Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Popular News

HomeNewsEuropeEU Bishops: Enlarging EU presents opportunity and challenges

EU Bishops: Enlarging EU presents opportunity and challenges

Faced with prospect of enlarging the European Union to include new members, the Bishops of the European Union (COMECE) say the possibility offers hope and opportunities, but also presents a series of challenges that must be concretely confronted.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

EU Bishops have expressed their support for the prospect of future accessions to the European Union, saying it not only represents “a geopolitical necessity for stability on our continent,” but also “a strong message of hope for the citizens of the candidate countries,” as “an answer to their desire for living in peace and justice.”

The Bishops of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) did so in the statement they issued on Monday on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the major enlargement of the European Union in 2004. The statement follows their 17-19 April gathering in Łomża, Poland, for their Spring Assembly.

The Assembly, which was presided over by COMECE President, Bishop Mariano Crociata, was hosted by Łomża’s Bishop Janusz Stepnowski, the Polish delegate to the Assembly. 

COMECE Bishops gathered for Spring Assembly

COMECE Bishops gathered for Spring Assembly

Europe united in practical solidarity

In the statement, titled, Let us continue building Europe together, the Bishops welcomed expansion, but also recognized that this requires that both potential new members concretely pursue “reform in crucial areas,” and that the Union itself truly welcome new members properly.

Acknowledging that the war in Ukraine “has generated a new momentum for future accessions to the Union,” particularly for countries in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, the Bishops suggested this is “an opportunity to update the idea of a united Europe rooted in practical solidarity.”

In this context, they invited citizens and politicians to engage in a “deep reflection on our common value basis and the special bonds that unite us as a European family.”

‘Two-way process’

At the same time, the Bishops specified that “accession to the EU is a two-way process.”

They underscored that both “the countries aspiring to a future EU membership must continue pursuing the necessary structural reforms in crucial areas,” and that the European Union, for this EU enlargement process to be credible, must also take “concrete steps” in order to “become ready to welcome new members”.

The European Union, the Bishops stressed, must “re-think its ways of governance in order to allow its members and institutions to act timely and effectively,” as well as take into consideration the impact of “adjustments to budgetary frameworks, policies or areas of cooperation,” that especially affect the current and future member States’ “most vulnerable members” of society.

Bishop Crociata: Citizens’ participation in elections is vital

In his opening address to the Spring Assembly, Bishop Crociata recognized the value of the upcoming EU elections for strengthening the Union, calling the participation of citizens, “starting with our faithful,” “vital,” to helping EU countries.

Looking at the role of the EU in the world, the COMECE President warned that “in a multipolar world that sees the rise of new leading powers,” a European Union “divided by internal quarrels” and “unable to speak with one voice,” can only “prepare itself to pay the high price of marginalisation.”

Bishop Crociata, President of COMECE, at Spring Assembly

Bishop Crociata, President of COMECE, at Spring Assembly

As the Assembly reflected on the anniversary of the EU’s expansion in 2004, the Bishops held various conversations with various political and religious figures, in which they assessed successes and failures of the enlargement process, and gathered insights to enrich COMECE’s dialogue with EU institutions.

The next COMECE Assembly is scheduled to take place in Brussels from 27 to 29 November 2024.

Popular News

Roberto Benigni at World Children’s Day: ‘Open your eyes and dream’

Speaking after Mass in St Peter’s Square for World Children’s Day, the Italian comic...

Cardinal Pizzaballa thanks Italian Bishops for support

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem addresses a video message to the Italian Bishops as...

Sr Norma Pimentel and the experience that grounds her mission

Participants at the 2nd General Assembly of Talitha Kum welcomed Sr Norma Pimentel who...

Bishop Simard: Palliative care seeks to accompany people

Palliative care seeks to accompany men and women in the final moments of their...