Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Barroso accuses EU leaders of letting down Pope

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has said he is "disappointed" that EU leaders did not do more to support the Pope after his controversial remarks on Islam.

Talking to German paper Die Welt over the weekend, the commission president accused European leaders of letting the Pope Benedict XVI down, after his remarks on the prophet Mohamed in a 12 September speech led to strong outrage in the Muslim world.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"To attack the Pope because he referred to a historical document in a speech is fully unacceptable," said Mr Barroso.

"I was disappointed that there weren't more European leaders who said: of course the Pope has the right to express his views. The problem is not his remarks, but the reactions of the extremists."

Asked why European politicians had been so reluctant to support the Pope, Mr Barroso said "Perhaps because there is concern about a possible confrontation. And sometimes [there is] a sort of political correctness: that one is only being tolerant when placing the opinion of others above one's own. I am very in favour of tolerance, but we should stand up for our values."

Warning about Islamic extremists, the commission chief went on to say that "some of them are very educated people who have studied at our universities. And still, they hate our open societies, our free economies."

"If they are prepared to kill themselves for that, don't you believe they are also prepared to kill us?"

Turkish membership

Asked whether Turkish EU membership could help boost moderate Islam and curb extremism, Mr Barroso said this is a "hypothetical question."

"Turkey is currently not a member and in the short term, accession is not imminent. The EU member states have unanimously decided to open accession negotiations. This takes time, the result is open," he said.

The commission will on 8 November release a report on Turkey's membership preparations, with Mr Barroso saying the document will be "fair and objective" if Turkey has made progress to "possible membership" of the EU – notably he left the possibility of a failure of the talks open.

Centre-right members of the European Parliament last week make a last-minute attempt to insert a paragraph condemning the Muslim outcry over the Pope's speech in the parliament's own report on Turkey, to be voted on in Strasbourg on Wednesday (27 September).

But instead they decided to file an amendment to the report that welcomes the Pope's planned late November visit to Turkey.

Poland snubbed twice in EU summit fiasco

[Updated] Poland tried and failed to block EU summit conclusions shortly after failing to block Tusk’s re-election as Council chief, prompting bitter accusations.

Poland isolated in bid to remove Tusk

Poland appears increasingly isolated in Brussels as it seeks public support to unseat Donald Tusk as president of the European Council.

French candidates avoid EU debate

In their first TV debate, the main candidates for the April election only briefly discussed the country's EU policies, with far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron taking aim at each other.

News in Brief

  1. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea
  2. UK parliament in lockdown after reported attack
  3. Brussels attacks remembered with minute of silence and noise
  4. Magnitsky's lawyer injured near Moscow
  5. Trump to travel to Brussels on 25 May for Nato summit
  6. Polish defence minister accuses Tusk of treason
  7. Fillon slips in polls as new allegations emerge
  8. Brexit summit for EU-27 will be on 29 April

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Advertisements
  2. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  3. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  4. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  6. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  7. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  8. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  9. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  10. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  11. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  12. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst

Latest News

  1. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  2. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament
  3. Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum
  4. La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale
  5. EU doing well in global energy ranking
  6. Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions'
  7. French socialist woos Europe with new vision
  8. EU to Macedonia: 'Stop playing with fire'