First Meeting of the “Comité des sages” yesterday
During a press conference held yesterday in the secretariat of the COMECE in Brussels, Mgr Noel Treanor, Secretary General of the Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the EU, presented the “Comité des Sages” established by COMECE to help prepare the Congress which will take place in Rome from 23-25 March 2007 . This Congress will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome. The committee of Wise persons made up of 25 eminent Europeans from 20 member states (see the list attached) is tasked with preparing a report on the values upon which the European Union is based. The Bishop members of COMECE hope that this report will provide a more explicit presentation of the values which are the basis of the process of building Europe.
During the press conference, Mr Stephen Wall, one of the two secretaries of the committee and former Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the EU, stated: “I am struck by the fragility of the European project. We remain 25 ferociously nationalistic countries in a sense of looking out for our national interests and one of the things the European union can and must still do, in my view, is to manage those differences at a minimum, but also to go beyond that through its shared values both in terms of solidarity between one country with another in the European union, but also in terms of our global responsibility. It seems to me that one of the things we need to address is the issue of translating values into policies.”
Mr Philippe de Schoutheete, also secretary of the committee and former Permanent Representative of Belgium to the EU, insisted that peace, freedom, reconciliation between peoples and the responsibility of Europe for the world are core values of the European Union. Noel Treanor added: “We hope that our initiative will help to create a space in public opinion where leaders can assume the responsibility of being courageous and of directing us in the vision of the founders. Often times we talk about leadership and lack of it. Leadership, to my mind, does not grow in a context where civic public opinion is weak or is indifferent”.
Afterwards, the Comité des Sages held its first meeting to examine the subjects outlined in the draft report. The content of this text will be discussed with representatives of the European youth in due course. The final text will be presented to the COMECE-Bishops and then to the participants to the Congress to be held in Rome in March 2007.