Website accessibility
Show or hide the menu bar

Clerics demand input in EU laws: text from the CEC and COMECE (2002)

This unpublished document is a bid to circumvent the democratic process by giving clerics of various denominations the right to be involved in the planning stages of EU legislation. It is a joint statement by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Roman Catholic Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

Dialogue between the churches and the European Commission:
proposals for strengthening and deepening current practice

June, 2002

Earlier in this year 2002, the offices of the Churches and religious communities in Brussels were asked to submit proposals by the month of June for a structured dialogue between Churches, religious communities and the European Commission. After thorough reflection, the Church and Society commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Secretariat of the Commission of the [Roman Catholic] Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) should like to submit the following proposal.

Religion is a part of political discussion. It has helped to shape political ideas and values. ln its contribution to the European Convention, for example, the European Commission recognised the dialogue between civilisations, cultures and religions as a necessary element of modern foreign policy. The dialogue with and between different religious traditions is essential in any debate about values in political governance. Such a dialogue does not and should not in any way undermine the necessary and appropriate separation between religion and political authority.

In the light of the current debates and based on the existing informal dialogue mentioned above, we should like to submit a number of administrative proposals, which would give flesh to possible future constitutional provisions concerning the dialogue with Churches and religious communities.

  1. The European Commission should set up a pre-legislative consultation procedure, enabling Churches and religious communities - along with other organisations in civil society - to comment on planned legislation. Such a consultation would provide for a transparent procedure for consultation and any comments and observations could be documented. As such, it would also offer an opportunity to bring the Union closer to its citizens. The consultation procedure proposed by the European Commission in its communication of 5 June 2002 is a valuable step in this direction. The Church offices intend to contribute to the consultation process.
  2. The structured dialogue between the Churches and the European Commission should be continued and developed. It should contain:
    a) regular Dialogue Seminars between COMECE, the Church and Society Commission of CEC and the Group of Policy Advisers to the President of the Commission;
    b) Working sessions on more specific issues whenever Churches and religious communities have a particular concern about or interest in draft legislation;
    c) Presidential-level meetings between the President of the European Commission and high level representatives of the Churches.
  3. A small "liaison office" within the services of the European Commission, facilitating contacts between the Commission services and Churches and religious communities. Until now, the "dialogue with religions and humanisms" has been supported by a department within the Group of Policy advisers to the President of the Commission. This small unit has provided a valuable service in many ways. However, due to its limited capacity, it is not able to address the manifold dimensions of this dialogue or to carry out the plurality of functions such an office could fulfil.

    The purpose of such an office within the services of the European Commission should be to facilitate the consultation of Churches and religious communities on planned legislation, to make use of the forward thinking that religions can offer with regards to policy-making, and to provide a reference point through which the Churches and religious communities can contact the relevant services of the Commission. It would also be able to recommend which services Churches and religious communities should contact at the National level in areas for which there is no Community competence. The office would have to take into account the different capacities of different religious communities to operate and communicate with the European institutions. The office would ideally be located in a horizontal service of the Commission, e.g. in the Secretariat General, thus ensuring that it would be informed about any legislative and political initiatives to which Churches and religious communities might have a contribution to make.

Finally, we should like to emphasise the importance of the current constitutional debate on the future of Europe in the European Convention for the relationship between Churches, religious communities and the European institutions. As the Churches have recommended in their contributions to the European Convention, the future treaty should not only ensure religious freedom in its individual, collective and institutional dimensions, but also provide a framework for a structured dialogue. The aim of this submission is to propose the elements that would fill out the framework that a future treaty may provide.

We hope that these suggestions may help to structure the dialogue which the Church offices and the European Commission have fostered and developed over the years.

Brussels, June 2002


Previous article: Next article: Catholic bishops demand still more: text from COMECE (2007)
More details

Go to Notanant menuWebsite accessibility

Access level: public

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies: OK