Church representatives meet the Swedish EU-Presidency
Following the now well-established tradition of Dialogue between the Churches and the rotating EU Council Presidencies, representatives of the Churches in Sweden and in Europe met this Wednesday with the Swedish EU-Presidency in Stockholm. The Swedish Minister for European Union Affairs, Ms Cecilia Malmström received the Church representatives in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The representatives of COMECE, the Church and Society Commission of CEC and Swedish Churches expressed to the Swedish EU-Presidency their deep concern as regards the impact of climate change on the future of Mankind and Creation. Taking particularly into consideration the heavy burden that climate change represents for developing countries and for future generations, they encouraged the EU to take on all its responsibilities in the upcoming negotiations in Copenhagen, in order to achieve an ambitious worldwide agreement and to promote environmental justice.
The discussions also focused on the topic of Migration. As it is currently envisaged that a future EU Commissioner should be in charge of both Migration and Security, Church representatives emphasised the need to make a distinction between the question of Migration and that of Security issues. Migrants should have their dignity respected and not be considered as a threat to the Security of the Union but as a "blessing and a grace" as any human being. In view of the forthcoming High Level Ministerial Conference "Towards Global EU Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings" the Churches also encouraged the Union to intensify its fight against any form of human trafficking and its efforts to protect victims of trafficking.
The Church representatives, in view of the negotiations on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in the UN framework, expressed their hope in the Swedish EU Presidency to broker a common and positive European response to the "option zero" proposed by US President Obama.
Referring to the draft Equality Directive currently being discussed at the Council of the EU, the Churches recalled their firm commitment against any form of discrimination. However, they expressed concern at the lack of sufficient legal clarity as regards the scope of the Directive in the areas, which remain outside of EU competence, such as education. The Churches also emphasised that any legislation ensuring equal treatment should guarantee respect for other rights and freedoms such as freedom of religion or belief and the freedom of expression. Therefore, all the consequences of the proposal should be duly taken into account before it is adopted.
Finally, the representatives also discussed the issue of the Dialogue between Churches and EU institutions. This Dialogue, which has now been a tradition for many years, will be strengthened when the Treaty of Lisbon and Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU enter into force. Both the Swedish EU Presidency and the Church representatives insisted on the necessity for this Dialogue being open to a wide range of discussion topics. It should be strengthened on the European as well as on the national level. The meeting with the Swedish Presidency is a good illustration of the Dialogue's openness. It creates a climate of confidence and is a good sign for the future of this Dialogue.
Churches in Sweden:
- Rev Karin Wiborn (Baptist Union of Sweden), Chair of the Christian Council of Sweden
- Msgr Anders Arborelius (Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockholm), Member of the Presidium of the Christian Council of Sweden
- Rev. Sven-Bernhard Fast, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Sweden
- Mr George Joseph, International Secretary at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockholm
- Mr Lennart Molin , Associate General Secretary of the Christian Council of Sweden and Director of Ecumenical Diaconia/Church-Society
- Mr Ragnar Svenserud, Europe Secretary of the Church of Sweden and Chair of the Working Group of the Christian Council of Sweden for the EU Presidency
COMECE and the Church and Society Commission of CEC:
- Fr Piotr Mazurkiewicz, Secretary General of COMECE
- Reverend Rüdiger Noll, Director of the Church and Society Commission and Associate General Secretary of CEC
 Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community - COMECE - and Conference of European Churches - CEC