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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Which Europe?

‘Which Europe?’, a thought provoking evening hosted by Theos and CPFE (Christian Political Foundation for Europe) took place at 27 January in London. The event launched a CPFE/THEOS report written by Ben Ryan called A soul for the union.

With talks in the media of deals on Europe, referendums, disunity and the refugee crisis among other things, it was great to be at a discussion which didn’t focus purely on technicality or economy but asked questions around morality, dignity and faith.

The panel consisted of Sir Simon Hughes, Dr Helen Szamuely, Professor Brendan Simms, Ben Ryan and Johannes de Jong. Several probing questions and issues were raised by the panel. A key statement was ‘A lack of emphasis on human dignity is a major cause of the lack of trust in the EU’ Sir Simon Hughes raised issues of unity and diversity ‘We can influence better together than on our own, let’s not get stuck on structures’.There was also a call for MEP’s to learn to communicate better with the electorate, and help people understand the work that is done, and why it is done.

The report by Ben Ryan ‘A soul for the union’ is well worth a read, particularly if like me you still get excited about Europe. Even if you don’t (or are quite the opposite...) this report asks some clear questions, and proposes some answers, ultimately concluding that the EU needs a soul.

“The European Union is in crisis. The crisis in question is a hydra, a beast with many heads, each of which have the potential in their own right to prove fatal”. The ongoing economic crisis, particularly as expressed in a few debtor countries (and, most prominently Greece), the refugee crisis, the democratic deficit, and the spectre of a UK referendum, each seem to have the potential to break the whole Union. A union worth saving would be on stronger ground if it could develop a clearer, explicit moral purpose that resonated with its citizens. Perhaps more simply, if the EU is going to be worth saving it needs to discover a soul. “