COMECE Secretariat welcomes the outcome of the Summit
The COMECE Secretariat welcomes the fact that the Heads of State and Government have agreed to give a clear mandate to an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to proceed towards an institutional reform of the EU.
We salute the success of the European Council in its effort to resolve the institutional crisis. We congratulate the German Presidency and Chancellor Angela Merkel on this hard-won outcome.
The mandate for the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference stipulates that the “Reform Treaty” to be drafted will amend the existing Treaties. The Treaty on the European Union (TUE), which will keep its present name and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) which will be called Treaty on the Functioning of the Union will continue to exist and will have the same legal value. The first treaty dates from 1992 in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall which put an end to Europe’s division. The latter treaty was concluded fifty years ago in the shadow of the devastating Second World War. Together they will therefore symbolise that maintaining peace and strengthening unity remain the principal driving forces for European integration in the face of new challenges arising from globalisation, climate change and demographic decline, inter alia.
We note that the paragraph of the Preamble of the Constitutional Treaty, to be transferred into the Preamble of the EU Treaty, refers to Europe’s cultural, religious and humanistic inheritance. We welcome this. We reiterate however our firm opinion that it would be better for Europe to have an explicit recognition in the Preamble of the Treaty that Christianity has and continues to shape its cultural and religious heritage, though not to the exclusion of other religious traditions.
We note with satisfaction that the Constitutional Treaty’s article on the values of the Union will be inserted in the EU Treaty. It places respect for human dignity in the first place.
We welcome the fact that the article on the status of Churches and religious communities will be inserted into the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union. This article not only anchors formal dialogue between the EU institutions and Churches in the Treaties, but also recognises their specific contribution and firmly ensures that the Union respects and does not prejudice the status of Churches under national law.
In matters of family law with cross border implications we note with satisfaction that the position of national parliaments has been strengthened. The overall strengthening of the role of national parliaments in the decision-making process will enhance the principle of subsidiarity in the Union. Moreover the mandate given to the IGC will further concretise the principle of solidarity among member states in regard to areas such as energy and natural catastrophes. It is to be hoped that solidarity with citizens and the social dimension of the Union will be further promoted.
It is to be hoped that the intergovernmental conference will be able to finish its work by the end of this year, as foreseen. Considering the time needed for ratification, completion of the IGC’s work by December 2007 would enable European citizens to have a clear vision of the nature and goals of the European Union when electing a new European Parliament in June 2009.
COMECE will follow the proceedings of the IGC with great interest and take part in the attendant debates not least through the consultation process recommended by the European Parliament.