On Tuesday June 26, the Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC) participated in a dialogue seminar organised by the European Parliament with churches and other religious institutions. The event, “Implementing the European Social Pillar: The Role of Churches and Religions,” fell within the framework of activities that the Parliament coordinates with regards to the article 17 TFEU on the Dialogue with Churches, Religions, Philosophical and Non-Confessional organisations.
The First Vice-President of the Parliament and responsible for the Parliament’s implementation of Article 17 TFEU, Mrs. Mairead McGuinness, hosted the event and highlighted in her introductory remarks the great efforts made by the European Union to implement the social pillar. She also underlined the great ability of religious organisations to connect all the policy levels: the local, the regional, the national and the European; this may facilitate their engagement with the political institutions to debate policies and strategies.
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Along with Mrs. Mairead McGuinness, Mr. Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee, emphasised that social justice is an inspiration common to people of all faiths, and that closeness to the poor is a moral, a social imperative we all should share. In Mr. Jahier’s words: “If there is no solidarity, there will be no social cohesion, no competitiveness and no sustainable growth. The social dimension is hence constitutive of the European project.”
Then two panels took place. The first one addressed the question of “human dignity in work,” and was chaired by MEP Enrique Calvet Chambon, Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parlament. The second one, chaired by MEP Georgi Pirinski, dealt with the concern to “foster an inclusive and caring European society.” In these two panels, representatives from significant European charity organisations, such as Caritas Europa, and from major monotheistic religions took the floor and engaged also in fruitful debates with the audience. The speakers agreed on the devastating impact of the financial crisis on the European society, thus pointing out the need for poverty alleviation, social welfare programmes and the urgent improvement of the European social dimension. To this effect, the speakers welcomed the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights at the Gothenburg Social Summit as a significant first step.
The event finished with some concluding remarks by Mr. Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament. He expressed his desire for further conjoint work between the European institutions and their religious partners through a constructive dialogue.
Javier Martín Merchán – Trainee