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Friday, 29 January 2010

House of Bishops' Europe Panel Comments on EU Strategy for Next Decade

A panel of senior Church of England bishops has told the EU that its plans for the next decade fail to reflect the needs of both the most disadvantaged and those 'ordinary citizens' who indirectly contribute to its financial and political viability.

The bishops, led by the Christopher Hill, the Bishop of Guildford and Chair of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel, were responding to EU 2020, a strategy paper outlining how to make the EU a smarter, greener, social market.

The bishops assert that:
  • more effort must be made to improve the EU’s financial and accounting transparency, and to reduce bureacracy. 
  • the welcome environmental focus of EU 2020 seems to be based purely on an economic argument for efficient growth rather on a commitment to the sustainable stewardship of global resources for future generations;
  • an emphasis on investment in vocational subjects that provide skills for industry ignores the importance of other subjects that sustain common life, and betrays “a fundamentally materialist approach that sees students as units of production subordinated to the demands of the market”.
While the bishops accept that EU 2020 paper is a reasonable summary of some of the challenges facing the EU over the next 10 years they argue that securing the support of stakeholders such as social partners and civil society would be easier if the vision for an efficient and innovative market economy is supplemented by policies for solidarity that across national borders to assist the most disadvantaged.

The bishops suggest that the EU faces much more fundamental issues than short-term economic problems: “If the financial crisis and economic recession has shown us anything it is that the very fabric of our economy and society was unstable. Europe’s citizens are now looking for something more stable and sustainable.”

To read the full submission of the bishops click here.

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