Quaker Council for European Affairs

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Quaker House in Brussels

The Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) was founded in 1979 to promote the values of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in the European context. QCEA, based in Brussels, is an international, not-for-profit organisation under Belgian law.

What QCEA does[edit]

QCEA engages in advocacy and lobbying. It publishes briefing papers, reports and studies on themes of European and Quaker interest. These are read by politicians and decision makers as well as Quakers.

The organisation publishes a newsletter, Around Europe, which serves both to let those in positions of influence know what QCEA is thinking, and to give other readers information they might not easily find about things that are happening in Europe. It is sent ten times a year to addresses around the world.

QCEA also cooperates with other non-governmental and church organisations which share some of its ideals. Among these are the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, Kairos Europa, the Mennonite Centre in Brussels, the Ecumenical Centre, the Centre for European Security and Defence.

QCEA interacts with Members of the European Parliament, and with the activities of the Council of Europe. The organisation participates in seminars and conferences when these help to advance its aims.

It arranges its own seminars and conferences, and each year it holds a Study Tour to help Quakers and non-Quakers learn more about what is happening in Europe.

Recognition as a consultative body[edit]

QCEA frequently submits evidence and comments to European Union consultations. QCEA is a Member of Civil Society and Democracy in Europe Grouping of NGOs recognised by the Council of Europe[1] and is entitled to lodge complaints of violations of the European Social Charter with the European Committee of Social Rights[2]

Partnerships and Collaborations[edit]

QCEA works closely with a number of other Quaker organisations including Quaker United Nations Office,[3] Geneva, Quaker Peace and Social Witness in Britain, and the Europe and Middle East Section of FWCC and its affiliated bodies.

QCEA is one of over 30 Partner organisations in European Peacebuilding Liaison Office.[4]

QCEA is a member of The Human Rights and Democracy Network.

QCEA also provides the secretariat for the Quaker youth organisation, the European and Middle East Young Friends.[1]

Programmes[edit]

QCEA has six main programme areas:

  • Peace

QCEA's peace programme has focused on the basic premise that the Eu and the Council of Europe were conceived as peace projects and that this should remain their guiding principle in all they do. Today, this has particular application in those policies which affect the relationship with other countries and regions in the world.[5]

  • Human Rights

Quakers believe that there is that of God in everyone. Human Rights issues have therefore been a core concern for Quakers throughout their history. QCEA's work has focused on a number of distinct issues on which the Council of Europe and the EU have policy development and decision-making roles.[6]

  • Economic Justice

Quakers believe in the equality of all people. Arising from this, Quakers have long held a concern about economic justice, reconciliation, and the right sharing of world resources. Details of QCEA's work has varied over time in order to engage with the political agenda of the EU and Council of Europe institutions in order to remain relevant and be heard.[7]

  • Democratic Governance

The European Union is often criticized for its so-called lack of democratic legitimacy. Since 2001, at least, the EU has tried to address this. QCEA has engaged with a variety of aspects of the developments in the institutional make-up and decision-making processes of the EU since 2001 because they believe that active engagement with citizens is essential to a functioning democracy.[8]

  • Sustainable Energy Security

The Sustainable Energy Security programme seeks to redefine energy security for the 21st century so that it incorporates human security, fair energy distribution and genuine sustainability, and to galvanise action on sustainable energy use at all levels across Europe.[9]

  • Palestine & Israel

QCEA recognises the important role the EU has in the ongoing efforts to contribute to a lasting peace in Palestine and Israel. QCEA has therefore decided to focus par of its programme on this. Their work seeks to influence the EU and its Institutions in its approach to this conflict and the parties to this conflict.[10]

Presentations and Reports[edit]

QCEA presentations and reports that are currently available (at 15 December 2011):[11]

  • The EU and the Western Balkans Grassroots Peacebuilding and Enlargement (2009) - Available Online
  • Mainstreaming Conflict Prevention (2008) - Available Online
  • People are Party to Building Peace QCEA/EPLO publication (2008) - Available Online
  • The Right to Conscientious Objection in Europe: A review of the Current Situation (2008) - Available Online
  • Peace and Peacebuilding – Some European Perspectives (2006) - Available Online
  • Women in Prison (2004-2007) - Available Online
  • Effective Counter-Terrorism: A Critical Assessment of EU Responses (2007) - Available Online
  • The European Prison Rules – A Gender Critique (2006) - Available Online
  • The Right to Conscientious Objection in Europe: A Review of the Current Situation (2005) - Available Online
  • Working towards Economic Justice - article in The Friends Quarterly Vol.34 No.6
  • Papers from the QCEA/QPSW conference in Brussels 2004
  • Values matter - Quakers Reflect on Europe :Final report of the Spiritual Values and Citizenship Project (2003)- Available Online
  • Offenders As People: Learning from one another’s experience across Europe: Report of a conference held at Woodbrooke, Birmingham from 17–19 September 1999.
  • Biotechnology and Ethics New European Laws and Proposals by Anna Franziska Schröder (1997)
  • The Common Wealth By Ed Mayo and A Double Strategy for Alternatives to Europe's Economic Structures and Policies By Ulrich Duchrow - Keynote speeches from the QCEA-Woodbrooke conference "Sharing, not Taking", held in March 1996.
  • Between Hope and Disaster - Aspects of Neo-Fascism in Europe (1993)
  • An Essay Towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe by William Penn.

Achievements[edit]

It is notoriously difficult to identify clearly the achievements brought about by political advocacy. It is rare, indeed, when a clear link between a piece of advocacy work and a change in policy can be identified. Below are a few of the policy changes which have occurred where QCEA has made an appreciable contribution. This is not to say that others haven’t contributed to this too. The list below is also limited to those achievements where it is possible to identify concrete outcomes in terms of texts adopted, structures or funding mechanism established or action taken by institutions. Much of QCEA's work affects decision-making at a less visible level and is aimed at changing hearts and minds in the institutions over the long term.

• In 2007, QCEA published a groundbreaking report on the situation of women in prison [12] in the member states of the Council of Europe; in 2009, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a Resolution (Resolution 1663),[13] which took on board the majority of our recommendations.

• In 2008, the European Parliament adopted an own initiative report on the situation of women in prison and the impact of the imprisonment of parents on social and family life which also took on board a large number of our recommendations.[14]

• QCEA was a founder member of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office which now has 31 member organisations.[4]

• As part of this network, QCEA has contributed to a number of initiatives and work programmes and has led on several of them. As a result:

- The Instrument for Stability provides funding for peacebuilding and conflict prevention and in particular for dialogue on these between the Institutions and civil society

- There has been a process of engagement on matters of policy and on specific conflicts between civil society organizations and the European crisis management structures

- Conflict prevention and peacebuilding have been given a key place in the structures of the European External Action Service

- The Social and Environmental Standards of the European Investment Bank include reference to conflict sensitivity.

• "The Greek Government had to reply to the Council of Europe about the way it treats those doing alternative service. Why?" Because QCEA has participatory status at the Council of Europe and had the right to bring collective complaints under the Council of Europe's Social Charter. QCEA used this right to bring a successful complaint against Greece.

• "There is an anti-discrimination clause in the Amsterdam Treaty. Why?" Because QCEA, along with other non-governmental organisations in Brussels, campaigned for it.

• "The Council of Europe asked the governments of all its member states what provision they made for conscientious objection. Why?" Because QCEA raised the matter in September 1996 and the Committee of Ministers acted on QCEA's initiative. A brochure of good practice in handling conscientious objection was prepared, and distributed to all the member states in 2002.

References[edit]