Meeting of the Social Affairs Commission of COMECE:
The consequences of the financial crisis
The Bishop members of the Social Affairs Commission of COMECE met in Paris on 8-9 October for their annual meeting. Their exchange of views on the topic of “The future of social protection and social policy in Europe” was marked by the crisis in the financial markets and its consequences for social policy in Europe.
« At the present time it is the case that the governments of the EU should undertake all possible efforts to end this crisis of confidence which is undermining the financial markets. The social teaching of the Church has for a long time recognised the idea of global governance in order to bring justice, transparency and responsibility into the world’s financial markets. Now the time has come to implement this social teaching. It is also important for our governments, as well as for the EU-Institutions, to start caring for the situation of those citizens who - without being responsible - will nevertheless have to carry the social consequences of the financial crisis. We have arrived at the precise moment where the European social model should prove itself in order to avoid turning the financial crisis into a political and social crisis.” With these words, Bishop Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich (Germany) and President of the Social Affairs Commission of COMECE concluded the meeting. Furthermore, the members of the Commission noted with interest the Declaration of the Council for Family and Social Issues of the French Bishops’ Conference concerning the financial crisis.
Invited to present the current situation of social security and pension systems in the EU, Ms Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou, MEP (Greece), called to mind the social agenda and the family package for a better balance between work and family, both launched by the European Commission. She however regretted that this agenda was not sufficient to face the current challenges of Europe as, for example, the demographic decline and the need to reconcile family life and professional life.
The Director General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission, Mr Nikolaus G. van der Pas presented the new social agenda from a political perspective. The social dimension would be an important way for the EU to counter the reluctance of many citizens towards the European integration process.
In the second part of their meeting, the Members of the Commission for Social Affairs of COMECE exchanged views on their respective priorities. In particular, they examined new initiatives to promote the social teaching of the Church throughout Europe. Bishop Piotr Jarecki, auxiliary Bishop of Warsaw and Vice-President of COMECE, presented a proposal for the first European Social Conference which will take place in Gdansk (Poland) in October 2009.
The participants at the meeting were Bishops and/or Secretaries of the Social Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences of Germany, England & Wales, Austria, Spain, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia as well as the Secretary General of COMECE, Fr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz.