The ambition to comment on public affairs, in a field as vast and complex as the EU, often seems a faintly absurd activity. A character in Vladimir Nabokov’s semi-autobiographical novel “The Gift” offers a useful warning:
‘Shchyogolev launched on a discussion of politics. Like many unpaid windbags he thought that he could combine the reports he read in the papers by paid windbags into an orderly scheme, upon following which a logical and sober mind (in this case, his mind) could with no effort explain and foresee a multitude of world events’. Continue reading
EU Development Days - image: eudevdays.eu
Les Journées Européennes du Développement existent depuis 2006, année où elles furent créées par Louis Michel, alors Commissaire européen au développement et à l’aide humanitaire. Cet évènement public est à la fois une vitrine et un lieu de réflexion en matière de coopération au développement.
La 5e édition s’est tenue les 6 et 7 décembre 2010 à Bruxelles et était organisée conjointement par la Commission et la Présidence belge du Conseil de l’UE. Après la gouvernance en Afrique, le changement climatique, les aspects locaux du développement, la citoyenneté et le changement, le thème retenu cette année était l’avenir de la coopération européenne et ses nouveaux acteurs. Continue reading
Economy - image: katerha (cc: by)
On the day I write this reflection, Europe is undergoing ‘travel misery’. No planes will take off from Brussels airport today: so many flights were diverted to Brussels, from airports that could not accept landings, that de-icing fluid ran out. Last night, at St. Pancras international rail station, in London, the queue for Eurostar trains to Brussels and Paris stretched for 2 kilometres beyond the station. The BBC interviewed travellers who had waited for five hours in the freezing weather, with no assurance that they would travel the same day. Do you prefer road travel? On Sunday I spoke to a friend who had planned to leave today to drive the 1200 kilometres from Brussels to Slovakia, but who is now weighing the standard police advice to consider ‘whether her journey is really necessary’. Is it ‘necessary’ to visit one’s family at Christmas? Of course there are far worse things than delay. Continue reading
Book presentation - image: Josep Messa
Some time ago, I wrote an article about immigration for a Spanish cultural magazine. I finished it by saying that there were two great events in the history of the 20th century which, in spite of the tremendous atrocities we have unfortunately watched all over the world, were however enough to encourage my hope. The two events were the launching of the European Union and the wise solution of the apartheid problems in South Africa. Both have had two great personalities as inspirers: Jean Monnet and Nelson Mandela.
I discovered Jean Monnet’s figure and the wide scope of his work by reading his Mémoires while I was the assistant director to OCIPE in the early 21st century. I thought that the author deserved to be known in every region in the world, and his Mémoires should be translated and published into as many languages as possible. Continue reading
Renovabis - image: Elaine Rudolphi
Environmental problems are not restricted to individual regions or countries. On the contrary, they have a greater and sometimes even global dimension, e.g. water pollution, climate change or energy ressoures. The 14th International Congress of Renovabis last year was therefore entitled “Being responsible for the Creation – Ecological Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe”.
Instaed of summing up the input of the core speakers (who included Peter Card. Turkson from Rome, his intervention can be downloaded here), I would like to draw your attention to different ecological initiatives which are located either in Central and Eastern Europe or with a special focus on this region. Continue reading
Ecology and Jesuits in Communication - image: ecojesuit.com
José Ignacio García Jiménez
The Thirty-Fifth General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, in its Decree 3, invites Jesuits everywhere to understand the universal importance of ecological concerns and the need for reconciliation with creation. The Jesuit Ecology Network, facilitated in Europe by the Jesuit European Office and in Asia by the Philippines-based organisation Environmental Science for Social Change, or ESSC is developing a subscription newsletter as a tool for global communication for Jesuits and their lay collaborators: the aim is to share existing engagements and advocacy, and to learn more of our shared commitment to ecological change and to right relations with creation. The newsletter will be published initially in Spanish and English. Continue reading
Mateo Ricci - image: Jesuit Curia, Rome
Father Matteo Ricci SJ (1552-1610), a member of the second Jesuit generation to arrive in China, was the first European to enter the Forbidden City of Beijing. Of Italian origin, Ricci was trained in the practice of science and philosophy. Coming to China as a messenger of the Gospel, he sought to develop a mission that would evangelise the Chinese people without entailing the rejection of their culture. Declining simply to impose an imported religious discourse, he let himself be transformed by the customs of his hosts.
Through the mission of Ricci, Christianity, for the first time in its history, faced a civilisation older than herself, in a country whose population was greater than that of the whole of Europe. Ricci gained the respect of his hosts not by force of arms, but by a profound openness to the cultural, spiritual and philosophical wealth of the Chinese Empire. Continue reading
From Budapest to Brussels
In some ways, the events and concerns of 2010 in Hungary have followed the consistent trend of events since the early 1980s. The main thrust of public discourse and policy was shaped by the need to strengthen fiscal stability and to reduce the budget deficit. Hungary is still struggling with the deep social and economic crisis left behind by the incremental failure of the communist regime. Perhaps the most suggestive indicator of this struggle is the fact that the employment rate remains at the same level as at the end of the 1990s, after the collapse and the subsequent privatisation of industrial companies. Between 1994 and 1998, the number of employed persons declined by 1.3 million to 3.8 million. Even in the period before the global financial crisis, economic growth could not improve the level of employment, whereas the global crisis ruined the financial position of households, especially those which held foreign currency mortgages. In mid-2010, 23% of debtors in Hungary were more than 90 days in arrears with payments; 8.2% of debtors were classed as defaulters, the sums involved reaching more than 2% of GDP. Continue reading
50 years ago
Un premier arrêt de la Cour européenne des Droits de l’Homme
Lettre de l’OCIPE, n° 6, décembre 1960, pp. 9-10
Le 14 novembre 1960, la Cour européenne des Droits de l’Homme a rendu son premier arrêt dans l’affaire Lawless concernant la requête d’un citoyen irlandais contre son gouvernement. Le jugement portait sur les exceptions préliminaires et questions de procédure soulevées par le gouvernement intéressé. L’Irlande était représentée devant la cour par l’attorney général.
Dès ce premier stade du procès, les juges, appartenant à sept nations différentes, se sont prononcés en toute indépendance sur les questions qui leur étaient soumises par le gouvernement irlandais et ont repoussé ses conclusions. La Cour a statué par 6 voix contre 1. La seule opinion dissidente n’a pas été exprimée par le juge irlandais mais par un juge de nationalité hellénique. Le tribunal, à l’unanimité, a décidé de passer à l’examen du fond de l’affaire. Continue reading