"The EU should not forget its roots" - high-level meeting between EU and religious leaders
The annual high-level dialogue meeting between EU and religious leaders in Europe highlighted the churches' contribution to the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe. The meeting took place online on Friday, 14 January 2022, and brought together representatives of the main religious traditions present throughout the EU, as well as of a number of non-confessional organisations. The Committee of the Representatives of the Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU) was represented by His Eminence ANTHONY, Bulgarian Orthodox Metropolitan of Central and Western Europe.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Margaritis SCHINAS, vice-president of the European Commission and Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life, who chaired the meeting, thanked the participants for the interest that religious communities have shown for the Conference on the Future of Europe. "Each of you represents centuries old traditions that are integral part of what it means today to be European. We thank you for the proposals already submitted in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe and I hope for a very applied discussion today," he said.
Speaking on behalf of CROCEU, Metropolitan Anthony pointed to the need for the European project to be faithful to its foundational stones: "Undisputedly the system of common European values has its roots in Christian values. They are love, faith, compassion and hope, as antithesis of hatred, faithlessness, egoism and despair. We must not forget that they formulate the core of our Europe". This is the only way in which, overcoming strictly economic considerations that often times lead the agendas of today's politics, the European project could continue to be relevant and prosper, His Eminence added.
Migration and solidarity, climate policies and the need to uphold European values on the wider world stage were also at the center of the discussions. Overall, faith leaders present at the meeting underscored the need for the European institutions to reap the fruits of this unprecedented democratic exercise and work hard on the issues that citizens are putting forth, thus bridging the gap that many Europeans see between the Brussels bureaucracy and their daily lives. This should be especially considered in the policies that will aim to alleviate the multi-faceted social effects of the ongoing pandemic.
Not least, the possibility has been mentioned to transform the CoFoE into a continuous process, that would continue beyond the spring of 2022, thus giving European citizens a possibility to make their voices heard as part of EU policy making.