Thursday

23rd May 2019

Lisbon Treaty strengthens role of religion says EU

  • A number of religious and pro-life groups in Ireland are concerned that the Lisbon Treaty could allow abortion in "through the backdoor" (Photo: EUobserver)

Securing a stronger consultative role for European religions in EU policy making is another good reason to support the Lisbon Treaty, say two of the EU's most senior officials.

Speaking after a meeting with European religious leaders on Monday (11 May), European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said such discussions in the future could not be guaranteed without the full ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Mr Pottering said the annual inter-religious dialogue between European religious leaders and the EU institutions - formalised in 2005 - were carried out on the "basis of good will" rather than because of a legal obligation.

"If the Lisbon Treaty is not ratified, with the new leaderships in the commission and the parliament, they could abolish this dialogue because legally it's not binding," he said.

He added that it is the "responsibility of Ireland" to ensure the treaty comes into effect.

The Irish government is set to hold a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty this autumn, following an initial rejection by a majority of Irish voters last June.

However, the document is also facing several legal challenges in Mr Pottering's home country of Germany and awaits presidential signatures in the Czech Republic and Poland.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who co-chaired the meeting with Mr Poettering, told journalists the Lisbon Treaty would also re-inforce dialogue between non-confessional organisations.

"One of the purposes of these meetings is to highlight how it is important in Europe to keep freedom of religion [and] also the freedom not to have a religion," he said.

The Church and Lisbon

"[The Lisbon Treaty] is the first time ever that our churches and our religious communities are included in the law of the European union," Mr Pottering said.

However, the EU's secularism, in particular politically unwillingness to include a reference to the Christian god in the Constitutional Treaty's preamble, was one reason given for conservative Christian groups' opposition to the Lisbon Treaty during the country's referendum on the document last June.

The Lisbon Treaty is a rewritten version of the Constitutional Treaty rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005, containing many of the main proposals but doing away with reference to European symbols such as a European flag and anthem.

Also attending Monday's meeting was the Catholic archbishop for Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

Mr Martin has increasingly voiced his support for the Lisbon treaty in recent months ahead of a second Irish referendum on the document this autumn.

"Ireland needs Europe but also Europe needs Ireland," he says. "Europe needs the diversity of its smaller nations and different cultures."

Mr Martin referred to the lack of understanding by Irish citizens ahead of the last year's referendum, adding that current debate was helping to provide "greater clarity ... on a number of issues that were of concern to the Irish electorate."

One issue of concern to Irish religious groups is the possibility that Ireland could be forced to accept abortion under European law if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified.

Abortion is not currently allowed under Irish legislation, a situation that has prompted three of its citizens to take legal cases to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Czech Republic, currently chairing the EU's six-month rotating presidency, is currently drafting three legal guarantees for the Irish government that would help ensure its sovereignty in the areas of taxation, defence and such social affairs in return for accepting the Treaty.

Doubts remain however over the genunine effectiveness of the three legal protocols that are likely to be introduced via an EU accession treaty, most probably that of Croatia.

A number of EU member states are also concerned that any Irish legal guarantees could result in the Lisbon ratification process being re-opened in their countries.

EU parliament backs whistleblower law

MEPs backed an EU law to protect whistleblowers from retaliation in both the public and private sectors. EU states will have two years to transpose the directive.

EU commission to map gender recognition

The European Commission will start looking at how EU states determine genders - as part of an effort to make it easier for people to determine their own identities.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us