The Brief — Europe’s neocon Christians vs Pope Francis

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter. [[EPA-EFE/VATICAN%20MEDIA%20HANDO…]

It’s common knowledge that we’re living in an era where ideological lines are often blurred. Equally clear is that far-right populists interpret religion according to their political views.

A representative example is what Pope Francis said about migration during a recent visit to Greece, in comments that expose the raison d’être of Europe’s far-right.

Last Sunday, the Pope returned to the island of Lesbos and visited the migration camp there. He described Europe’s neglect of migrants as the “shipwreck of civilisation”.

“In Europe, there are those who persist in treating the problem as a matter that does not concern them,” the Pope said, adding that “when human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders become irrelevant”.

The Washington Post wrote that during the visit to Greece, Pope Francis focused on the need for Europe to return to its roots while avoiding the temptations of populism and nationalism. His words focused particularly on the plight of migrants and refugees, urging European leaders to welcome and integrate religious, ethnic and cultural differences.

In 2019, the Pope thanked and even proposed an atheist called Alexis Tsipras for the Nobel Peace Prize for his handling of the migration crises. He met Tsipras again last week.

“I thanked Pope Francis today for the harsh sincerity of his speech”, Tsipras said after the meeting, adding that the two had discussed the hypocrisy of EU governments on the plight of refugees and migrants.

“They talk about human rights while building fences and rejecting any legal migration route,” Tsipras added.

In Hungary, the Pope’s comments on migrants were largely ignored. “The Pope campaigns in favour of migration,” one pro-Orbán channel put it.

At the same time, Viktor Orbán, Marine Le Pen, Jarosław Kaczyński and the other champions of the ‘Christian Europe’ are making efforts to bury their existential differences and join forces to combat migration and help Europe return to its Christian roots, even if migrant pushbacks and fences are about as un–Christian as it gets.

A possible solution to help confused Christian voters understand who represents what in today’s European politics is for Christian Democratic parties to tell them, as Pope Francis did, that Viktor Orbán only pretends to be a Christian.


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The Roundup

For 20 years, internet service providers have been tasked by relevant authorities with taking down illegal content. With the Digital Services Act (DSA), obligations are largely moving to online platforms.

Two weeks after the European Parliament agreed its negotiating position on the minimum wage directive, a large majority of national ministers also agreed on a common position, with the only dissent coming from Denmark and Hungary. This paves the way for negotiations between Parliament and member states, possibly leading to the adoption of the directive as soon as spring 2022.

In an exclusive interview with EURACTIV, Christiane Lambert, president of the EU’s farmers association COPA, looks back at the major agricultural issues of the year in France and Europe and discusses her expectations for when France takes over the rotating EU Council presidency next month.

France will adopt a series of health restrictions without resorting to “disproportionate measures”, according to an announcement made at a press conference on Monday evening (6 December) by Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran. EURACTIV France reports.

Cars powered by synthetic fuel produce similar quantities of harmful air pollutants to fossil fuels, according to a new study commissioned by the clean mobility NGO Transport & Environment. As Europe shifts to zero-emission passenger cars, the study challenges the green credentials of e-fuels, touted by the liquid fuel industry as a way to reduce the environmental impact of internal combustion engine vehicles.

After four years at the helm of the federal economy and energy ministry, a coal phase-out and a pandemic, Peter Altmaier passes the torch to Greens co-leader Robert Habeck, who will lead the new ‘super-ministry’ of energy, economy and now also climate protection.

The inauguration of Karl Nehammer as Austria’s new chancellor on Monday marked the end of the era of Sebastian Kurz and set the course for a return to the traditional political structures of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched another furious broadside against the EU’s handling of the COVID-19, accusing them of ‘vaccine apartheid’ and arguing that the new travel bans on travellers from some African countries defied scientific logic.

Look out for…

  • Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean receives Benny Engelbrecht, Danish Minister of Transport.
  • Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas participates via videoconference in meeting of EPP Ministers of Interior.
  • Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi delivers key-note speech in Renew Europe annual Roundtable on Western Balkans.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Benjamin Fox]

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