Paris, 25th of March 2017
Declaration on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty
Whereas several Member States are proceeding with important national elections, on those celebration days of the anniversary of the Rome Treaty (25th March 1957), we want to remember the outstanding outcomes brought up by that Treaty to Europe and to the World. We stress the great importance that Christian thought has always contributed to reconciliation and unity between the peoples of Europe and which inspired the founding fathers of the Rome Treaty.
Paying tribute to the legacy of the Rome Treaty
The long-lasting period of peace which Europe has enjoyed until today is largely linked to the fruits borne by the Common EU policies whose foundations were laid down by the Treaty of Rome: food self-sufficiency in view of sustainable development of agriculture and environment; free movement of services and workers provided by the single market and the Schengen border-free area; adoption of a binding European Charter of fundamental rights; the will of solidarity with the most deprived regions and countries reflected by European structural policies, a single currency aiming at protecting and uniting European people.
Those fruits have been progressively shared from six founding members to 28 today. As such the contribution to European peace and stability in the aftermath of the cold war has been decisive. In addition they have not been limited to the European continent: the EU remains nowadays the biggest world development aid donor. The EU promotes a multilateral trade system facilitating, for least developed countries (LCD), access to markets and to basic goods and health-services; it plays a vital peace-enhancing influence, through its cooperation and stabilisation interventions in countries confronted with wars and natural disasters.
The present European imbalances and political stagnation are unacceptable
Precisely because those fruits should be preserved and because they bear testimony for the creativity and courage of the previous generations, we find it unacceptable that major imbalances persists in the political, economic and social relations between EU member states. Since the 2008 crisis, the EU and the Member States no longer prevent increasing inequalities within its societies. It suffers from unemployment of the young generations. It is marked by fierce divergences about how to treat refugees and migrants. In some Member States, key values of Democracy and the Rule of Law seem under pressure. Also, the EU appears recently confronted with a new distant, indifferent and even hostile attitude of some of its major external partners in the world. Finally we are struck by the depth of misconfidence and critical feelings towards the European Institutions in our countries. Re-building confidence will require bold initiatives.
Giving a new impetus to the unity of Europeans
In a context where nationalism is looming again in some of our Member States, we call our political leaders to break out of stagnation. We urge them to be prepared, after the elections still to come this year, to bringing forward new strategic orientations which might give a new impetus to the unity of the peoples of Europe, a fundamental legacy from the Treaty of Rome. To that end an effective dialogue should be promoted: nothing is more distant from the initial founding spirit of Europe than mutually accusing each other of who is guilty of the present difficulties. Nothing is more distant from the spirit of the European Treaties than neglecting the sufferings of those in Europe, whatever their country who pay the highest toll for complying with the common disciplines and nothing is more the distant from this spirit than to undermine the European institutions by systematically blaming them for problems and difficult decisions while all successes are credited to the national governments.
Promoting a scenario of fraternal solidarity amongst the peoples of Europe
Whereas a Commission White Paper has just illustrated various future scenarios for the EU, we urge our leaders to opt for a scenario of fraternal solidarity across the peoples of Europe, beyond institutional or technical changes. Today Europe misses most this spirit of fraternal solidarity which was at the heart of the goal of “an ever closer union“ enshrined in the Treaty of Rome and in the Schuman’s call referring to “practical solidarities“ leading to mutual trust.
Reforms are needed for sure and decisions should be taken to helping the EU out of the dangerous standstill in which it is stalled. Rebuilding a spirit of fraternity, mutual respect and Sensitivity to each other’s burdens and sufferings has become a condition for the success of such initiatives.
The purpose of uniting the peoples of Europe is not just about facing common threats. It is also about becoming really respectful of each other, bearing in mind what we owe to each other. Whatever the plans for political and economic revival in Europe, they should be inspired by the huge social struggles facing particularly some of us. Whatever is needed for defence and the security capacity of the EU, it should take at its start the different historical memories and threat perceptions. As Europeans, we are proud of our social model based on human dignity, but this should be translated into a full recognition of our cultural diversities and into joint efforts to welcome persons fleeing from armed conflicts and persecutions.
We would be stewards to the mission of Europe as Pope Francis reminded us: "Europe has a patrimony of ideals and spiritual values unique in the world, one that deserves to be proposed once more with passion and renewed vigour, for it is the best antidote against the vacuum of values of our time, which provides a fertile terrain for every form of extremism."
This is why, as members of national and international Christian lay organisations belonging to various EU Member States, we shall contribute to reinvigorating the spirit of fraternal solidarity, while developing transnational recognition and mutual assistance. We note with confidence the encouraging signs of citizens starting to stand up for Europe in many cities.
Each of us will do his best in our various societies to promoting a renewed sense of ownership towards this jewel of European integration inherited from the founding Fathers of Europe and to bringing our fellow European citizens in control of their future.
Initiative of Christians for Europe (IXE)
- Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK)
Postfach 24 01 41
53154 Bonn /Germany
Martina Köß, +49 228 38 297 34
- Semaines Sociales de France
18 rue Barbès
92128 Montrouge Cedex / France
Jérôme Vignon, +33 631 66 55 63