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The ways of solidarity
COMECE and other Christian Churches on the policy of cohesion
“I tell you the truth: as you have done to one of these my little brothers, you have done that to me”. A verse taken from the Gospel of Mathew, more than any other expression, conveys the motivations and the ways marking Christian charitable and just commitment in favour of the poor, of the needy, of those who extend their hands invoking for bread, help, and care, to provide social opportunities, education, as well as social and economic development. The point is made in the document published on July 5 by COMECE (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Communities) together with the Church and Society commission of the Conference of European Churches, the Council of the Evangelical Churches in Germany and the Council of German bishops, focused on the social and regional cohesion policy of the EU. The document equally conveys the will to highlight the role played by Christian communities in the field of solidarity (across society and for the local communities) at European level, so as to act as a credible interlocutor with EU institutions.
“The purpose of the regional policy” of the European Union, as it is defined in the Treaties, “is to reduce the disparity between regions whilst promoting balanced and fair territorial development and equal opportunities” between the different areas of the continent, points out the ecclesial document (available in English and German on the website www.comece.org[>>]). “Regional policy is an expression of solidarity inside the EU. For Christians solidarity is a natural expression of their faith”. For this reason, “given the present serious challenges the unification process is called to address” the Christian Churches “believe that the regional policy of the EU is extremely important” for cohesion, as established in the Treaties. The document thus reiterates the importance of EU27 cohesion policy addressing the reform undertaken by the Commission with the publication of in-depth documentation, past October 6, on the review of the structural funds and regarding the multiannual budget 2014-2020. COMECE and other Christian Churches titled the document “The role of Church actors in the European Cohesion Policy”, which illustrates the Church’s commitment at continental level in providing support people and families in difficulty, for the social inclusion of people with fewer opportunities, of the marginalized and poor, in addition to the numerous initiatives carried out by the communities of believers in the field of education, culture, sport, of welfare services… Caritas and Diakonia are just two of the many ecclesial “denominations” actively involved in this field.
The Churches’ intervention is timely. At the present phase negotiations between EU institutions and Member States on the Multiannual Budget are being stepped up. The Commission has asked for the granting of at least 336 billion euro for cohesion policy, to be implemented principally through the European Regional Development Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the European Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Fund. The actions that these Funds enable the implementation of throughout Europe are aimed at job creation, stepping up education and vocational training, implementing social inclusion for the disabled, promoting the integration of old people in active life, providing support to people living in rural or economically backward regions, building infrastructures, providing support to SMEs…
The cohesion policy is in fact based on the principle of solidarity. The EU commission supports the need to step up, notably at a time of crisis, the “social” and “solidarity” dimension of the cohesion policy. The Churches can thus set up a solid and credible “front” for those political stances that follow this same direction.
11/07/2012 - Gianni Borsa - Sir Europe (Brussels)