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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The new secretary for European Affairs Benoît Willemaers S.J. analyzed the latest State of the Union address. On Wednesday 13th, Ursula von der Leyden presented her State of the Union address. It mixed strongly positive reminders of the achievements of her Commission in the face of past challenges, discussions about current challenges, and finished on a call to work towards enlargement to Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans. Credit has to be given when it is due and there is certainly something good to say on how the EU was mostly able to preserve unity in front of the COVID and Ukraine crisis. But most commentators agree on the fact that the overall positive tone of the address was a bit tone deaf compared to the perception of the situation by European citizens faced with a cost of life crisis, geopolitical uncertainties, and the ever more obvious consequences of climate change. Leadership is about the ability to confront unpleasant truths and to present the trade-offs involved in any policy, not hide these under the rug. On climate change, von der Leyden went all in on industrial policy and clean energies. Projecting unwavering confidence on the ability of Europe to find technological solutions to the decarbonization of industry – as long as its actors are protected from unfair competition -, she offered a vision of a possible green European policy. This is certainly welcome but this single mindedness left no place for mentioning any other aspects of the necessary transition. Nothing on circular economy, nothing on changing lifestyles and certainly nothing on questioning what kind of growth we might actually want. A similar lack of ability (or desire?) to show leadership was obvious regarding agriculture and preservation of nature. Faced with the necessity to appease the EPP on the topic, von der Leyden expressed her conviction that both agriculture and preservation of natural habitats go hand in hand, threw some kind words to farmers and then proposed a “strategic dialogue” on the future of agriculture in the EU. It would have been interesting to know more about how she intends to support those who, in her own words, are already working towards a more sustainable agriculture. Continue reading here. 
JESC is happy to announce that it has recently become a member of the Network of Institutions for Future Generations (NIFG). This partnership marks a significant milestone in JESC’s journey towards advocating for the establishment of an EU Future Generations Office. The NIFG affiliation opens doors to valuable opportunities for intellectual exchange and the potential for collaborative efforts. Many members of NIFG are public institutions that work on the rights of Future Generations in various countries. Therefore, besides the exchange on significant theoretical knowledge, the NiFG provides a great opportunity to learn more from its member’s experience and about practical aspects of the work on this important topic.
European Leadership Programme. The time of the year to say goodbye and to wish everyone a great continuation has come again. This month we're saying goodbye to our Spring 2023 cohort. Last Thursday, July 6, we celebrated the 9th cohort's graduation ceremony at the Press Club Brussels where we were delighted to be joined by numerous friends, alumni, and partners of ELP - both online and in-person! This coming together to celebrate the achievements over the last few months was opened by Filipe Martins SJ, JESC Director, and professor Nicolas Standaert, member of the board of directors at UCSIA. After hearing from a current ELP Fellow representative, Teresa Pallerés-Ramos, and an Alumni representative, José María Arroyo Nieto, as well as watching a moving recap video of this cohort's semester, there was a one-of-a-kind speech from keynote speaker Franck Janin SJ (which you can access here), President of the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials. Finally Fr. Hvroje Škrlec, from the Apostolic Nunciature to the EU, closed the ceremony with a final blessing upon the future path of the Fellows. It was a great pleasure to see new and familiar faces. The ELP team thanks all who were able to celebrate with us, whether online or in-person. JESC
JESC is pleased to announce the arrival of Benoit Willemaers SJ as its new Secretary for European Affairs. A Belgian Jesuit priest, Benoit joined the Society in 2006, after a formation in Political Sciences and European Affairs at the University of Liège and at the College of Europe in Natolin (Poland). During his time in the Society, he successively worked for the Belgian office of the Jesuit Refugee Service, in youth pastoral activities in Brussels, and as a university chaplain in Namur.   JESC’s Secretariat for European Affairs aims to follow and encourage discussions and initiatives around the ideas of common good and social justice in European politics and policies, following the inspiration of Catholic Social Teaching. As such, Benoit will coordinate JESC’s interactions and collaborations with partners – individuals, groups, organisations – who share the same goals. 
In the last week of April, JESC’s Future Generations project held its first workshop at the beautiful Maison Notre Dame du Champ d’Oiseau in Brussels. A two-day open and creative discussion among environmental professionals and high-level civil servants from the main institutions of the EU discussed some theoretical questions with very practical implications: Does it make sense to set up an office that has the mission to ensure long-term thinking in the EU? In case it does, should it work in the legislative procedure, or should it be a watchdog focusing on implementation? What would be the best way to make it a legitimate and efficient actor? These are questions that will continue being addressed in this project’s next workshops, and a short summary of the findings will soon be available. This month, JESC has published its 2022 Annual Report which provides a detailed overview of the 2022 developments and achievements that have taken place within JESC. Read all about the efforts focusing on promoting the vision and values of Europe through a range of activities, publications, projects, and events here.
The European Leadership Programme (ELP), in partnership with UCSIA  and USOS (the University Foundation for Development Cooperation), is offering a Research Fellowship to someone from the Global South who is interested in supporting the network of associated partners in the Global South. The Fellow will be joining the USOS staff team based on their interests/talents, and more importantly developing their own project within the field of social economy, ecology, social justice, or European policy. The Fellowship lasts 10 months, starting from ELP's Fall 2023 cohort. Find out more and apply here.