2013, European Union

Where do we think the EU might be going; and will Britain go there too?

Where do we think the EU might be going; and will Britain go there too?

(A talk given to ‘Faith in Europe’, 17 January 2013)

Sir Michael Franklin

For those like me who support the EU and British membership of it, the past few years have not been happy ones.

It is not only in the UK that public opinion has become much less enthusiastic about the EU and it institutions. The European Commission regularly takes the temperature of public opinion through a series of polls. The best known asks people whether or not they think the EU is a ‘good thing’. It shows that over the last five years average support has declined from 52% to 30%. It has happened in virtually every EU country. In France, for instance, 52% of those polled five years ago said membership of the EU was a good thing: last year that had dropped to 46%. In Germany the figures were 65% and 54%. In Spain the fall was even more dramatic: from 73% to 55%. (No surprise that the corresponding figures for the UK showed only 33% thinking that membership was a good thing 10 years ago, and only 26% last year – but more of that later). No doubt much of this dissatisfaction reflects the general feeling of economic gloom and the perceived failure of governments, both national and European to rise to the occasion. Nevertheless, it provides a difficult political backdrop against which governments have to deal with the problems the EU faces.

Of these, the biggest is clearly the formidable problems arising from the world wide banking and economic crises for the EU as a whole, but notably for the future, indeed the survival of the EU’s single currency, the eurozone. But first let me say something about another immediate problem for the EU: the fixing of the EU budget for the next few years.

In purely numerical terms the EU budget is not a big issue: the total EU budget, some £120 billion is only about 1% of Europe’s GDP, whereas total government expenditure in most EU countries amounts to around 40% of GDP. The UK’s net contribution to the budget is a mere £7.4 billion, scarcely more than 1% of government expenditure, about half what Germany pays and substantially less than France or Italy.

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2011, Belarus, European Union, Ukraine

EU Neighbourhood Policy as it Affects Ukraine and Belarus

EU Neighbourhood Policy as it affects Ukraine and Belarus

Nathaniel Copsey

Origins and Development of the EU Neighbourhood Policy

Relations between the European Community and the Soviet Union were insignificant; there was little trade between the EC and COMECON. After 1989/91 ‘Reuniting Europe’ concentrated overwhelmingly on the Central European states (such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary). The mid-1990s saw the signing of Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) with these countries and the implementation of Technical Assistance (TACIS) programmes.

The current Neighbourhood Policy of the EU (ENP) towards the East started evolving after the EU gained common borders with Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova from 2004. (Russia had had a common border with the EU since 1995, and the southern neighbours since the founding of the EEC.) From 2004 the EU, comprising the older 15 countries and the new member states, felt the need to evolve a Neighbourhood Policy which would anticipate the arrival of even more eastern states in 2007. The new member states had their own agendas and policy preferences in this area: the Baltic States had in fact been part of the USSR rather than just satellites.

The Neighbourhood Policy covers every country from North Africa to Ukraine and Belarus. The southern neighbours have been more the concern of the Mediterranean states of the EU; the eastern neighbours more the concern of Eastern Europe, the UK and Scandinavia.

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2008, European Union

Religion and the European Union: Identity, Politics, Law, Lobbies

Religion and the European Union: Identity, Politics, Law, Lobbies

Lucian Leustean and John Madeley

At the Faith in Europe Briefing Meeting on 20 November 2008 Lucian Leustean spoke on the subject of the changing self-understanding of Europe. Much of his talk was based on material he and John Madeley had commissioned for a special issue of the journal Religion, State & Society (RSS) (issue No. 1/2 (March/June ) 2009) which they co-edited. The following text is an abridged version of their article, ‘Religion, Politics and Law in the European Union: an Introduction’, in that issue of RSS. It is reprinted here by permission of the publisher Taylor & Francis Ltd, http://www.informaworld.com
Copies of the 230-page special issue of RSS can be ordered via the journal’s Editor , Philip Walters, at a special price of £30. The publishers say that it may be possible to offer a lower price if a number of people were interested in making a bulk purchase.
The material in the special issue of RSS is also going to be published by Routledge as a book, Religion, Politics and Law in the European Union, on 6 August 2009, approximately 256 pages, at £75.
If you are interested in obtaining a copy or copies of the journal or the book please contact Dr Philip Walters.

The principal focus of the contributions to this volume is on examining the role of religion within the political evolution of the European Union and its institutions and to identify the ways in which religious communities have related to the challenges of an expanded united Europe. What role have religious communities had in the construction of the European Union? Is there a common European identity rooted in religion as claimed by some? In which ways have religious communities entered into dialogue with the European institutions? To what extent and by what means can religious communities be seen to influence decision-making processes in the EU?

