“Not as bad as we thought… not as good as it could be” – this was my summing up of the European Parliament Elections to the Board of Eurodiaconia earlier this week. Not a very profound analysis! However, it is true. The concerns we had about the composition of the next European Parliament are still there but the numbers are not as high as we thought and we are now waiting to see how the ‘centrist’ parties decide on their co-operation and their agenda. I believe it will still be a challenging parliament as the dangers of ‘grand coalitions’ is that they agree on the lowest common denominators and do not have ambitious plans, especially in such contentious areas such as social policies. But the race is now on for what the leading views and people of the European Union will be for the next 5 years and we are keen to ensure that social policies are neither forgotten nor weakened. This means we have to be more active and more engaged at a European level. And perhaps we need to reassess who we are willing to work with and discuss with, as well as consider why people vote the way they do.
So, although the race is on it, might do us well not to race too fast and take the time to reflect on the elections and what the impact will be not just today but in two, three years time. If we continue to ignore or refuse to engage with some voices and opinions do we run the risk of their amplification or do we have opportunities to try and convince of our views and experience? Within Eurodiaconia we will be looking to engage and not marginalise where there are a willingness and openness to hear our views – and where there is a willingness to engage with our values. Values matter – more than races for leadership or groups or prestige. We need a Europe that is driven by specific values that are values that influence positive change in peoples’ lives around Europe and indeed globally. Eurodiaconia has those values – join us in telling others.
Have a good weekend,