The core mission at JESC (Jesuit European Social Centre) is to reflect on the life, policies and practice of the European Union. We seek an engagement which authentically expresses Christian faith, remains close to the poor and marginalised, analyses social reality with competence, and advocates for justice in European political structures. In a context in which the EU is undergoing the most acute political crisis of its existence, JESC seeks a critical but constructive engagement with the EU. As a work of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, JESC expresses the commitment of the Society of Jesus to a Europe where human rights, freedom and solidarity are the foundation of integration.

Operationally, JESC is organized in four Secretariats:

    • - European Affairs: an institutional presence in Brussels to the EU Institutions, and with ecclesial and civil society organizations that relate to them, facilitating discussion and reflection of European issues.
    • - Justice: coordination and assistance to the four Justice Networks of the JCEP and support for the Delegate for the Social Apostolate of the Conference.
    • - Ecology: support for the advocacy work on integral ecology of Jesuits and partners under the umbrella of EcoJesuit; publication of “Eco-bites”, our ecology newsletter.
    • - Leadership: running of the European Leadership Programme (ELP), a five-month Ignatian based formation that combines European politics, the experience of living in community, and practical insights into the European institutions, and also spiritual reflection, coaching sessions and volunteering activities.

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On February 22nd, the 10th cohort gathered at the Brussels Press Club to mark the culmination of their transformative journey within the ELP, proudly accepting their certificates as a testament to their dedication and growth over the past enriching five months. This graduation ceremony was honored to welcome José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission, whose speech underscored the significance of resilience, advocacy for justice, and tangible commitment to our united Europe. The event was captured in a poignant video clip featuring key moments from Barroso's address, encapsulating the essence of the ceremony's inspirational atmosphere.You can watch the full live recording of the event here.  As the evening drew to a close, guests, speakers, Fellows, and their families and friends gathered for a small reception. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who attended, both in person and online, as well as our esteemed partners whose invaluable support has contributed to the success of the ELP.Special thanks are also extended to our dedicated coaches and mentors, whose guidance has been instrumental in nurturing the growth of our Fellows. Last but not least, we express our deepest appreciation to our Fellows and alumni for their unwavering commitment and meaningful contributions, which continue to shape the legacy of the ELP. Want a little sneak peak into this cohort's life in ELP? Have a look...
On February 21st, we inaugurated our campaign at Atelier 29 in Brussels. This hybrid event captivated an audience of over 150 attendees. Filipe Martins, SJ, the director of JESC, and Alberto Alemanno, the founder of The Good Lobby, unveiled the core motivations and objectives steering our coalition. Béla Kuslits, the Senior Ecology Officer at JESC, presented our trio of policy proposals:  An Interinstitutional Agreement safeguarding the rights of Future Generations. The appointment of a Commissioner for Future Generations, serving also as Vice President. The incorporation of a Future Generations Impact Assessment within the Better Regulations Guidelines. Following these insightful introductions, a panel discussion featuring eight coalition members delved into the social and political hurdles confronting our campaign. The dialogue highlighted the varied insights coalition members contribute to this advocacy endeavor, with a special focus on the pivotal role of youth organizations. The event concluded with a networking reception, where engaging conversations with our guests sparked promising opportunities for broadening our collaborative efforts.
The Our Daily Bread webinar, on January 25th 2024, provided a deep dive into the crucial role played by Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) in shaping sustainable agriculture across Europe. The starting point for the conversation was the conclusion of the research project that was carried out in the second half of 2023 by JESC. Béla Kuslits, JESC Senior Ecology Officer introduced the context, the results and the way forward as we envision the next steps of this work. With about one-third of the EU’s budget allocated to the Common Agricultural Policy, coupled with other impactful policies such as the Nature Restoration Law and Soil Monitoring and Resilience Directive, the ecological and social implications of Food Policy are profound. Food is not only integral to our cultures, but its prices are among the most important economic and social indicators. What we eat, how we eat, and what is our relationship to the people who grow the food are all fundamental aspects of our societies.  Despite the clear message in Pope Francis’s Laudato Si, the need for more proactive measures remains evident. Indeed, FBOs could play a significant role in this space, thereby prompting the coalition-building initiative by JESC. We started with mapping FBOs who work in the field of food across the 27 EU countries. Our study revealed 150 organisations engaged in community works, advocacy, rural development, international development, direct land use, and research. Through their social media presence, they are reaching at least 1.6 million people, but the potential impact could be amplified even more, considering that 20% of the population in Western countries regularly attends church — a powerful demographic having the power to vote and influence.  