Under the banner of dialogue

Europe Infos: the October news bulletin

The October issue of Europe Infos, the news bulletin of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) in cooperation with the Jesuit European Office (Ocipe) is now available. The process for the implementation of the European Foreign Action service is the theme of the contribution of Jesuit Fr. Frank Turner, OCIPE, while José Ignacio Garcia SJ authors an article on common agricultural policy, whose reform is due to take place in 2013. Alessandro Calcagno addresses the question of seasonal workers from Third countries in the framework of legal immigration. Stefan Lunte places Mario Monti’s proposal on the single market against the background of values, while the contribution of COMECE secretary Piotr Mazurkeiwicz focuses on the Roma people. Estonia will enter the euro zone. “Joining the euro zone is a long-term strategy which is endorsed by all of the Country’s political parties since Estonia became a EU-member State in 2004”, said Estonian MEP Tunne Kelam in the interview with Stefan Lunte, COMECE secretariat collaborator, referring to the European Council’s proposal to Estonia to enter the euro zone on January 1 2011. It’s not a hasty decision. On the contrary, we “are lagging behind”. The Country managed to exit the crisis with strong cuts to public expenditure, bringing inflation rates under 3%, with a sound balance of payments, and 8% of GDP indebtedness. Although Estonians cling on to their traditions, they value the security and stability provided by the EU more important. “They confide in long-term financial and economic stability, whereby the Country will become a place for promising and safe investments”. They also hope to enjoy greater mutual solidarity. Although prices are bound to increase life will be simpler, and this “will directly affect economy and citizens, triggering economic growth, attracting investments and contributing to the creation of employment”.Caritas in Veritate at the European Parliament. A seminar organized in conjunction by the EEP Group with the COMECE Secretariat took place past September 14 to study the implementation of Caritas in Veritate in various political and social fields and “to confront politicians with Church message, so that they may find support and guidance in their activity”. The seminar was “a good presentation of the usefulness of the dialogue between Churches and European Institutions”, said COMECE spokesperson Johanna Touzel, who described the panel lectures delivered in four round tables on culture and values, family as the key of the future, economy and civil society, development and the environment. “It is in precisely in family culture that society will find the ways leading to its cohesion; thus developing fundamental forms of solidarity and hope for the future”, said Msgr. Jean Laffitte, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Jesuit Father Frank Turner addressed questions related to the environment, focusing on the relationship between environmental and social problems, he pointed out the extent to which the encyclical establishes an indivisible connection between justice and the common good. Slovenian MEP Alojz Peterle underlined the need “to reconsider the foundations of European identity: the respect of human dignity and solidarity”, while Hungarian MEP and Parliament vice-president responsible for the dialogue with the Churches, religions and intercultural dialogue László Tokes, said that “the unity of Europe couldn’t have been possible without the Churches’ contribution. Indeed, it would have remained a distant goal without their active cooperation”.EU Strategy 2020. The ten-year strategy EU2020 provides for an “intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth” for the next decade, explained Jesuit Father Hervé-Pierre Guillot. Five objectives have been fixed for this purpose: employment, research and development, education and poverty reduction. The European Council approved the strategy with much difficulties and discussions, but the objectives will now be submitted to Member States for approval. They are called to present national counter-proposals, which the European Council will vote on in the fall. Seven “Lighhouse initiatives” are intended to highlight the progresses in each thematic area. For example: as relates to reports on poverty the Commission proposed the creation of a European platform for combating poverty, which is expected to be attended by Church bodies, especially with the exchange of good practices, favouring the commitment of public and private players to curb exclusion and promote the allocation-use of structural funds (the European Social Funds). Among the highlighted priorities figure: improving education of marginalized social groups like the Roma; combating discrimination, including discrimination against handicapped people; supporting integration processes. The Churches have always been in the front line in these areas, where not even NGOs dare to tread. For this reason the Commission is counting on this cooperation.

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