Press Release No: 19/10
9 May 2019
The following is a message from the Conference of European Churches issued by the CEC President Rev. Christian Krieger and the CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen addressing European leaders gathering for the EU Future for Europe Summit on the Europe Day, 9 May, in Sibiu, Romania.
The Conference of European Churches, representing 114 Member Churches in 40 countries, congratulates the European leaders gathering for the EU Summit on the Future for Europe on Europe Day 2019 in the historic city of Sibiu, Romania. It is indeed opportune to reinforce European togetherness on the day commemorating the Schuman Declaration, which introduced the vision of European nations bound together for lasting peace.
The fundamental values of the European Union—respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality, and the rule of law—have common roots with the ecumenical ideals of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. These common values have, however, been put under increasing pressure in recent years.
In order to renew confidence in and strengthen commitment to the European vision, we need to reclaim and reaffirm our common European values, which today seem to be questioned rather than characterize the state of the Union today. Without an emphasis on values, EU risks becoming a self-perpetuating convolution of short-sighted economic interests, eventually shattering into rival groupings and nations.
The Conference of European Churches wishes to highlight the vision of a European Union as a true community of common values that contribute to working together for the shared and sustainable future of the world.
The Conference of European Churches thus urges the heads of government to:
- Promote economic and ecological justice involving social equality and cohesion.
- Work for sustainable migration and asylum policies based on intra-European solidarity, and solidarity with the most vulnerable, based on respect for human dignity and human rights – in the EU, at its borders and in its relations with third countries
- Combat all forms of discrimination and racism, based on the conviction that all humans are created equal in the image of God. As Churches we urge all societal actors to counter hate speech, derogatory gestures and acts of vandalism.
- Respond to populism and extremism, and the underlying experiences of exclusion, deprivation and hopelessness.
- Promote inclusion, accessibility and non-discrimination with regards to the development of digitalization and Artificial Intelligence, focusing on ethical and societal issues.
- Advocate for peace by promoting bridge building strategies that emphasise social, political, and environmental interdependency as a fundamental element of peace and security. As Churches we are concerned about the militarisation of the EU and argue for an approach of justice and peace towards the issues of security on all levels, from national to European and global level.
- Commit to the global responsibility. The serious challenges facing Europe—from economy to migration and security to climate change—require global responsibility and action. The role of the EU as a community based on values and a humanitarian superpower should guide its politics in the international arena. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be at the heart of strengthening EU’s global role.
We are encouraged by the fact that according to opinion polls, the European ideals enjoy a higher than ever confidence among the citizens. Our common responsibility for the future of Europe compels us all toward collaboration, solidarity and friendship, even in the midst of uncertain political circumstances and immense political challenges.
European churches stand ready to underline and stand for the values of a united Europe, as well as the need to defend these values against the ghosts of the past.
As Churches, we are committed to build bridges of peace and hospitality in our communities, to strengthen relationships among Churches and other partners in Europe, and promote a comprehensive vision of the common good, pursuing a humane, social and sustainable Europe at peace with itself and its neighbours, in which human rights and solidarity prevail.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 2 234 68 42
Fax +32 2 231 14 13