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Towards a Vision of Europe - A Time of Transition


62. This time of hope and expectation, however, is not without new dangers. The new space means old problems can come to the surface again. And the process of transformation itself, as with all processes of such kind, is bound to invite its own conflicts as well. What many see as a new future, is seen by others as a threat. It is a painful process. It is therefore of the utmost importance that as churches in Europe we also reflect upon the risks of this process of transformation. We must emphasize the following:

  • In the process of transformation which Europe is now going through, countries, groups and people will be under the temptation to give absolute priority to their own interests, their own rights, their own views. If this happens, the limited room for rapid change may be used up very soon. We plead: let this process of transformation be also a process of reconciliation. This means more than the absence of violence. It means also openness to the claims and rights of "the other side"; to both the capacity for change which is required from others, as well as to its limits.
  • The Single European Act, which aims at a barrier free market in the European Community after 1992, is already dynamizing the process of Western European integration. This raises both expectations and anxieties. The hope is that the well-being of many people will be improved. The fear is that this will happen at the expense of and at the exclusion of many others. As churches in Europe as a whole we must advocate that this opening up of the borders within Western Europe does not lead to a "bastion Western Europe" which becomes more closed towards the rest of the world. Economic cooperation, including measures to ameliorate the debt crisis, and also to lessen the technological gap between Western Europe and Eastern Europe and between Northern and Southern Europe are required. The same applies to other issues. Especially the policy towards refugees and asylum seekers will be a test of this openness. Moreover, the churches in the countries directly involved must be especially attentive to the effects of this integration on the North-South relations within Europe, on the needs of the poor within their own societies, on social security and on participation, and on the needs of nature to be respected and protected. Special attention has to be given to structures of injustice and exploitation that often accompany the tourist industry.

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