Brussels, May 28 (Reuters): The EU’s proposed constitution will contain no reference to God or Christianity, despite intense lobbying by the Vatican and religious groups, according to a draft text released today.
The draft preamble, approved by the presidium steering the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe, refers only to “the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe”.
The battle over whether to refer to religion at all has pitted Christian Democrats and Europe’s churches against secularists, especially on the political Left, who were at most willing to acknowledge a spiritual tradition of shared values.
Pope John Paul II had pushed for a specific reference to Christianity in the preamble, which was written by the Convention’s head, former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, himself a practising Catholic.
Critics said this could offend the millions of Muslims as well as Jews and other religious groups living in Europe.
It could also have upset mainly Muslim Turkey, a candidate country which hopes to begin EU accession talks in 2005, they said.
The Vatican had branded as “totally unsatisfactory” an earlier draft referring only to “values... common to the member states”. The pope’s native Poland, one of 10 states set to join the EU next year, refers to God in its own constitution.
The draft preamble refers to the “civilisations of Greece and Rome” and the 18th century European Enlightenment.
“They have anchored in the life of society the perception of the central role of the human person, of his inviolable and inalienable rights and also respect for the law,” it said.
The draft constitution will be debated by the Convention and presented to EU leaders at a summit in Greece on June 20.
They will have the final say on the wording of the document.