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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Europeans will be called on to vote for their representatives in the European Parliament, from Thursday to Sunday, June 6 – 9, 2024. In a year marked by elections in many key countries (United States, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Pakistan to name only a few), the European elections might be an outlier, not being national elections, but they are certainly not the least important. Almost 400 million European citizens are eligible to vote. This makes the elections second only to India’s federal elections in terms of representative democracy worldwide. Insofar as they influence EU policies, their impact is global. While the European Union might not be the economic powerhouse it once was, it still belongs, with the United States and China, to a very select group of states defining world politics at large. European elections are also a unique affair. They span many different countries with wildly different history, traditions and languages. They mobilize dozens, if not hundreds, of political parties at national level, all offering their take on the issues of the day. They belong to a supranational system linking nation-states in a network of institutions and common obligations, in a setup that still is largely one of its kind. The following pages do not pretend to offer a comprehensive view of all that is at stake in the 2024 European elections. A few pages obviously would not be enough. They only aim to present some challenges facing the elections, highlight their potential impact and identify a few crucial issues which Europe faces today, from a Catholic perspective. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
The group of JCEP Provincial Eco-delegates had its first in-person meeting at the beautiful and welcoming Jesuit eco-spiritual centre Le Châtelard, near Lyon (France) on 11-14 April 2024. The group is formed by Eco-delegates appointed by the JCEP Provincials, in response to a request in early 2022 by Franck Janin sj (the then- President of JCEP), and started meeting online (once per trimester) in September 2022, under the coordination of the JCEP Social Delegate.  8 delegates were able to travel to Lyon, and 2 more joined the sessions online. The meeting counted also with the presences of Dalibor Renic sj (current JCEP President), a representative of the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology (SJES), the JCEP Delegate for Higher Education, the JCEP Delegate for Primary and Secondary Education and 4 people of the Ecology team of JESC (the Brussels-based social centre that supports the JCEP Social Delegate work).  The first day had a spiritual input by one of the Delegates and a short sharing by the JCEP President regarding the current Provincials’ approach of UAP4 in Europe, and then the presentation, by each Delegate, of the situation in each Province, structured according to the (ideal) job description of Eco-delegates and with a highlight of a provincial good practice. On the second day, the group embarked in a “theory of change” exercise, to map “where”, in terms of integral ecology, the Conference is now, and “where” the groups believes the Conference is called to be. This was followed by presentations of the different guest networks and projects, namely regarding JECSE, Kircher Network and SJES, and the 3 current Ecology advocacy and eco-transition projects of JESC (JESC Carbon Initiative, Future Generations Initiative and Our Daily Bread food systems-focused network). Key points taken from the meeting: The fact that the call for the “ecological conversion” is a spiritual and not only “ideological” or moral one, and this spiritual “rootedness in the Spirit” must be constantly nurtured and kept in mind. Jesuits and the Ignatian family can play an important role in helping the Church to develop the eco-spirituality that fosters this conversion. The acknowledgement that all European provinces are already taking steps towards this conversion, with effort and commitment, being important to respect the particular rhythm and possibilities of each one. At the same time, it was clear that change is fostered when means are allocated to it, and concrete plans of action at community, institution and Province level are designed, implemented and monitored. Finally, the recognition of the importance (and joy) of the small steps. It’s only normal that the journey of ecological conversion of each person and Province is not a fast or even sometimes clear one. But as many examples show, the main thing is to start, step by step. And then the Spirit will be able to guide and animate the way forward in this perhaps challenging but necessary change.
What does faith have to do with food policy? Extensively, concludes the latest research report from JESC. Faith-Based Organizations and European Food Policy is the result of research that began in July 2023 and sought to examine the involvement of faith based organisations across the European Union and their involvement in sustainable agriculture and food systems.  This study recognised over 150 organisations from various religious denominations across Europe and discovered an impressive array of organisations. Not only were these organisations varied in their work with the land, communities, research and involvement with the global south but were also varying in size. Whilst many of these organisations are involved in advocacy towards an EU level it is not so coordinated. The report argues that these organisations have a unique and grassroots voice to contribute to in the EU food debates concerning the Common Agricultural Policy, trade laws and others.  The report is available to view here and was written by JESC Ecology Officers Béla Kuslits and Colm Fahy with contributions from ELP intern Teresa Pallarés Ramos.  This report provides the foundations for the creation of a network called Our Daily Bread, of Faith Based Organisations advocating on the topic of food systems and sustainable agriculture at an EU level.  Please contact Colm Fahy (colm.fahy@jesc.eu) if your organisation is interested in hearing more about, or even consider joining forces, to this new JESC initiative. Click here to download and read our report
Between 28th February and 2nd March, 12 representatives of the network of Jesuit Social Centres in Europe gathered in Dublin for a three-day in-person meeting. The gathering aimed to develop a deeper common understanding of the issues at stake in the upcoming European elections, to share initiatives and identify possible collaborations. The question of preserving democracy in view of growing polarization and extreme views was at the centre of attention. Inputs from two experts, on the topic of interaction between migration and politics in Ireland and on impact-oriented communication, helped to deepen the debate. The meeting was also the occasion for the participants to discover the realities, challenges and accomplishments of Jesuit social works in Ireland, through meetings with the teams of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice (JCFJ) and of JRS Ireland. The participants also met with the Irish Provincial, Fr. Shane Daly, for a common Mass. Contributing to the success of the session was the outstanding Irish hospitality, orchestrated by the director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Kevin Hargarden, and the entire JCFJ team. To all, “go raibh maith agaibh” (“thank you” in Irish, literally “may good be at you”!) 
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.