Hospitality Europe: Visit to Brussels

From 7 to 9 October 2014, The General Councillor responsible for the European Region, Br. Rudolf Knopp, visited the European Office of the Order, Hospitality Europe,  accompanied by Mr. Klaus Mutschlechner. The main purpose of the visit was to liaise with some European institutions and organizations of particular importance for the Order. During the visit several interesting new prospects opened up for future collaborations at the European level.

The first visit was to the office of Caritas Europa (http://www.caritas.eu).  Here, Br. Rudolf and the director of ?Hospitality Europe, Mr. Carlo Galasso, met with the director of the Permanent Delegation of Caritas Germany to the European Union, Mrs. Anne Wagenführ (http://www.caritas.de/diecaritas/deutschercaritasverband/verbandszentrale/arbeitsbereiche/europa/europacenterpage).  After a very interesting exchange of experiences, some concrete possibilities for collaboration were also discussed. The Hospitality Europe Newsletter will provide further details in due time. 

Br. Rudolf then met with the Italian Euro-MP, Mrs. Patrizia Toia. Mrs.Toia, who has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004 and was previously Minister for Community Policies (D'Alema cabinet) and for Relations with the Parliament (Amato cabinet), was especially interested in the repercussions of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and ensured her support in possible efforts to raise European funds. Mrs. Toia, who was contacted by the director of our European Office, Mr. Galasso,  committed at once to supporting us in the fight against Ebola. The meeting with Br. Rudolf will be followed up by contacts with the Office of International Cooperation of the General Curia and the Juan Ciudad NGO of the Spanish Provinces.

During his first visit to Brussels Br. Rudolf had already met with the Office of the Commission of the Bishops? Conferences of the European Community (COMECE http://www.comece.org). This time too he contacted and spoke with the representatives of this important institution and met for the first time with the Secretary General, Mr. Patrick Daly. The Deputy Secretary, Mr. Michael Kuhn, also attended the meeting, during which various ethical issues were discussed. Secretary General Patrick Daly underlined that the future planning of the Bishops’ Commission will focus especially on demographic change, an issue that the Order and its’ European Office are also following closely. Within this context, another issue that deserves special attention is intergenerational fairness, which is often considered only as it relates to the young generations, but deserves to be looked at from the perspective of the older ones as well.  In the future, collaboration between COMECE and Hospitality Europe in this area will be stepped up.

The visit to the Bavarian Representation at the EU was, needless to say, a special experience for Br. Rudolf, he being a Bavarian citizen (http://www.bayern.de/Bayern-in-Bruessel-.355/index.htm). The contact person for healthcare, Mrs. Tanja Decker, informed the participants in the meeting on the activities and main priorities of the Representation. Future contacts with the Representation may be useful to our office especially as a source of information.  It is also possible that, under certain conditions, the Representation will lend its premises for meetings and gatherings.

During a business dinner, Br. Rudolf exchanged a great deal of information and experiences with Fr. John Dardis and Fr. Martin Maier of the Jesuit Order.  Fr. John Dardis is the President of the European Commission of the Society of Jesus, while Fr. Martin Maier runs the European Social Center of the Society of Jesus in Brussels. This exchange was very important and useful for the work of our Europe Commission.

On the last day of the visit, Br. Rudolf and Mr. Galasso were received by the Nuncio to the European Union, H.E. Alain-Paul Lebeaupin. The Nuncio asked to be informed about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the situation of the centers of the Order in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The meeting also served to prepare the speech that the Nuncio will deliver at the next meeting of European spokespersons of the Order which will take place at the General Curia in Rome on 2 December 2014.

The German Euro-MP Dr  Peter Liese was the last person Br. Rudolf met with during his visit to Brussels.  Dr. Liese is a medical doctor and a member of the Committee on Public Health of the European Parliament. They discussed various topics regarding health, such as the introduction of a European card for healthcare professions, the cross-border recognition of academic  qualifications and cross-border access to healthcare services. The implementation of the related EU directives, in practice, is often complicated, although there are very encouraging successful examples.

The meetings ended with a visit to the European Council headquarters. This was a special experience for the guests, since it is not easy to gain access to the headquarters of this important EU institution.

We can say that the visit opened up new areas of collaboration and interesting prospects for the Europe Commission, the Office for International Cooperation and Hospitality Europe.




 

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