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Europe's Responsibility for Global Development - Markets and Institutions after Seattle.

Europe's Responsibility for Global Development

Press Release - 1 April 2000 "Our responsibility is based on a universal duty of solidarity"

At the conclusion of the second Social Congress of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) on Europe's Responsibility for Global Development: Markets and Institutions after Seattle, held in Brussels on 31 March and 1 April 2000, the President of COMECE, Bishop Josef Homeyer, called for a network of experts from the Bishops' Conferences of the EU in order to define concretely the basis for a policy of global governance and to enable the Church to dialogue coherently with national governments and the European Commission. The Social Congress was addressed by, among other, Romano Prodi - President of the European Commission, Michel Camdessus - former Managing Director of the IMF, Rubens Ricupero - Secretary General of UNCTAD, and Bishop Diarmuid Martin - Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice & Peace. Many speakers emphasised the importance of solidarity in a future system of global governance. Mr Ricupero said: "At the root of the current malaise about globalisation is the fact that we have sacrificed the concept of interdependence. We need solidarity, and we have to work out how to integrate it into international law." In a keynote speech on Friday afternoon, Mr Camdessus reflected on the need to renew the "Bretton Woods" institutions (IMF and World Bank) founded in 1945: "Since 1945 the world has changed. Today we recognise that responsibility is based not on power but on a universal duty of solidarity." Mr Camdessus also said that a system of global governance had to be built on global democracy: "The strength of the global institutions will not be enough in itself. Each country should feel in charge. Extending this same principle to the people represents an essential value and will give a new sense to global citizenship." Mr Prodi, also giving a keynote address, explained the special responsibility of the European Union in this process: "A future system of global governance must be based on shared values such as justice and fair play, sustainability, transparency and democratic accountability. The European Union already enshrines and promotes precisely those values. They are part of Europe's distinctive political and ethical heritage, and they reflect in large measure our humanist tradition and the moral legacy of the three Mediterranean faiths." As part of a round table discussion at the end of the Social Congress, Mr Ricupero strongly emphasised that new trade rounds were not necessarily the solution to the trade problems of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). For some developing countries, mainly in Asia, the challenge is to gain access to global markets. What is needed, however, by the 48 LDCs, 33 of which are found in Africa, is investment, training, debt relief and development aid. Paying tribute to the success of the Jubilee 2000 Campaign to cancel Third World Debt, and to the role of Church organisations in that campaign, Mr Camdessus said it was now necessary to ensure that developing countries increase their development aid contributions from the current average of 0.23% of GDP to the promised 0.7%: "Christians should commit themselves to making sure that all the promises made by the international community are honoured." Bishop Homeyer, in his closing address to the Social Congress, told the delegates that the Church has a duty to tackle the problems posed by globalisation: "The alternative of withdrawing into the isolation of a special "religious society" simply does not exist. We have been given the task of being "the Church in this World", of living out our beliefs in this World; or to put it even more strongly, of not only talking about solidarity with the poor, but of ensuring that social, economic and political relationships and structures are based on solidarity and justice, even if that means changing the system." One hundred and fifty people took part in the Second COMECE Social Congress. Half of the participants came from the Bishops' Conferences of the EU, a quarter were representatives of Christian organisations and movements, and the other quarter were individuals linked to the institutions of the European Union. Representatives of the Protestant, Reformed and Orthodox Churches were also present. The Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community is made up of delegates from the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union. For the last few years, the Bishops' Conferences of the candidate countries have been invited to participate as observers. The mission of COMECE is to accompany the process of European integration through information and action. A specialist group is responsible for monitoring economic and social issues.

COMECE is a commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of the member states of the European Union. The Bishops' Conferences of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland are associate members. Contact: John Coughlan COMECE Press Officer Tel. +32 2 235 0515 or + 32 486 583250
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