PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN POLITICAL AUTHORITIES AND CHURCHES
VITAL FOR FUTURE OF EUROPE, SAYS EU COMMISSIONER
Press Release No. 03-42/e
24 October 2003
The draft EU Constitution and analysis of the outcome of the EU Convention on the Future of Europe, from the point of view of Churches, is the theme of the consultation organised by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in Brussels, which began on Thursday 23 October.
EU Commissioner, Anna Diamantopoulou, opened the consultation with the introductory presentation. She underlined the need for protection of the EU social dimension in the perspective of the upcoming enlargement and provisions incorporated in the draft EU Constitution. Social inclusion and the safeguarding of social rights must form part of the main features of the future Union and must not be overwhelmed by one-sided over-emphasis on economic competition. "There is a need for a new system of governance in the Union which would enable us to keep our social benefits in a sustainable manner. Civil society and the churches have to play a substantial role in it," says Commissioner Diamantopoulou. She underlined the deep challenges Europe has to face today, such as the fight against poverty and social discrimination. "It is impossible to have an effective plan to face these challenges without the partnership of the political authorities with churches and civil society."
The Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) has been actively monitoring and contributing to the discussion concerning the development of the draft EU Constitution. "On behalf of our 126 member churches from all over Europe we have advocated for a Europe based on values such as justice, peace, solidarity and participation. Together with partner organisations, we have been engaged in ensuring that the specific identity and contribution of churches and religious communities will be recognised in the new Europe" said Rev. Rüdiger Noll, Director of the Church and Society Commission of the CEC, in his presentation.
Over 60 church leaders and experts, representing Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant member churches of CEC from within and outside of the EU countries, are participating in the consultation. In addition to evaluating the Convention outcome, the consultation will concentrate on the clarification of the role churches can play in the continuing process related to the Union's Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) and to the final ratification and implementation of the adopted results.
"The EU Constitution and the enlargement process is a challenge for the churches for a number of reasons. Among the most important is the need to prepare ourselves for an open, transparent and regular dialogue with the EU Institutions and to remain involved in implementing the values we have advocated for" added Rudiger Noll.
The consultation will continue following its agenda until Saturday 25 October.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of 126 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 43 associated organisations. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.
For more information:
Dr. Peter Pavlovic, CEC Church and Society Commission
Phone +32 2 2346833 or 2301732, Fax +32 2 2311413