Effective values-based Union to guard the future of Europe
Commission brings together non-confessional organisations for a broad discussion
23 June, 2017
European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans hosted last Monday a high-level meeting with fourteen representatives from philosophical and non-confessional organisations from across Europe with the aim to discuss the future of Europe, the EU press service reported. The meeting was held in the presence of European Parliament Vice-President Mairead McGuinness. The meeting is part of the regular dialogue with churches, religions, philosophical and non-confessional organisations foreseen by Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty. This annual meeting discussed the topic “The Future of Europe: a values-based and effective Union.”
“Europe is at a pivotal moment, and for me the most fundamental thing we must do is listen to organisations that represent our citizens, whatever their faith or convictions. The Commission is seizing this unique moment to discuss the future direction of the EU. Our common European values must remain the bedrock of our future choices, and we are consulting widely on how to effectively anchor our future policies in our shared values. Talking with religions, churches and non-confessional organisations is an important part of this process,” First VP Frans Timmermans said while opening the meeting.
The meeting was an occasion for in-depth discussion, addressing questions around the issues of values and governance. The ongoing discussion on the future of Europe raises a number of questions about how to make Europe more effective, more democratic and more relevant. The participants also addressed the social dimension of Europe, looking in particular at the basic social principles that must be promoted at European level and how best to approach this. The organisations present were invited to work with the Commission throughout the reflection process on the future of Europe, to relay the views of the organisations they represent, and to further encourage debate on the ideas discussed at today's meeting.
The high level was the eighth in the series of meetings launched by the Commission in 2009 when the dialogue with churches, religions, philosophical and non-confessional organisations was enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. The Commission will hold its annual meeting with religious leaders also on the future of Europe on 7 November.
The Commission adopted a White Paper on the future of Europe in March with the aim to encourage debate on how to ensure that the EU can protect, defend and empower all its citizens. It sets out the main challenges and opportunities for Europe in the coming decade: the impact of new technologies, globalisation, security concerns and the rise of nationalism. It underlines the need to grasp new developments and seize new opportunities. The White Paper presents five possible scenarios for how the Union could evolve by 2025 depending on how Member States choose to respond.
The White Paper marks the beginning of a process for the EU27 to decide on the future of the Union. To encourage this debate, the Commission, together with the European Parliament and interested Member States, will host a series of 'Future of Europe Debates' across Europe's cities and regions. The Commission has also fed the debate with a series of Reflection Papers on five defining issues for the EU by 2025.