A series of incidents that dismayed Europe and the world in the past couple of years, have
revealed an urgent need for a greater solidarity among the member states of the European
Union. The war in Syria, political instability in the south-Mediterranean region, Crimea’s
annexation by Russia, the economic crisis in Greece and other countries, the so-called
‘bloody terrorism’ of ISIS against Europe and finally crowds of asylum seekers and migrants
on their way to the old continent from all over the world, require a thorough discernment of the
new situation and a joint action taken in a spirit of solidarity by all the European Union’s
The sixteenth edition of the conference on the role of the Catholic Church in the process of
European integration co-organised by COMECE together with partners in Cracow, on
September 21-22, 2016 focused this time on four specific issues imperatively necessitating
solidarity in the EU, namely the solidarity in security and defence policy, solidarity towards the
challenges of migrations and asylum, solidarity in reference to the energy and climate policy
and finally the role of Churches and religious communities in strengthening solidarity in
The Catholic Church and other religious communities have their role to play in encouraging
European solidarity, not only providing with the best practice examples, but also through the
institutional dialogue with the EU. Acknowledging churches’ identity as well as their specific
contribution in shaping the process of the European integration shows their impact on the EU
policy. Fr. Olivier Poquillon OP, Comece Secretary General highlighted the need for a more
participative approach in order to combat the perception of the European Union as a
centralized, disembodied administration detached from the people’s reality. He also
mentioned the importance to promote EU good practices that led to the achievement of
decades of peace and prosperity in the old continent. Finally, he stressed the need for a better
involvement of the citizen across a constructive articulation of solidarity and subsidiarity.
The experts’ knowledge, as well as the discussions allowed the participants to better
understand European solidarity, which is a value often referred to at the EU level, but not
always soundly interpreted or subjected to possible reductions or even withdrawals resulting
in undesirable socio-political developments.
First panel focussed on the security and defence issues. The entire European security
architecture has trembled as the eastern flank of the continent has been destabilised. The
current Russian-Ukrainian conflict has been described as a game changer for European
security. In this context, the debaters agreed on considering that the unity of all of the EU
Member States was the best safeguard for their security.
Another panel discussed the threats against EU energy policy raising awareness about its
geopolitical fragility because of its excessive concentration on short term economical aspects.
Strategic EU energy security policy should be at the very heart of the European construction
without forgetting its geopolitical and ecological dimension, reminded by pope Francis. The
energy solidarity approach can boost prosperity for the people of Europe and enhance EU
position in the neighbourhood.
Last panel was dedicated to migration and asylum. The panellists addressed the principles
that should guide European societies in this matter, including respect of human dignity,
promotion of common good, solidarity and subsidiarity. Jose Luis Bazan, COMECE Legal
Advisor on Migration and Asylum, emphasised the importance of a responsible solidarity that
takes into account the reality of societies, reminding the “intelligent hospitality” and openness
that the Church must promote.
At the invitation of Card. Dziwisz, High representatives of all the Churches present in Ukraine
had an chance to dialogue together and to express their commitment to work jointly on
More information : http://www.kosciol-europa.org.pl
This initiative of the series of conferences on the role of the Catholic Church in the
process of European integration dates back to 2000 and aims at promoting a diversified
perspectives on the horizon of European unity, as well as at showing the substantial of the
Catholic Church in the process of European integration. Catholic Church brings its specific
contribution into the EU debate on the basis of Article 17(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of
Each year the conference is structured around workshops held on topics related with the
general theme relevat to the current state of play of EU policies. The event, inspired by H.E.
Mgr Tadeusz Pieronek, is organized by the Pontifical University of John Paul II, Konrad
Adenauer Foundation in Poland, the Robert Schuman Foundation in Luxembourg in cooperation
with the COMECE (Commission of the Episcopates of the European Community),
the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) in the European Parliament,
the Polish Delegation in the EPP (Christian Democrats) in the European Parliament, the
European People's Party and the publishing house "Around Us" (Gliwice).