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2008, Europe (general), European Union

The Future of Mission in Europe – Conference at Redcliffe College

Report on a conference at Redcliffe College – Centre for Mission Training
3-4 January 2008

Dorothy Knights

The Europe Mission Forum has been following the three-year Mission Research of Darrell Jackson based in Budapest. He was sponsored by the Conference of European Churches and Church Mission Society. He has now moved to the above college in Gloucester where, as a continuity of that work, he directs the Nova Research Centre. Nova was officially launched with a dinner on Thursday evening.

I was very pleased to represent CTBI at this event. Many of the forty participants had met Darrell a year ago when the first Conference for the Future of Mission in Europe was held at Redcliffe. They all came from Evangelical backgrounds, a new experience for me, but I felt comfortable thanks to Darrell’s initial lecture ‘Evangelical and Ecumenical Missiology in Post-Communist Europe’ which was as accompanied by a helpful chart. All Ecumenical references were familiar to me and it was very good to see there were more convergences than divergences. I was surprised at first that hardly anyone, except the CMS delegates, knew what CTBI stood for, but when they were told they without fail said it was ‘a good thing’ and that churches should come together.

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2007, European Union

Is the Expanded EU More Receptive to Christian Voices?

Is the Expanded EU More Receptive to Christian Voices?

Jonathan Luxmoore

(Note: This summary of a presentation at a Briefing Meeting on 19 July 2007 was updated in March 2008)

Is the Christian heritage of Europe being disregarded or ignored? Despite all the evasions and prevarications of recent years, can we be confident that the EU still embodies some kind of Christian purpose?

Three years after the major enlargement of the EU, controversy over the religious heritage of Europe and the specific Christian contribution appears to have calmed, and we are now in a more settled situation. There is clearly a deep reluctance to acknowledge Europe’s Christian heritage directly. As expected, there was no reference to God or Christianity in the EU’s new Reform Treaty, adopted at the last Inter-Governmental Conference in December to replace the ill-fated Constitution. But it is also clear that churches and religious communities are being listened to, at least sometimes! I personally don’t believe that we are witnessing ‘mass apostasy’ or ‘spiritual suicide’ in Europe (with due respect to Benedict XVI, George Weigel and others). The situation is much more complex and nuanced.

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2005, European Union, Greece

The Greek ID Cards Conflict: a Case Study on Religion and National Identity against the Challenges of Increasing EU Integration and Pluralism

The Greek ID Cards Conflict: a Case Study on Religion and National Identity against the Challenges of Increasing EU Integration and Pluralism

Lina Molokotos-Liederman


Greece is like the daughter of a mixed marriage. As the first EU member-state of Orthodox tradition and due to its religious, cultural and historical profile, Greece has a dual outlook both to the West and the East. It did not directly experience the Renaissance, the Reformation or the Enlightenment and is the only Orthodox country not to have lived through Communism. It is also at the origins of the classical tradition but also ambivalent towards the western world. Because of that, Greece has a somewhat exceptional socio-religious profile compared to the Western European religious model of secularisation and religious modernity/postmodernity.

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2003, Europe, European Union

The Impact of Prospective EU Entry on the Cultural, Social, Political and Economic Situation in Central Europe

The Impact of Prospective EU Entry on the Cultural, Social, Political and Economic Situation in Central Europe

Maurice Fraser

In December 2002 it was agreed that ten countries would join the European Union: Cyprus, Malta and eight formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe (the three Baltic States, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia). Their accession date has been set for 1 May 2004. All these countries had fulfilled entrance criteria named in 31 ‘chapters’ and covering a very wide range of concerns; the European Commission had taken a very tough stance on all of these. Hungary is regarded as the best prepared of the accession countries, with a large slice of foreign investment. The Baltic States, where there has been a remarkable story of reform, are led by Estonia, which for some time has been the darling of international economic institutions. Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Estonia have recently been experiencing 4 per cent annual economic growth as opposed to 2.5 per cent for the EU as a whole. Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia started their accession process only in 2000, but have made good progress on catching up with those who started in 1998. Romania and Bulgaria are progressing, but much more slowly, and Romania has been experiencing economic stagnation for a number of years. The time line for the accession of these two countries is now around 2007.

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2001, Europe, European Union

Eastern Europe’s Churches and the Challenge of E.U. integration

Eastern Europe’s Churches and the Challenge of EU Integration

Jonathan Luxmoore


Westerners generally do not realise how central a foreign policy issue the question of EU membership has been in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. It is the nexus around which all economic and political discussion has taken place. There are no significant differences between the centre-right and the former communists (the centre-left) on the issue; only some fringe parties are opposed to EU membership. The candidate countries watch each other like hawks, especially in the context of EU Commission reports on the extent of their readiness to join. Visiting EU ministers are always asked same first question: ‘When do you think we’ll be allowed to join?’

Five post-communist countries have been negotiating membership since March 1998: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia (in addition to Cyprus and Malta). Five others have opened negotiations since – Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia – and some of these are now catching up. The Nice summit in December 2000 agreed that enlargement could take place from 1 January 2003, and Poland hopes to complete the process in time for the European Parliament elections in 2004.

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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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