Not the Last Word: Seeking a Confederal Europe

by Jonathan Tame, Thursday 5th July 2018

Brexit is not the last word on Britain’s relationship with other European countries. And nor is it the only agenda on the table. The Christian calling to love our neighbour as ourselves doesn’t stop at political, geographical or ethnic boundaries, as Jesus indicates in the parable of the Good Samaritan. So what might it mean for us in Britain to love our European neighbours at this present time?

The outcome of the Italian elections in March shows that populist discontent is a very real challenge to the status quo in the EU. The level of dissatisfaction with Brussels and the Euro project continue to run high, and European electorates are faced with two inadequate options. The first is the increasingly discredited vision for ‘ever closer union’ of the federalists, and the other is a populist nationalism that is deeply uncomfortable with large political or commercial organisations over which they have no control.

Is there an alternative vision to reform the EU that lies between these extremes? Two years ago Sallux commissioned our sister organisation Relational Research to set out a relational economic strategy for Europe. Sallux is the research unit of ECPM, one of the 12 European Political Parties represented in the European Parliament. They have adopted Relational Thinking as their political strategy, drawing primarily from the framework for Christian social reform developed by Jubilee Centre, Relationships Foundation and Relational Research.

The ensuing report by David Lee, Paul Mills and Michael Schluter, Confederal Europe – Strong Nations, Strong Union, sets out a third way between federalism and nationalism. Instead of being based on an ‘ever closer union’ politically, it points to ‘ever closer relationships’ between independent states.  A confederal structure can provide a framework to allow the gradual convergence of peoples and national institutions in a slower, organic process. The attempt to create that convergence through the rapid welding together of different political and financial structures (most notably the creation of the euro) has patently failed.

Confederal Europe sets out twenty policy proposals under different headings: political structures, international finance (to allow nations to opt out of the common currency), debt-free growth, a three-freedom single market (excluding free movement of labour), corporate governance, realism on migration and investment and welfare.

Since it was published last year, the report has been gathering more and more interest and the executive summary has been translated into five different languages. Most significantly, it is not only the small ECPM party which is considering it, but also their partners in the third largest grouping in the European Parliament, the ECR (European Conservatives and Reformers). The report authors are also due to train MEPs, along with their staff and researchers working with think tanks, in how to set out a relational strategy in their manifestos for the next European Parliament elections in 2019.

Prov. 29:18 states, ‘Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.’ We’re convinced that the biblical vision for society, centred on righteousness (the practice of right relationships) can transform Europe if we learn how to apply it to today’s institutions and policy challenges. No matter how Brexit pans out, let’s pray that Britain and her European neighbours will find a pathway for lasting reform that’s rooted in biblical revelation and wisdom.

 

This article was first published in the July 2018 edition of our Engage News Magazine

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Category: Blogs

July, 2018

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  1. Jacqueline Bridgeman says:

    When I read your April article I was horrified that you seemed to be using the ‘Jubilee Centre’ to promote Brexit. I am a Christian and a Remainer. Being a Remainer is not tribalism it is being aware of the tremendous harm Brexit is going to inflict upon our country and doing something about it. As a Christian I am concerned about my neighbours who will lose their jobs because of Brexit,be unable to pay their mortgages and rents or support their families. I am also concerned about the damage brexit will do to the NHS,many drugs are already becoming more expensive due to the falling value of the pound and their is an increasing shortage of doctors and nurses as they leave because Brexit has made them feel insecure and unwelcome in the UK. My greatest fear is that our country will become so impoverished we will not be able to fund the NHS. This is of huge importance to me as my Grandson has haemophilia and as the normal medication no longer works due to antibodies he has to rely on very expensive NHS medication.
    In your June article you suggest ways in which Christians in Brexit Britain can love their European neighbours. Well I would suggest that the best way is to remain members of the EU so that we can continue to share scientific, intelligence and educational projects with them. We do not want to be cut off from the rest of Europe we want our children and grandchildren to have the freedom to travel and learn about their European neighbours.To have the right to marry and live in another country.
    The referendum was 2 years ago, people voted leave because they thought it would make their lives better but now they know it is going to be a disaster they are changing their minds and they are allowed to do this because we are a democracy. The referendum is out of date, it does not reflect the will of the present generation of voters so we need to have another vote, this time a vote on the final Brexit deal. http://www.peoples-vote.uk/about

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