To make an input into the Future of Europe debate, QCEA has decided to consult Quakers across Europe by running seminars and a conference. The feedback from these efforts will be used to produce a report entitled a ‘Quaker View of Europe’, which will be used as a submission to the Convention, but will also prove to be a useful resource for Quakers and for QCEA. As background, QCEA has published seven briefing papers on spiritual values and citizenship in the context of the European Union. You can download the complete set here in English, French, and German.
The Future of Europe Debate
This Future of Europe debate was launched by Heads of State at the Nice Summit in December 2000 to prepare for changes to the Treaties in 2004. The idea is to encourage debate across Europe so that changes to EU structures are based on public consensus. Low voter turnout in European elections, protests at European summits and the Irish ‘No’ vote to the Nice Treaty all contribute to this new concern for public opinion. The EU faces three challenges of enlargement, globalisation and low public confidence. The Future of Europe debate aims to address the democratic deficit and involve citizens in the European process.
European Union Institutions and Structure
The three main institutions of the European Union are the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. The composition and key roles of these institutions, as well as other less well known institutions, and the EU Pillar System, are summarised
Aims and Values of the EU
Why does the EU exist? What are its aims? Are these aims based on certain values? These questions can be difficult to answer as the aims and values of the EU are not expressed in one place; thus one of the objectives of the Convention on the Future of Europe is to simplify the Treaties of the EU so that the aims and objectives form one simple ‘constitutional text’.
Discussion: what are ‘Spiritual’ Values?
Do the shared spiritual values of Quakerism give us a common political outlook?; What is the role of religion and religious groups in the governance of a diverse, multi-cultural society?
Discussion: Active Citizenship and Civil Society
The terms ‘citizen’ and ‘citizenship’ encompass different meanings: first, the term ‘citizenship’ can be regarded as a legal concept, which refers to someone holding a passport from a particular state and enjoying a number of rights in that particular society. Second, ‘citizenship’ can describe much more than this – a moral idea of people actively contributing to the society in which they live. Quakers have always been aware of this second dimension and have thought about their roles as citizens in society.
The European Union in the World
The role of the European Union in the world is one of the key issues to be addressed by the Convention on the Future of Europe. Historically, the EU was set up to foster co-operation between formerly hostile states in order to prevent war between them. Today it is a unique multi-lateral organisation, working on European policy for European issues. While the EU is currently one of the world’s major economic powers, this is not matched by its political weight. Before looking to the future and to the various options open to the EU, it is necessary to understand where the EU is in terms of external relations today.
To Find out More…
Find out more about using QCEA, contacting your Member of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and to contribute to the Convention on the Future of Europe.