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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.

   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?

   The SIIAEC (*) Pax Romana Assembly held from 20th to 22nd April 2018 reflected on the question of Solidarity in Europe. The European Union was supposed to set good example of democracy, human rights and rules of law, but nationalists and populists have come to power in several EU countries, although in a democratic way. The situation in such countries, earlier belonging to the Soviet Bloc, requires special attention. Their ruling parties believe that political will is above law. We know of this attitude and its consequences from recent history. The aim of this statement is to invite our members to take part in the renewal of the EU project. 

Back to history

   Europe has been wounded by so many wars including huge religious conflicts. The EU is a political answer, a project of peace wanted by those who experienced the devastating effects of racist or nationalist policies. More than a set of treaties it is an association of people and nations. It is gradually built by “de facto” solidarities, economic activities being one means to achieve this.
   In fact we have to remember the political convictions of Robert Schuman, Alcide de Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer and many other prophets of our time, who objected to the humanitarian disasters during the two great wars in the 20th century. They believed that if nationalisms and narrow-minded national interests are rejected in favour of cooperation, solidarity and mutual confidence among nations and peoples, we shall be able to live in peace.

I live as a minoritarian within a vast majority of an other ethnic and religious group. As we live in the Eastern part of Europe, which went through a lot of  historical changes and uneasiness, also five decades of communist totalitarianism, people’s minds are quite confused. Law and order does not function as in well established democracies. The rights of the national and linguistic minorities are not always respected. In many cases their language and culture is endangered.

Democracy and Spirituality is a French association created in 1993 that brings together people of diverse sensibilities, not necessarily believers, but engaged in different fields of social life, to reflect, in common, on the relations between democracy and spirituality in today's France.

The Charter that unites its members is based on the conviction that, on the one hand, democracies need an ethical and spiritual dimension to carry out their promise of equal dignity for each, and that, on the other hand, spiritualities and religions have a need for democratic regulation to pacify their potentially violent dark side. How, then, can the relations between "democracy" and "spirituality" be fruitful?

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.

Is Populism a Problem ?

Strasbourg, 8-10 November 2017

The 2017 World Forum for Democracy will focus on the role of political parties and media in the context of rising populism. A growing disconnect between citizens and political elites and dramatic changes in the media ecosystem are a challenge for democracy as we know it. New political and media actors and practices are emerging, offering opportunities for direct, unmediated engagement of the public, unbound by ethical or institutional safeguards. How can pluralism, freedom of expression, and fair and evidence-based public debate be safeguarded in these new conditions? How to nourish political culture which embraces a long-term perspective and resists the excesses of populism?

Read more: Concept paper