The European Constitution will remain without a reference to Christianity, under new proposals by the Irish EU Presidency. Parts of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's lengthy preamble have also been given the chop.
In a paper dealing with eleventh-hour issues circulated to governments on Sunday. Dublin moderates the lengthy preamble to the Constitution but does not add any reference to God or Christianity. The preamble keeps the wording "drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe". Dublin's decision follows strong pressure from Belgium, in particularly, but also France to keep the text free from any specific religious references. Both countries are lay states and argue that a separate article in the Constitution anchoring the status and role of churches is enough. But it will be a blow for countries such as Poland and Italy, who along with five other member states, recently sent a letter to the Presidency on issue. "This issue remains a priority for our Governments, but also for many representatives of the European Parliament and of National Parliaments, as well as for millions of European citizens", the letter said last month. Referring to the paper, an Irish diplomat said "we don't believe it will be possible to get a consensus on the issue; that is why we haven't proposed anything". However, the diplomat did not rule out that the issue will be left to EU leaders to deal with at the end of the week. (EUobserver.com)