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Press Release, 29/01/2021


Churches-EU Dialogue: Ecumenical delegation meets with Portuguese EU Presidency


An ecumenical delegation of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) participated in an online meeting on 28 January 2021 with Mr Nuno Brito, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the European Union, exchanging on the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.



An important topic of discussion was the participation of Churches in the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe. The delegation also emphasised the importance of maintaining a constructive dialogue and interaction with the EU Presidencies, in line with the Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), as has been done in the past.


It was also stressed that the Churches, alongside other stakeholders, are able to provide significant inputs for an institutional structure that wants to serve better the Common Good, reducing the distance between the EU institutions and the citizens and promoting dialogue and policies centered on persons, families and communities.


Ambassador Brito highlighted that “Churches in Europe play an important role in reminding our societies that Europe is based on the centrality of the human dignity and that we should not be afraid of our neighbours”.


During the meeting, the delegation also presented a joint contribution comprising of reflections, proposals and policy recommendations, addressing pressing priorities for the Portuguese EU Presidency.


The delegation of European Churches, especially in the context of the challenging COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted the need for the Portuguese Presidency to promote European recovery enhanced by the green and digital transitions, to deliver the EU’s Social Pillar as a key element in ensuring a fair, inclusive, green and digital transition and to strengthen the strategic autonomy of a Europe open to the world. Churches urged the Presidency to promote dialogue and the unity of the EU Member States so as to reinvigorate hope, trust and credibility.


“Our common European values – respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, solidarity, equality and the rule of law – need to be continuously strengthened in order to reaffirm our commitment to the vision of the European Union as a true community of values that contributes to the shared and sustainable future of the world”, the delegation shared with Ambassador Brito.


COMECE and CEC also welcomed the ambitious, forward-looking and value-oriented Programme of the Portuguese EU Presidency and its commitment to strengthen Europe’s resilience and people’s confidence in the European social model by promoting a Union based on solidarity, convergence and cohesion, especially “the coordinated approach towards climate change, digital transition and social welfare designed to promote a free, environmentally responsible, socially strong, sustainable and healthy way of life in the context of the recovery”.


Meetings with rotating EU Council Presidencies are part of a long-standing tradition supported by Article 17 TFEU, which foresees an open, transparent and regular dialogue between the EU institutions and Churches and religious associations or communities.

The meeting was held by video conference due to the sanitary measures enacted to face the Covid-19 pandemic. The EU Churches’ delegation was composed of:

  • Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, General Secretary of COMECE;
  • Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, General Secretary of CEC;
  • José-Luis Bazán, COMECE Legal advisor for Migration and Asylum and Religious Freedom.


Joint contribution

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