Bishop warns of UK’s disastrous isolation from rest of Europe

by
14 December 2011

by Ed Thornton

THE Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, who chairs the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel, said on Wednesday that it would be “disastrous” for Britain to become “isolated from the rest of Europe”. He was speaking after the Prime Minister blocked changes to the Lisbon Treaty at a summit in Brussels last week.

Bishop Hill, who also speaks on Europe in Parliament for the Bishops, said: “In the long term, it will be disastrous if we were actually isolated from the rest of Europe, economically and in terms of international relations. . . We are part of Europe, culturally and historically.”

Bishop Hill, who also speaks on Europe in Parliament for the Bishops, said: “In the long term, it will be disastrous if we were actually isolated from the rest of Europe, economically and in terms of international relations. . . We are part of Europe, culturally and historically.”

He said that the European struc­tures had been “created for peace” after the “major wars in the 20th century”, which were caused by divisions. “The structures need reform and accountability, but you don’t do that by stepping out you do that by keeping in step with Europe.”

He said that the European struc­tures had been “created for peace” after the “major wars in the 20th century”, which were caused by divisions. “The structures need reform and accountability, but you don’t do that by stepping out you do that by keeping in step with Europe.”

During talks in Brussels in the early hours of last Friday morning, Mr Cameron vetoed changes that would have imposed tough fiscal rules on EU countries. At a press conference afterwards, Mr Cameron said: “I said before coming to Brussels that if I couldn’t get adequate safe­guards for Britain in a new European treaty, then I wouldn’t agree to it. What is on offer isn’t in Britain’s interests, so I didn’t agree to it. . .

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During talks in Brussels in the early hours of last Friday morning, Mr Cameron vetoed changes that would have imposed tough fiscal rules on EU countries. At a press conference afterwards, Mr Cameron said: “I said before coming to Brussels that if I couldn’t get adequate safe­guards for Britain in a new European treaty, then I wouldn’t agree to it. What is on offer isn’t in Britain’s interests, so I didn’t agree to it. . .

“Of course, we want the eurozone countries to come together and to solve their problems. But we should only allow that to happen inside the European Union treaties if there are proper protections for the single market and for other key British interests.”

“Of course, we want the eurozone countries to come together and to solve their problems. But we should only allow that to happen inside the European Union treaties if there are proper protections for the single market and for other key British interests.”

Speaking on Wednesday, a senior church figure in Brussels said that Mr Cameron’s actions had “sorely tested” the goodwill of EU member states. “It is likely that British influence will begin to decline over the next few years. . .

Speaking on Wednesday, a senior church figure in Brussels said that Mr Cameron’s actions had “sorely tested” the goodwill of EU member states. “It is likely that British influence will begin to decline over the next few years. . .

“The door in Brussels remains fully open to creative British engagement across the full range of policy areas — although some Brussels commentators would argue that the UK has consistently overrated its importance within the EU, leading it to overplay its hand.”

“The door in Brussels remains fully open to creative British engagement across the full range of policy areas — although some Brussels commentators would argue that the UK has consistently overrated its importance within the EU, leading it to overplay its hand.”

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, who co-chairs the Meissen Commission, and is a member of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel, said that it was im­portant to recognise that Germany “has been hampered for decades since the war about not being strong, and there­fore has had a very strong drive for a united Europe”. France and Ger­many, he said, “have never known what to do with the UK; even when we are in, we don’t seem to want to be.”

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, who co-chairs the Meissen Commission, and is a member of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel, said that it was im­portant to recognise that Germany “has been hampered for decades since the war about not being strong, and there­fore has had a very strong drive for a united Europe”. France and Ger­many, he said, “have never known what to do with the UK; even when we are in, we don’t seem to want to be.”

Bishop Hill convened a meeting on 30 November and 1 December with church leaders from Viborg in Denmark, and Every in France, with which the Guildford diocese is twinned. A statement from Guild­ford diocese said that the church leaders, who were joined by Pro­fessor Alister McGrath, of King’s College, London, discussed “matters of common concern”, including “questions of Islamic/Christian rela­tions” and “evangelisation and the New Atheism”.

Bishop Hill convened a meeting on 30 November and 1 December with church leaders from Viborg in Denmark, and Every in France, with which the Guildford diocese is twinned. A statement from Guild­ford diocese said that the church leaders, who were joined by Pro­fessor Alister McGrath, of King’s College, London, discussed “matters of common concern”, including “questions of Islamic/Christian rela­tions” and “evangelisation and the New Atheism”.

“The question behind our meeting is simple,” Bishop Hill said. “How can we credibly proclaim belief in God through Christ in European societies where a sometimes lazy atheism has become fashionable in articulate cultural circles, not least within the national media?”

“The question behind our meeting is simple,” Bishop Hill said. “How can we credibly proclaim belief in God through Christ in European societies where a sometimes lazy atheism has become fashionable in articulate cultural circles, not least within the national media?”

Question of the week: Is Mr Cameron’s European policy right?

Question of the week: Is Mr Cameron’s European policy right?

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