Berlin, 30 November 2021 – At its recent meeting, the Board of Church and Peace commented on the Conference on the Future of Europe organised online by the European Union. The European network of peace churches highlights the need for the EU to remain a peace project, increase its efforts towards a just and sustainable economy and implement internationally agreed standards for the protection and rights of asylum seekers and refugees.
‘I will give you a future and hope’ (Jer 29:11) – as the Advent season begins, Church and Peace recalls the ancient biblical promise of the prophet Jeremiah. It is still valid today, in Europe as well as worldwide.
The Conference on the Future of Europe comes at a time when the European project is at the crossroads. In the face of social, economic, ecological and political challenges that urgently need to be addressed, there is a need to reaffirm the shared values the Union was founded upon. For Church and Peace, this refers in particular to the emergence of the EU to build peace and reconciliation amongst European nations after the devastating wars that tore Europe apart.
Future and hope – in the biblical tradition this also always means justice, nonviolence, sustainability, hospitality for refugees. Rooted in this tradition, Church and Peace brings the following contributions to the Conference on the Future of Europe:
The EU and the World
The EU should remain true to its original goal of being a peace project. Instead of becoming ever more militarised, it should develop an understanding of comprehensive human security, with justice and nonviolence at its core, and accordingly set out on the path towards a civil security policy. This requires a courageous change of policy. Practical steps towards this can be found in the approach developed by churches and peace organisations in Europe and contained in the book Rethinking Security (Sicherheit neu denken, www.sicherheitneudenken.de). This scenario of a transformation to a civil security policy by 2040 is available in Dutch, English, French, Polish and Russian and is being discussed throughout Europe.
Church and Peace expects the European Union to respond consistently to the intertwined climate and biodiversity crises with the adopted, integrated, and comprehensive policy package of the Green Deal. In order to develop a truly sustainable and just economy, the EU should use the European Green Deal as a vehicle to initiate a circular instead of a linear economy, one that is geared towards an ‘economy of enough’. It should be guided by ecological and ethical principles so that we as Europeans may live within the planetary boundaries and not at the expense of other continents.
The European Union should build bridges, not fences between itself and its neighbours. It should oppose the criminalisation of those coming to the aid of refugees. It should prevent pushbacks and ensure that refugees can apply for asylum and be received in accordance with Europe-wide standards and international obligations. Moreover, the EU should implement the UN Migration Pact and, within this framework, open up more safe and legal pathways for asylum seekers and migrants into the member states of the Union.
Since May 2020, all Europeans have been invited to participate in the Conference on the Future of Europe via a multilingual online platform. Everyone can submit proposals on a range of topics, discuss them and organise events. Randomly selected citizens then meet in plenaries to further develop the reform ideas. We encourage members and friends of Church and Peace, as well as all those who care about the future of Europe, to get involved at https://futureu.europa.eu.