Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

References to God and the Christian Tradition in the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe: An Examination of the Background

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

References to God and the Christian Tradition in the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe: An Examination of the Background

Article excerpt

The paper offers a survey of the debate on the introduction, in the Preamble of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, of references to God and Europe's Christian tradition. It examines the question of European identity and values which motivates these proposals in relation to (1) the nature of the EU as an essentially political construction; (2) the issue of human rights in the EU; (3) the protection of cultural and religious diversity within the EU. The study shows that the confessionalization of Europe promoted by strong churches on the Continent, which are legitimate actors of civil society, betray a failure to understand the logic of the European construction. To the extent to which they represent an attempt to secure a privileged position with respect to other religious or non-religious actors, they run against the functional principles and values of the Union.

Key Words:

Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe; Treaty of Lisbon; European Convention; unity in diversity; Christian tradition; God; human rights; cultural diversity.

The requests to insert a reference to God and Europe's Christian tradition in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe

References to the identity and values of the European construction have been made in all treaties of the European Communities and, subsequently, of the European Union. The standard conception is worded in Art. 6 of the Treaty on European Union, which states that the EU is founded "on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law". In other words, European values are political values. If there is a serious breach of these values by a member state, a decision on suspending its membership rights may be made. The cultures of the European peoples represent the background against which the EU functions as a political construction. The principle of "unity in diversity", which is the motto widely recognized as describing the idea of the Union, promotes both the diversity of its cultures and the common cultural heritage (see Art. 151 of the Treaty establishing the European Community).

The EU enlargement process and, particularly, the preparation and elaboration of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (also known as the European Constitution) generated diverging interpretations with respect to the question of European values. Gradually, the debates on the subject became more radical. There was also sufficient time to involve actors outside the European institutions: the elaboration of the Constitution started as a new debate on the future of Europe through the decision at the Laeken European Council in December 2001, while the final draft of the Constitution was presented in June 2004. The external pressure, along with other factors, led to a genuine political battle within the EU with respect to the inclusion in the Constitution's Preamble of specific cultural values. Furthermore, the failure of the ratification of the European Constitution - signed in October 2004 by representatives of the then 25 member states of the European Union, and rejected by French and Dutch voters in May and June 2005 - left open the issue of the reference to cultural values in the EU's basic law. Eventually, the European Council meeting of June 2007 decided to start negotiations on what became the Treaty of Lisbon (or Reform Treaty and, more recently, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), designed to amend the Treaty of European Union (Maastricht) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (Rome). Signed on 13 December 2007 in the Portuguese capital, the treaty has not yet been ratified by all EU member states. This offers another opportunity to continue the debates on the values which the Union is grounded upon.

This study deals exclusively with the question of including in the European Constitution a reference to Europe's Christian tradition. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.