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Symposium 2015

Solution for Human Dignity, Common Good and Stewardship as Values for Economies

The Challenge

A World Economic Forum (WEF) survey of 140,000 business people and policy-makers in 2009 found that 75% thought the world was not just facing an economic crisis but a values crisis as well. What, the ...

A World Economic Forum (WEF) survey of 140,000 business people and policy-makers in 2009 found that 75% thought the world was not just facing an economic crisis but a values crisis as well.

What, then, are the values that should be guiding us? Are values always culturally determined, or are there some core or absolute values that can give us direction?

Promoting the Values of Human Dignity and Common Good in the European Union

The following solution proposals help promote the three core values of human dignity (encompassing human rights and responsibilities), the common good; and stewardship (of the planet and of resources for future generations). All of the proposals promote growth of a perspective-taking among Europeans for refugees, inducing Europeans to take the plight of refugees into account within and outside the borders of the crisis countries. The underlying idea is that perspective-taking is a necessary condition for the recognition of human dignity as well as the pursuit of common good and stewardship.

Share the financial support of refugees, not their absorption, across EU member states.
Providing refuge to people fleeing persecution is a legal requirement, specified by the UN Geneva Convention on refugees. The open question is how to meet this requirement in the EU.

The proposal is that the cost of processing applications for asylum and the cost of supporting refugees should be divided equitably among EU member states, in accordance with the size of their populations and their GDPs. On account of free movement of people among Schengen countries, the absorption of refugees is decided through their own personal choices. For countries of first arrival that do not have adequate capacity for processing and assisting immigrants, these services should be provided at the EU level.

Implementing this proposal will require an expansion of the EU budget, but some of it can be met through international development budgets and emergency funds.

Create free-trade industrial zones in countries adjacent to conflict zones.
In particular, it is proposed that the EU create free-trade industrial zones in Turkey and Jordan, as well as pump-prime support for the requisite infrastructure, to employ refugees fleeing from Syria. These zones could attract global companies to produce goods and services for the European market.

Once peace is reestablished, the refugees could return to their home countries. This initiative would be welcomed by Turkey and Jordan, since it would promote business activity in their regions and improve the chances that the refugees generate new income, rather than competing for jobs with indigenous people.

Create an “@home in Europe year”
The EU should promote an “@home in Europe year,” as an option available for all children leaving school and other adult volunteers. Under this option, which is to be financed through public and private funds, each person would be required to live in another European country, among people in a different culture, religion and social class from their own, in order to work on a project that is of vital interest to all parties. People who have gone through this experience—living cooperatively and creatively among people quite different from themselves—are likely to gain a different European outlook than they otherwise would have done.

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