23rd Mar 2023

IGC to carry on Christianity debate

  • Italy, Spain, Malta, Poland and Slovakia are expected to continue the fight for an explicit reference to Christianity (Photo: EUobserver)

The wording of the preamble for the EU's Constitution, has been already changed twice, and is still causing hot debate among several members of the European Convention - mainly due to the question of religion.

Subject to heavy lobbying - particularly by the biggest political family, the EPP - the Convention president surprised almost everyone by adjusting the preamble so that it speaks of the cultural, religious and humanist heritage of Europe as "values always present in its heritage".

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This is still not enough for those who want an explicit reference to Christianity or the Deity.

However Convention president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has come some way to meeting his critics. When he first unveiled the preamble - penned by his own hand - several rejected the references to Greece, Rome and the Enlightenment.

This week Polish delegates in the Convention, both right and left wing, joined forces in an amendment that points out the Judaic and Latin roots of Europe. "Drawing inspiration from the cultural, Christian-Judaic and humanist inheritance of Europe (…), says the proposed text put forward to the President of the Convention on Thursday evening.

Italy, Spain, Malta and Slovakia are considered as possible allies in the fight for explicit reference to Christian roots of Europe.

"Christianity has a tremendous influence on what is Europe today", Polish Christian democrat senator Edmund Wittbrodt who initiated the amendment believes.

However, the proposal backed by representatives from 15 European states is not likely to be considered at all by the Convention's steering committee.

Some still believe that the issue can go to the autumn Intergovernmental Conference - where member states will battle out the final terms of the treaty.

"I am sure Poland will support the Italian government on this matter", the Italian representative, Gianfranco Fini told EUobserver. The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs finds the current wording "a low level compromise".

On the other hand a representative of the French government, made it clear that the current shape of the preamble is a "maximum compromise" for Paris who is usually first among those who protect the "secular" face of the EU.

In a separate action, over 250 euro-MPs backed an appeal calling for assurance that "no direct or indirect reference to any specific religion or belief is included in the future European Convention".

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