Monday 6. December 2021
Church Representatives meet incoming Swedish Presidency of the EU

Press Release - 29 November 2000 Representatives from the Churches and the Swedish Government met in Stockholm on Tuesday 28 November to discuss the priorities of the six-month Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, due to begin on 1 January 2001.

Mr Keith Jenkins, Director of the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), and Mgr Noël Treanor, Secretary General of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), met Ms Lena Hjelm-Wallén, the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and Swedish government officials for one and a half hours. They were accompanied by leading representatives of the Swedish Churches and the Christian Council of Sweden. The discussion focused on a series of themes identified by the Swedish Government as priorities for its six months in the EU Presidency: enlargement, global solidarity and sustainable development. Mgr Treanor and Mr Jenkins emphasised that the historic opportunity offered by the accession to the European Union of countries in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe would be lost if the Heads of State and Government of the Union failed to agree an effective and lasting reform of its institutions at the Nice Summit on 7-8 December. The Church representatives also expressed the hope that the EU's relations with the rest of the world should be guided by the principle of global solidarity. In this respect, they highlighted upcoming developments in EU Justice and Home Affairs policy, such as the drafting of a Common European Migration Policy. They urged the Swedish Presidency to take an early EU initiative to put the climate change negotiations back on course. Both CEC and COMECE intend to contribute to the preparation of a European Strategy for Sustainable Development over the coming six months. They made a proposal to the Deputy Prime Minister for a meeting with the relevant Swedish ministries on this issue. Mgr Treanor and Mr Jenkins reminded Ms Hjelm-Wallén of the commitments made by the European Union - in the framework of the Barcelona Process for Euro-Mediterranean co-operation and the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe - to support dialogue and exchange between the different religious communities in those regions. They appealed to the Swedish Government to use its Presidency to urge the Commission and the other EU member states to take action in this field, too often forgotten in favour of economic or political measures. Without this cultural and societal dimension, such initiatives for peace and stability in Europe and the surrounding regions will not engage ordinary people and will not therefore be lasting. At the meeting, a letter from the leaders of the Churches in Sweden regarding the status of Jerusalem was also handed over to Ms Hjelm-Wallén. They called upon the EU to help ensure that all the religious communities in the Holy City were permitted full access to their religious sites, and also drew attention to the fact that the continuing plight of Palestinian refugees in camps across the Middle East only served to fuel the current conflict.

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