The subsequent feasibility study among 30 organisations out of the 150 identified three primary areas of focus for sustainable agriculture within these groups: a vision of agroecology, lifestyle changes including dietary shifts and supply chain transformations, and solidarity with the Global South and rural Europe. Kuslits presentation: Faith-based Organisations in European Food Policy The second part of the webinar featured five distinguished speakers, each contributing a unique perspective: Dr. Stefan Einsiedel, from the Munich School of Philosophy, provided insight into the alarming escalation of pressure on our precious and limited resource – our land. He disclosed that a mere 29% of Earth’s surface constitutes land, with only 71% of it being habitable. Shockingly, almost half of this habitable land is already utilised for agricultural purposes, leaving only a small fraction untouched. The soil faces ongoing challenges, including shrinkage caused by new infrastructure, degradation, and desertification, among others. Safeguarding biodiversity necessitates the preservation of untouched ecosystems. Einsiedel presentation: How Socio-ecological Transformation can Succeed Dr. Suzy Serneels, the representative from Broederlijk Delen, brought attention to the unsustainable exploitation of natural and human resources within our global economy. She advocated for adopting a model, such as the doughnut economy, which considers the ecological ceiling whilst ensuring the preservation of social foundations. Stressing the significant role of food systems in crossing these boundaries, Dr Serneels emphasised the urgent need to address not only food production but also the power dynamics inherent within the food systems. Serneels presentation: Sustainable Food Systems Need System Change Johannes Moravitz, from COMECE, emphasised an integral understanding of ecology based on the Laudato Si’ encyclical, stressing the interconnectedness of economic, cultural, and social structures, as well as citing that humans should remain at the centre of solutions.  Juliette Maupas, from Église Verte, presented a practical eco-conversion tool for Christian communities, illustrating it with a long list of sustainable practices across 850 networks. Maupas presentation: Eglise Verte Communities & Sustainable Food Systems Finally, Ferenc Kiss SJ discussed the example of Hungarian rural gipsy communities and highlighted the need to revitalise agriculture to foster community bonds against poverty and the throwaway culture. The overarching theme emphasised the urgency for FBOs to unite and collaborate in advocating for sustainable agriculture, and actively contribute to shaping policies for a more resilient and equitable food system. The webinar served as a call to action for those vested in the intersection of faith and sustainable food systems, urging a united front in the pursuit of positive change. With this in mind, JESC envisions the possibility of creating a faith-based advocacy network on Food Policy, and will soon invite other partners interested in the cause, to discern together what the next steps might be.
On Thursday January 25th, Filipe Martins and Benoit Willemaers, respectively JESC Director and Secretary for European Affairs, participated in the Justice & Peace Europe Prayer Breakfast organised to present Pope Francis’ message on Artificial Intelligence (AI), published at the occasion of the World Day of Peace (January 1st). The Pope’s message was introduced by Mrs Maria Hammershoy, co-president of Justice and Peace Europe. Mrs Miriam Lexmann, MEP, then commented on the text’s resonances with the recent negotiations among European institutions to establish an act to regulate AI. After a time of Q&A, Mgr Noël Treanor concluded the event with some insightful comments.
A thought-provoking event on Pope Francis’s latest Apostolic Exhortation on climate change, Laudate Deum, took place on 9 December at the headquarters of COMECE in Brussels. Co-organised by COMECE and JESC in the context of the joint work of ELSiA, this hybrid event titled "Pope Francis's New Laudate Deum and the EU's Green Transition" brought together esteemed voices to discuss the challenges of the climate and ecological crisis and the need for a comprehensive approach to address them. Xavier de Bénazé SJ, eco-delegate of the Jesuit French-Speaking Province, Josianne Gauthier, Secretary General of CIDSE, and Marie Toussaint, member of the European Parliament, engaged in a fruitful dialogue, exploring possible solutions and emphasising the importance of placing the human person at the heart of these efforts. The conference highlighted the need to overcome differences and work together towards a sustainable future, ensuring that no one is left behind in the transition to a greener world
The JESC Carbon Initiative (JCI), a JESC Ecology project aimed at accompanying faith-based organisations in their ecological transition, is developing its new school-oriented line of work in a partnership with St Aloysius College in Malta. Filipe Martins SJ, director of JESC, visited the school last week and met the Global Citizenship team, responsible for implementing the project with the 1500 students and families. Learnings from this pilot experience will be useful to expand the project to other schools in Europe. Other already established lines of work include religious and faith-based communities (with successful experiences within the French-speaking and the Irish Jesuit Provinces), offices and events (namely the 2022 Loyola Social and Ecology Congress). More about JCI and its four lines of work can be read at JESC's Carbon Initiative’s renewed website.