Press Release

Delegation of European Churches meets with Swedish EU Presidency 

An ecumenical delegation representing the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) met with Swedish Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, Jakob Forssmed, on Tuesday, 30 May 2023, to discuss the implementation of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU. Read COMECE-CEC Contribution

COMECE-CEC Ecumenical delegation meeting with Swedish Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, Jakob Forssmed, in the context of the Swedish EU Presidency. The meeting took place in Stockholm on Tuesday, 30 May 2023. (Photo: Kristina Hellner/Katolska Kyrkan)

During the meeting held in Stockholm, the ecumenical delegation expressed deep concern over the horrific situation in Ukraine, conveying full support for a continued and concrete humanitarian, political and financial EU solidarity with Ukraine.

COMECE and CEC urged the Swedish government to maintain a strong focus on European unity, while valuing the diversities of all European people. The delegation also highlighted the positive role Churches and religious communities play in this regard, as actors deeply rooted in national contexts and multipliers of solidarity.

In particular, in the current context of the war in Ukraine, European Churches underlined the need to counter the instrumentalisation of religion, as well as the spread of disinformation and polarisation that can fuel further unrest and extremism in our societies and the world.

The delegation appreciated achievements in strengthening policies on climate change and the protection of environment formalised by agreements reached during the Swedish Presidency.

Concerning the European Green Deal: greater transparency, participation, joint decision-making, and public awareness among all relevant actors was highlighted as paramount. ”Green transition should be implemented without leaving anyone behind”, the ecumenical delegation highlighted.

COMECE President Mgr. Mariano Crociata speaking with Swedish Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, Jakob Forssmed, in the context of the COMECE-CEC ecumenical delegation dialogue meeting with the Swedish EU Presidency held in Stockholm on Tuesday, 30 May 2023. (Photo: Kristina Hellner/Katolska Kyrkan)

Churches also expressed their appreciation for the importance Swedish Presidency is giving to the issue of loneliness and social isolation, addressing together with the civil society actors. They appreciated the emphasis on wellbeing and mental health of European citizens.

During the meeting, COMECE and CEC also addressed the issue of sustainability and energy as key priorities. “We support efforts to meet our obligations towards future generations by lessening Europe’s vulnerability on energy resources. This – it was added – should be realised without placing a heavy financial burden on those who are already struggling with their energy bills, while preserving EU’s commitments towards the developing world”.

Churches also pleaded the EU Presidency to actively work for fair and truly humane EU migration and asylum policies, based on the principles of solidarity and responsibility, the respect for international law and the protection of human rights, rooted in the inherent dignity of every person. “The finalisation of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum should be one of the key goals to achieve in the next few months,” the COMECE-CEC delegation stated.

COMECE and CEC articulated their hope for the next EU Presidency to follow up on the Swedish government’s efforts to maintain political unity, strengthening social cohesion across Europe, and showing solidarity with those suffering the consequences of the brutal Russian war against Ukraine.

The meeting was an occasion to share with minister Jakob Forssmed the contribution of COMECE and CEC to the Swedish EU Presidency Programme. The document gathers a series of concrete policy recommendations addressing the priorities of the Swedish EU Presidency. The document is available here.

Meetings with EU Council Presidencies are part of a long-standing tradition supported by Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which foresees an open, transparent and regular dialogue between the EU and Churches, religious associations or communities.

The COMECE-CEC delegation was composed of:

  • H. E. Mgr. Mariano Crociata, President of COMECE;
  • His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia, Vice-President of CEC;
  • H. Em. Cardinal Anders Arborelius, Catholic Bishop of Stockholm, Catholic Nordic Bishops’ Conference
  • Alessandro Calcagno, COMECE Assistant General Secretary;
  • Dr. Peter Pavlovic, CEC Study Secretary;
  • Sofia Camnerin, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Sweden;
  • Dr Jan Eckerdal, Christian Council of Sweden.

Download the COMECE-CEC Contribution [EN]