This year's Benjamin Tonna Lecture organised by DISCERN - Institute for Research on the Signs of the Times - will be held on Monday, April 4, at 7 p.m. at the Corinthia San Gorg Hotel, St Julian's.

The theme of the lecture - to be delivered by Vera Negri Zamagni, chair Professor of Economic History at the University of Bologna - is "A Christian looks at the EU's Social Dimension".

Professor Negri Zamagni read history and philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan, and for a Ph.D. in economic history at the University of Oxford.

This theme is of special interest to all members of the Union. The 1993 Maastricht Treaty, which transformed the European Community into the European Union (EU, has a number of important clauses relating to Social Dialogue: a greater emphasis upon reaching European "'collective agreements" as a prelude to introducing new laws).

But directives would still not cover such matters as pay, the rights of association, to strike or to impose lock outs; the terms for the application of regional and social funds to become more flexible and the creation of a genuine set of EU citizenship rules and rights.

This should mean more than just a bright new passport. The Amsterdam Treaty incorporated the 'social protocol' within the main body of the treaty and included a number of amendments setting out the next steps in the EU's equal opportunities agenda. The constitutional treaty will finally give full legal status to the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Professor Negri Zamagni will give a personal critique from a Christian perspective of the Union's social dimension which will definitely be relevant to a Maltese audience.

The public is invited to the lecture.

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