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     Actually the title named “The present EU and a new vision of Europe with Christian Perspectives” clearly marks one of the most important topics of our times for us as European citizens, and in fact for the whole world, since it means a lot to the world, weather Europe is in good shape or not, whether Europe is inspired or not, whether Europe is in peace and prosperity or not. What I want to share with you today are some insights in European history, some very personal opinions on our present time in Europe and an outlook on future perspectives. When I mention “personal opinions” I really mean it, and I identify myself as the thing you can call a catholic in my personal spirituality and faith, and as a Christian Liberal in my approach as a citizen and as a public servant.

     As a president of the Club of Catholic Intelligentsia in Warsaw I am honoured and happy to welcome you at this conference dedicated to the challenges that Christianity has to face in the contemporary Europe. Rapid progress in the technical civilization makes life of the people easier but - on the other side - confronts us with completely new problems and urges us to look for the appropriated understanding of new challenges and for finding correct responses to them. In particular this includes to find the good and comprehensive way of speech about main Christian values, because in the time of new medial communication and globalization, quite a lot of what some decades earlier had a clear and understandable meaning for all people of Europe, in the modern time became less clear or has changed the meaning.

   To me, building and preserving peace is the most important value in public life. This task was formulated by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount and today his message is aimed at every Christian who is committed to the community.

   The European Union is an organization that has demonstrated how to implement this value in real circumstances.  This was possible to do because, at its very beginning, the Founding Fathers proposed how to combine great Christian ideals with very concrete pragmatic solutions. Peace on the Continent was to be guaranteed by the mechanism of common policy within steel and coal-mining industries. This project was fully successful. At its beginning, two big enemies – France and Germany reconciled and then the biggest and the most aggressive army of the contemporary world withdrew from the half of territory of Europe. Today, we have peace in Europe and we as Christians are obliged to maintain it.

I hear people saying and repeating phrases like “we must rethink Europe, we must reinvent Europe, new Europe…Do we really need that?

You asked me to talk about a new vision of Europe. Maybe I am a wrong address for such a request, since I belong to the ardent admirers of Robert Schuman and his vision of Europe. This vision is now almost 70

years old but it is neither too old nor dated. This does not at all mean that there are no challenges for us today.

The questions to us, next generations, is: do we fulfil this vision which was laid for us by the Founding Fathers with an ever better content? Do we adapt it to the quickly changing reality? Don’t we loose the essential? And may be most important: are we, each of us, really convinced Europeans and are we really involved in this magnificent project?

Article written by Robert Schuman for the Pax Romana review in June 1953

One would make a mistake and be the victim of a dangerous illusion if one believed that, in order to make Europe, it would be sufficient to create European Institutions. It would be like a body without a soul. These institutions will have to be led by a European spirit, as His Holiness Pius XII defined it, in front of the members of the College of Europe in Bruges last March 15. The peoples belonging to a European Community will have to be aware of their solidarity, and place their trust in their mutual cooperation.

However, between nations that, a short while ago, were still fighting each other as enemies, the budding of such feelings will be slow and difficult; it will not only be antagonized by the memories of a recent past, but also by mistakes, blunders and sometimes deliberate provocations, finally by the apprehensions regarding the future. All these are reasons for us to succeed quickly.

At the end of his term as President of COMECE, Cardinal Reinhard Marx looks back on his experiences and puts forward guidelines for cooperation within the Church in Europe – the joint testimony of the Church to the power of the Gospel for the benefit of the people of Europe.

Shortly after my episcopal ordination in 1996 I was in Brussels to familiarise myself with the work of COMECE. Another special milestone for me was in April 2004, when I took part in the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela organised by COMECE on the occasion of the enlargement of the European Union by ten central and eastern European states. We followed this ancient pilgrimage route happy and grateful that East and West had finally been united. His Holiness John Paul II spoke of two lungs that Europe needed to breathe, an image that made it clear how dependent East and West are on one another, and how they come together as one. Back in 2004, many people spoke not of an eastward expansion of the European Union, but of a reunification of Europe.

Concerned by the current financial crisis affecting the Council of Europe, which could accelerate the regression of European civic space and democracy in Europe,  the Conference of INGOs sent a letter to all permanent representations to the Council of Europe, asking them to show more solidarity with the Council of Europe to stabilise the current situation.

Letter from the Standing Committee of the Conference of INGOs to all permanent representations to the Council of Europe :

Dear Ambassadors,

The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, representing European Civil Society, is deeply concerned by the current financial crisis affecting the Council of Europe.  The decision of the Russian Federation to suspend a part of its contribution to the Council of Europe and the decision of Turkey to reduce its contribution have, combined with the effects of years of 0% budget growth, placed the Council of Europe in an unprecedented situation. 

     The decision taken by a majority of British voters just two days ago once more shows us the complex and difficult situation of Europe’s state at the moment and the importance of developing a path into the future. The successive crises in the last years, beginning with the breakdown of the financial markets, the near-down crash of finances in EU-memberstates, the illegal occupation of Crimea and the astoundingly increased number of refugees during the last months have not only put to test the European Integration Process, but also led to rising resentments between EU-memberstates as well as between groups within these member-states as well. A first rough analysis of the outcome of the British referendum shows us a division between generations, between the inhabitants of cities and of the countryside, between a « well-to-do » elite, able to find their way in a globalized and interconnected world and all those, who feel abandoned, left behind and who fear a loss of what they have gained or built up the past decennia.