Institutional Affairs

Constitution remains God-less

13.06.04 @ 17:26

  1. By Honor Mahony
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BRUSSELS - The European Constitution will remain without a reference to Christianity, under new proposals by the Irish EU Presidency.

In a paper dealing with eleventh-hour issues circulated to governments on Sunday (12 June), Dublin moderates the lengthy preamble to the Constitution but does not add any reference to God or Christianity.

The preamble keeps the wording "drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe".

Dublin's decision follows strong pressure from Belgium, in particularly, but also France to keep the text free from any specific religious references.

Both countries are lay states and argued that a separate article in the Constitution anchoring the status and role of churches is enough.

But it will be a blow for countries such as Poland and Italy, who along with five other member states, recently sent a letter to the Presidency on issue.

"This issue remains a priority for our Governments, but also for many representatives of the European Parliament and of National Parliaments, as well as for millions of European citizens", said the letter sent last month.

Referring to the paper, an Irish diplomat said "we don't believe it will be possible to get a consensus on the issue; that is why we haven't proposed anything".

However, the diplomat did not rule out that the issue will be left to EU leaders to deal with at the end of the week.

No philosophising

The Irish have also cut down the wordy preamble to the Constitution drawn up alone by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the architect of the treaty.

The quote by Greek philosopher Thucydides, which Mr Giscard inserted at the beginning of preamble, has been unceremoniously dropped as has the wordy first paragraph on Europe bringing forth civilisation.

However, they stopped far short of a Finnish proposal - made last year - to scrap the whole thing, and most of it remains.

"He [Mr Giscard] should still be happy that 90% of his magnum opus remains", remarked an EU diplomat dryly.

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