2013 is set to be an important year for both the Catholic Church, which elects a new pope, and Croatia, which will become the 28th member of the European Union (EU), writes Alex Sakalis for openDemocracy. These two entities share a long history, with the former wielding significant, yet often ignored, influence on political life in the latter.
Life in the European Union is one of continuing political negotiation. No political realist is surprised that national leaders constantly seek to protect and advance the interests of their country, says social theologian Dr Graeme Smith. The European Union is the place of permanent dialogue between different interests, and more substantially different political cultures, interestingly mirroring some different Protestant and Catholic instincts. Meanwhile, ecumenical lessons can help us to see why it's negotiation all the way, in a positive sense.
There is room for real, substantial reform to the EU budget and many other aspects of the functioning and policy of European institutions, says Simon Barrow. But to address these issues properly, Britain’s political leaders should abandon rather than feed the narrow Westminster mindset that the recent EU budget row exemplifies.