Conclusions of the Seminar organised by COMECE at Clermont-Ferrand on 911 October 2006
Fifty years after the Treaty of Rome – Which values for the European Union?
Conclusions of the Seminar organised by COMECE at Clermont-Ferrand on 9 – 11 October 2006.
To mark the 50th Anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome, COMECE (the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the European Community) will organise a European Congress in Rome on 23–25 March 2007. This will bring together Bishops, members of catholic laity movements and representatives of religious orders to discuss the values system on which the European project is based.
In order to examine the historical context of the signature of the Rome Treaty, COMECE organized an seminar entitled “Fifty years after the Treaty of Rome, which values for the European Union?” This event was hosted at the Interdiocesan Pastoral Centre of Clermont-Ferrand (France), on the invitation of Archbishop Hippolyte Simon (member of COMECE). Some fifty participants coming from all corners of Europe took part in the three-day seminar. On the first two days they were joined by 200 second-level students from the Academy of Clermont-Ferrand. They were invited to attend the meetings and exchange views with the speakers.
In the opening session, the geopolitical context of the signature of the Rome Treaty was examined. The speakers were all specialists on European issues and some of them had also personally witnessed the second world war and post-war period. Speakers such as Alfred Grosser, Mihaly Kranitz, Hanns-Jürgen Küsters and Bino Olivi. Particular attention was paid to the impact of contemporary events such as the 1956 Suez Crisis and the Budapest Uprising on the outcome of the negotiations. The leading role played by several notable Europeans of that time was also seen as a decisive factor. Examining the origins and the context of this Treaty, 50 years later and in the present critical context, it is particularly noteworthy to rediscover that the Rome Treaty was itself the result of a readiness to make compromise to serve the general interest and the common good.
In the ensuing session, the seminar invited the audience and the speakers to consider how to relaunch the process of building Europe. Philip Herzog, former member of the European Parliament and currently chairman of the Think Tank “Confrontations Europe”, set out his vision of the major challenges of the future for Europe. He then proposed four specific issues for further reflection in the workshops – institutions, social model, public management and the economy. In a public lecture on Tuesday evening entitled “The Catholics and the European Union: the position of the Holy See”, Prof. Jean-Dominique Durand underlined the responsibility of Catholics and Christians to play their part in the public debates on shaping the future of Europe.
Archbishop Hippolyte Simon and two members of the ”Comité des Sages” established by COMECE to prepare a report for the Congress of Rome, then drew conclusions. Michel Camdessus presented 7 concrete proposals, ranging from a European Civilian Service for young people to a more adequate energy policy at European level. From his side, HE Philippe de Schoutheete pointed to some underlying values – solidarity, respect for diversity, equity between generations – generally held by both believers and non-believers – which had allowed the Common Market to come into being, then the Single Market and the Euro; these values also form the basis of foreign policies and security policies on which the EU is embarking today.
Globalisation, enlargement, immigration: these challenges now facing Europe are raising fears. In this context of uncertainty, the Church’s obligation is to explore the sources of these fears and to invite Catholics to become involved to support Europe in its political and democratic construction.
For further information on the Clermont Seminar and the preparation of the Rome Congress, please see www.rome2007.eu. (The website will be available as from 20 October.)
(COMECE press release 19/10/2006)
The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) is made up of Bishops delegated by the twenty-two Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union. Its permanent secretariat monitors and analyses the political process of the EU, informs and raises awareness in both church and society of the development of EU policy.