There is a school of thought that says that leaders are never appointed – they emerge. Leaders are not managers, they are people of vision who can drive forward change and bring people with them. This week, the European Union displayed some unusual approaches to appointing leaders. Abandoning an agreed (recognising it was not perfect) system where prospective leaders had outlined their vision for Europe and how they would bring people with them for horse trading among member states. Those with a vision publicly presented and scrutinised were abandoned. What we are left with gives us no idea as to whether social policies will be given the importance they need and whether there will be the ambition to reduce inequalities across the EU, and promote a social and sustainable Union.

Leadership and vision matter and are part of our understanding of democracy and participation in public life. Whereas I may despair of how the EU has worked over the past seven days, I am also encouraged by a group of young people from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) I met recently. All are engaged in diaconia in their home countries and displayed levels and vision, commitment and leadership that left me both astounded and hopeful. Their ability to bring together the various trends of politics and socio-economic realities alongside their faith and commitment to social justice was both humbling and inspiring. These were leaders and they were being given space by their organisations to lead and bring forward initiatives that could change people’s lives.

We wait to see what EU decisions will mean in practice but for Eurodiaconia I will be thinking of the young people of LAC – and of Europe – who demonstrated true leadership and vision – and using them as my reference point.

have a good weekend,