2005, Europe (general), Welfare & Religion

Welfare and Religion in a European Perspective: Introduction to a Europe-Wide Research Project

Welfare and Religion in a European Perspective: Introduction to a Europe-Wide Research Project

Grace Davie

The aim of the project Welfare and Religion in a European Perspective (WREP) has been to look at the role of majority churches as agents of social welfare across different European societies. Its essence can be found in the following questions:

  • what roles do the historic churches of Europe play within the different welfare systems that exist in the continent?
  • to what extent are they providers of welfare?
  • how, more broadly, how do they influence welfare at a normative level – either through their historical roles or through continuing public debate? – and finally,
  • how do these activities match, or fail to match, with public expectations?

The background to the project lies in (a) the significant economic and social changes currently taking place in all developed societies, not least in Europe and (b) an equally significant set of changes which relate to religion.Taken together these transformations challenge existing models of welfare organisation. The task moreover is highly topical: questions concerning the organisation of social welfare are high on the political agenda all over Europe.

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2001, Europe (general), European Union

EU Expansion: a Mainly Political Perspective

EU Expansion: a Mainly Political Perspective

Ken Medhurst

Before the fall of communism in 1989 there had been three successive EU enlargements which expanded membership from the original six countries (the Benelux countries, the Federal German Republic, France and Italy) to include a total of twelve. These enlargements involved Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

The collapse of communism in principle created a wholly new situation entailing the possibility of a major eastward expansion. The reunification of Germany and the consequent incorporation of the former GDR into the EU was a harbinger of subsequent opportunities and difficulties.

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2001, Europe, Europe (general)

Peace and Reconciliation in Europe

Peace and Reconciliation in Europe

Richard Seebohm


I have spent the last three years as Representative in Brussels of the Quaker Council for European Affairs, lobbying the European institutions on the subjects of peace, human rights and economic justice. One of our outcomes was a club of 17 NGOs with whom we set up the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office. It began work in January 2001, with the task of information-sharing in order to link the non-violent conflict resolution capabilities of the NGOs with the evolution of European Union policies for crisis management.

It is one thing to avert crises, but quite another to solve the problem of enabling people who have been intent on destroying each other to learn once more to live alongside each other.

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2000, Europe, Europe (general)

Changes in Europe and Britain

Changes in Europe

Europe today faces unprecedented challenges. The euphoria of 1990 and the end of the Cold War gave way to new problems: unemployment, threats to the environment, narrow nationalism, vast numbers of displaced people and new restrictive asylum legislation.

Enlargement of the European Union brings its own dilemmas – more countries and diverse cultures means compromise and consensus.

  • How open will the E.U. be, as it expands and deepens?
  • Will monetary union bring growing prosperity?
  • Will there be safeguards to ensure fair trade for all, rich and poor alike?

The search for new patterns of freedom and justice means a tremendous challenge for the churches, too. Can they help to create and maintain a truly democratic society?

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