2011, Belarus, Europe, Europe (general), Ukraine

Can Churches Contribute to Overcoming Divisions in Europe?

Can Churches Contribute to Overcoming Divisions in Europe?

Peter Pavlovic

The EU and its Neighbourhood Policy: Ukraine and Belarus

The EU Eastern Partnership

The EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a new dimension of the EU Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) towards the countries in the east. It was set up in 2008. The official EU statement states that “The EaP should bring a lasting political message of EU solidarity, alongside additional, tangible support for their democratic and market-oriented reforms and the consolidation of their statehood and territorial integrity.”

According to EU plans, the guiding principle of the EaP should be to offer the maximum possible, taking into account political and economic realities and the state of reforms of the partner concerned, bringing visible benefits for the citizens of each country. An essential component of the EaP will be, according to the EU statement, “a commitment to accompany more intensively partners’ individual reform efforts.”

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2010, Europe, Europe (general)

‘Europe’ in an Era of Bureaucratisation and the Intensification of Identity

‘Europe’ in an Era of Bureaucratisation and the Intensification of Identity

Richard Roberts

Note: this is not the actual text of Richard Roberts’ presentation at the conference, but his own subsequent summary, partly in the light of the discussions at the conference.

The ideas and identities of ‘Europe’ are contested because of their intimate connection with a conflictual religious history1, and this contestation has been expressed in extraordinarily intense ways in the religious history of Scotland, a small nation struggling for centuries to assert itself against a more powerful neighbour. In the course of the past half century since the end of the Second World War what were largely intellectual and ideological issues about belief have become strongly politicised. The most recent manifestation of this transition can be detected in the paradoxical tension that has arisen between demands for fuller integration of the European Union and its ever greater expansion.

The underlying tensions between the integrative ideals of the founding figures in the movement that strove to build the successive associations that now culminate in the EU can be detected in the differences between the European Constitution of 2001 and the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 that is now on the verge of full ratification. The proposed Constitutional Treaty for the European Union of 2001 contained the following stirring declaration in its preamble:

Convinced that, while remaining proud of their own national identities and histories, the people of Europe are determined to transcend their ancient divisions and, united ever more closely, to forge a common destiny…. Convinced that, thus “united in its diversity”, Europe offers them the best chance of pursuing, with due regard for the rights of each individual and in awareness of their responsibilities towards future generations and the Earth, the great venture which makes of it a special area of human hope….   (Draft Constitutional Treaty for the European Union, Preamble (Draft Treaty 2003, p. 10)

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2003, Europe, Rights - Religious, Human

European Religious Exceptionalism

European Religious Exceptionalism

Grace Davie

The traditional theory about modernisation is that it necessarily involves secularisation. In my 1994 book Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without Belonging I showed that a decline in churchgoing in Britain was matched by a decline in active membership of political and social organisations, and that what we were seeing in Britain was not so much a decline in belief but a change in the way that belief was expressed. The phenomenon seems to be a general symptom of late modernity. As young people escape from the authority of a church structure they don’t just lose their belief; it simply changes – becoming immanent rather than transcendent for example. And there is some evidence that once the shackles are shaken off people return to ritual. In countries like Poland or Eire, where young people still feel the pressure of church discipline, they tend to rebel; but in other European countries at least some young people (in contrast to their parents) are opting, once again, for church marriages.

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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, 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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