COMECE participated in the Article 17 TFEU Annual High-Level meeting between the European Commission and religious leaders on the theme “The European Way of Life in times of instability”, on Thursday 18 January 2024. Speeches: Mgr. Crociata – Mgr. Hoogenboom | Watch the video | Photo Gallery
The meeting was hosted by Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission and responsible for Article 17 TFEU Dialogue. The COMECE delegation was composed of Mgr. Mariano Crociata (President) and Mgr. Theodorus C.M. Hoogenboom (Dutch Bishops’ Conference Delegate)
Mgr. Crociata shared some considerations about the impact of the crises of recent years on the European architecture and the future enlargement of the European Union. “Recent crises have also reinforced a sense of community in Europe, by helping realise the deep value of the European integration project and its founding values of human dignity, solidarity, unity, and fraternity”, the President of COMECE stated.
Referring to the tragic war being fought for nearly two years in the heart of our continent, Mgr. Crociata highlighted that the current context “also seems to present an opportunity to rediscover the strategic importance of the EU enlargement process for stability, prosperity, and peace in Europe”.
While also addressing the current conflicts and mounting international tension, Mgr. Hoogenboom, President of the COMECE Legal Affairs Commission, presented some reflections on two other key EU policy areas.
Concerning the EU response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mgr. Hoogenboom stressed the importance to “strengthen the cooperation between EU Member States and the EU institutions to […] build a strategic resilience for a Europe of health”. He also called on the EU institutions to “work for global public health as a public good and to ensure vaccine access for all as a global moral urgency”.
On the recently agreed EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Dutch Bishops’ Conference Delegate indicated some of the aspects of the agreement that could be improved, among which the potential abuse of detention; the lack of means to minimise the suffering of those who are in a more vulnerable situation, including early-aged minors, pregnant women, elderly, people with disabilities or mental health disorders; the reception conditions at the border; and the absence of an effective right to appeal a negative decision at the border.
“Possible return to unsafe countries or areas should also be avoided. The respect of human dignity and the promotion of the common good, which includes solidarity and responsibility, must be the guiding principles of migration and asylum policies”, Mgr. Hoogenboom stated.
This format of dialogue is part of a long-standing practice supported by Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which foresees an open, transparent, and regular dialogue between the EU and Churches, religious associations or communities.