EKD Press Releases
"People, Not Markets, Should Be the Focus"
EKD Council chair to the WDR Europaforum at the European Parliament in Brussels
May 9, 2012
The chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) Praeses Nikolaus Schneider, on the occasion of the WDR Europaforum on May 9, 2012 at the European Parliament in Brussels, made a forceful appeal against the growing social inequalities in Europe and the resultant risk for European unity.
At this high-level conference of European leaders and economic representatives, Schneider discussed the question "Europe's political union: how social must the EU be?" with Alexander Alvaro, Vice-President of the European Parliament, (FDP), László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Integration, and two MEPs, Francoise Castex (Parliamentary Group Progressive Alliance of S&D) and Sven Giegold (Parliamentary Group Greens).
"The European market economy is a social market economy," the Council chair insisted. The current austerity policy must therefore be accompanied by social initiatives, or else "anti-European reflexes" among the population will grow. The reawakening of nationalistic and extremist parties in individual member states is a clear demonstration that a socially balanced reform policy can help prevent the nations of Europe from drifting apart. The Council chair thus applauded EU Commissioner László Andor's proposal to consider a minimum wage as a means of combating poverty. In this connection, churches together with their welfare institutions have a particular important role to play in the area of social services, by protecting those who are socially most vulnerable, strengthening social cohesion and contributing significantly to mitigating the consequences of the crisis.
Schneider warned against permanently suspending the democratic rules of play in the course of combating the debt crisis. He advocated for more active involvement on the part of the European Parliament in current crisis policy. The Council chair concluded by saying he was confident that the crisis would strengthen awareness of the importance European coexistence in the long term. In these politically and socially hard times, the churches in Europe play an important role in efforts to promote understanding and cohesion among nations.
Hanover/Brussels Mai 9, 2012
Press Office of the EKD Silke Römhild/Christopher Hörster