ANNUAL HIGH LEVEL MEETING OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

CROCEU 2018

On October 8, 2018, Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, had a meeting with high level religious leaders at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels. Metropolitan Athanasios of Achaia, accompanied by Rev. Dr Georgios Lekkas, attended this meeting as the Director of the Representation of the Church of Greece to European Institutions and as the representative of the CROCEU Committee.

The other participants in the meeting were Mgr Mariano CROCIATA, Bishop of Latina and Vice President of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Rabbi Albert GUIGUI, Chief Rabbi of Brussels and Permanent Representative at the Conference of European Rabbis, Mgr Antoine HEROUARD, Auxiliary Bishop of Lille and President of the Commission on Social Affairs of COMECE, His Grace Robert INNES, Anglican Bishop in Europe, Dr. Frank JULY, Presiding Bishop in Wurttemberg and President of the EKD Commission on Europe, Rev. Christian KRIEGER, President of the Reformed Protestant Church of Alsace and Lorraine and President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and Imam Khalid BENHADDOU, El Fath mosque, Gent, Belgium.

The meeting took place in the framework of article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty and the dialogue between the Commission and religious organizations. It was the follow up of same sort of meetings, an initiative taken by the President of the European Commission Manuel Barroso which started in 2005. The main topic of the meeting was the important outstanding challenges as well as perspectives for the future of Europe in the run up to the upcoming European Parliament elections, with common EU values as a point of departure.

The participants had plenty of time to raise many issues e.g. migration, social integration, the sustainability of our way of life and the protection of the environment, the importance of education for all, the need to establish trust among all partners of the society as well as the need to overcome fear regarding the other who is our neighbor, the role of dialogue as a tool to combat slogans, lies and populism, the risks of racism, discrimination and inequality, unemployment, artificial intelligence and violence against women in the framework of family.

Metropolitan Athanasios made a concrete proposal to collaborate with the European Commission on organizing events on the topic of European values in dialogue with local traditions. He underscored that we need to learn to respect divergence when it enriches the reality we are called to share together. It is important to work towards deepening a sense of togetherness maintaining and respecting each one’s identity.

 

The text of our porposal:

 

"THE REPRESENTATION OFFICE OF THE CHURCH OF GREECE TO THE EU

 

 

TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION:

1. The discussion launched by the European Commission with its White Paper on the Future of Europe in March 2017

2. The conclusions of the European Council in Gothenburg (2017) that Member States’ e- ducation systems should contribute to the promotion of common European values [paras 6 and 7 of 2018/C 195/01]

3. TheEuropean Commission’s proposals as set out in the New European Agenda for Culture (May 2018) which has as two of its main goals: a) social cohesion and b) the protection of theEuropean cultural heritage as a source of shared European values

4. The Council Recommendation on promoting common values, inclusive education, and the European dimension of teaching (May 2018) calls on Member States’ education sy- stems to promote the common European values protected by Article 2 of the Treaty on the E.U.

5. The opinion unanimously accepted by the participants of the discussion organized by the European Commission pursuant to Article 17 of the Treaty on the E.U. on 7.9.2017 in Brussels presenting the White Paper on the Future of Europe, according to which common European values are of theoutmost importance if the whole European project is to move forward.

6. The discussion held on 24.5.2018 between the representatives of religions and humanist organizations in the frame of the permanent dialogue pursuant to Article 17 of the Treaty on the E.U., moderated by M. Depaigne on the behalf of the European Commission, on the subject of the Council Recommendation on promoting common values. In this discussion the majority of the participants underlined the importance legally recognizing and securing a number of European cultural values such as love, mutual understanding and dialogue in addition to the political values already protected by Article 2 of the treaty on the E.U.

7. That European heritage is already recognized as a powerful tool in the EU’s external po- licy [“we are a cultural super-power” – speech of HR/VP Federica Mogherini at the Culture Forum in Brussels, April 2016] .

8. That for all Christians the European Union project has a dominant spiritual dimension if we consider it in the spirit of Jesus Christ’s prayer for all people to live in unity.

 

WE PROPOSE:

That, under the aegis of the European Commission, a major Congress be organized in each Member State capital with the common subject: “COMMON EUROPEAN VALUES AND NATIONAL TRADITIONS”. The first Congress to inaugurate this initiative could take place in Athens for historical reasons. A final recapitulating Congress should take place in Brussels as the main venue of European Institutions. The whole project could be run out in the frame of a European Year devoted to the COMMON EUROPEAN VALUES.

THE GOALS OF THIS INITIATIVE:

  1. Promotion of a common European cultural identity that could contribute to social cohesion and to the stimulation of the sense of belonging for all European citizens
  2. Combating fundamentalism, nationalism and any discourse of hate
  3. Combating fear provoked by the influx of immigrants coming especially from third countries.
  4. The deepening of friendship and mutual understanding between all European populations for handling correctly any future financial crisis
  5. Reactivation of the European integration project after a difficult period with problems like Brexit and the behavior of European countries like Poland or Hungary
  6. Promotion of common European cultural values that could permit the E.U. to deal more efficiently with challenges that could put at risk not only the future of our planet but the future of the human being as we know it, more specifically challenges related to climate change and scientific evolutions in the fields of bio-technology and artificial intelligence.  

Brussels, 28.9.2018

Μetropolitan of Achaias Athanasios, Director [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] &

Rev. Archpriest Dr. Georgios Lekkas, Counselor [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]"