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Christian values in the EU mindset

To what extent did Christian thinking have an influence on European integration?

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Christian values in the EU mindset

To what extent did Christian thinking have an influence on European integration?

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

The goal of this research was to investigate to what extent Christian thinking influenced the European integration after the Second World War. Christian thinking refers to values embedded within the Christian mindset. The reason for this research was the Nobel Peace Prize received by the European Union (EU). Aside from this, dr. M. Krijtenburg’s research on Robert Schuman, one of the main architects of the European unification project, was also a push factor for this thesis.
The research method was desk research using literature review. Furthermore, experts familiar with Christianity and European integration were consulted. Nonetheless, literature review was the guiding method of this thesis.
Key concepts of the European integration process are: human dignity, reconciliation, supranational thinking and subsidiarity. These key concepts are embedded in Christian thinking, as part of the spiritual and cultural European heritage. The European cultural heritage was arguably a main source of inspiration for the founding fathers of the European unification process.
The human rights charter (1948) defined human dignity. Philosophers and theologians from all over the world influenced in this way the theory and image of human dignity today. Human dignity could not be regarded as a specific Christian notion. However, Christian thinking has had an influence on how this value is perceived.
The value of reconciliation might have been a consequence of the common spiritual and cultural European heritage. It helped to achieve peace on the continent. Furthermore, this value may also be seen as an incentive to live in effective solidarity and put the common interest in coal and steel under supervision of a supranational high authority (ECSC).
The EU is a supranational organization. After the decline of the Roman Empire (4th – 5th century) Christianity remained the dominating religion in Europe. Although essentially different from state-supranationality, the organizational Catholic Church (encompassing Christianity) was arguably the first supranational organization. Furthermore, after the Second World War the Catholic Church was in favor of a supranational body which could help keeping the continent in peace (Pius XII, 1944). It should be noted that by that time the Catholic Church was the only organization adopting supranationality. The supranational aspect of the Catholic Church was an inspiration for the EU; however, it was not modeled after its organization.
The final value which characterized European integration is subsidiarity (Henkel, 2002). The principle of subsidiarity was mentioned for the first time by St. Thomas Aquinas (13th century, Thomas). It belongs to Catholic social teaching and was first clearly formulated by Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno. It was later further developed by other popes explaining how political (and governmental) functions should be organized. This theory belongs to the essential concepts of European integration. The principle of subsidiarity is clearly formulated in the Treaty on European Union (TEU, art. 5 (3)). According to the subsidiarity principle, decisions must be taken in the lowest level of governance as possible.
When looking at these four values which might have been of importance for the European unification process and European integration, it becomes clear that Christianity could have played a role. European integration might not be a Christian process; however, the discussed values are intrinsically connected with Christianity. Combining the Christian culture with the importance of Christianity in Europe was of great help shaping the European integration process. This, combined with the overall Christian culture and the importance of Christianity in Europe helped shape the process. In the context of the European unification process further research would be valuable to determine the extent of the influence of Christian thinking.

Toon meer
OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
AfdelingESC Europese Studies / European Studies
Jaar2014
TypeBachelorscriptie
TaalEngels

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