“Europe and the long-term global challenges” – La Pairelle 2019


September 13-15 2019, La Pairelle, Namur, Belgium.

The weekend-long spiritual and theological workshop at La Pairelle near Namur, has concluded. This year’s topic on “Europe and the long-term global challenges” draw over 40 people to learn about, discuss, and influence the future of the European continent and the E.U., and the challenges faced by continent and Union.

Like last year, the weekend workshop was introduced by Marie de Saint-Cheron and Martin Maier SJ, representing the co-organisers of the event: The “Passion for Europe”-group and the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC).  The workshop then started off with a keynote speech by Pierre Defraigne, the Executive Director of the “Madariaga – College of Europe” Foundation, who discussed the immediate paradoxical nature of a diverse Europe needing unity to sustain the political and cultural variety found on the continent. Mr. Defraigne then gave an analysis of challenges as a result of the current European systems and conditions, and of the challenges that are likely to appear following his predicted structural changes in Europe. Ms. Eleonora Vitale (JESC) gave a reaction speech, listing a few examples of European challenges within defence, lack of proper market harmonisation and the European tech sector deficit in comparison to the US and China. A short discussion between them followed, and based on this began a session of open debate. This was the foundation of the working groups of attendees, who would each debate and discuss the topics of the sessions, and present their conclusions to the moderator team responsible for the Sunday concluding session.

Group photo from 2019’s edition of the La Pairelle-workshop for Europe

On Saturday, two panels were hosted on the topics of “Europe, trustee of a universal common good”, and “Europe, promoting a fair society; overcoming our differences”. Each panel consisted of motived high-level speakers from the EU institutions and the branches of advocacy surrounding them. The full list of speakers, moderators and topics can be found here. Following each panel was a group discernment process, where each section of the attendees would contribute to the debate during the group discussion sessions.

Saturday evening concluded with a piano concert by pianist Maxence Pilchen in the crypt of La Pairelle, followed by an informal meeting at the La Pairelle library/bar.

Wrapping up the session, Peter Rozic SJ of JESC and recent reinforcement to JESC Botond Feledy, presented the conclusions of the attendee groups, first focusing on the topics and conclusions that were shared among each of the five attendee groups, and then opening the floor for additional speific input to be carried on as output after the workshop. The results of these disusions, and minutes of each panel period, will be available at www.passionforeurope.com soon.

Both the Jesuit European Social Centre and the “Passion for Europe”-group would like to extend a heartfelt token of gratitude to the many participants of this year’s workshop at La Pairelle, both as speakers, moderators and attendees, and hope that the workshop will bear fruit in the near and far future for the betterment of the European project. We pray that much productive discernment come from this session, and that we may continue to host workshops like these for many years to come.


The JESC team and the “Passion for Europe”-group