Europarliament Rejects Reference to "Judeo-Christian" Roots

British Conservatives Join Opposition to Proposal

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STRASBOURG, France, SEPT. 25, 2003 ( The European Parliament’s plenary assembly rejected any reference to the continent’s «Judeo-Christian» roots in the draft text of the European Constitution.

The proposal was rejected Wednesday by a vote of 283 to 211. The vote sought to clarify Parliament’s position in view of next week’s intergovernmental conference in Rome that will approve the draft of the Constitution.

The proposal in Parliament was presented by the European Popular Party (EPP), which called for a «particular reference» in the text to the «Judeo-Christian» roots of Europe, without proposing a specific formulation of the request.

Another amendment presented by the European Union of Nations (EUN), which called for the «express recognition of the legacy of Christianity inscribed in the history and cultural identity of Europe,» met with the same result.

Although the EPP has a majority in the European Parliament, it did not obtain the consensus of the majority. It had the support of the EUN, but even within the EPP, members such as the British Conservatives and others, did not support it.

Those voting against the proposal included the European Socialist Party and other minority groups, as well as 30 independent deputies.

«We knew that these were the numbers, but we could not exempt ourselves from the responsibility to present forcefully the position in which we firmly believe,» EPP spokeswoman Katrin Ruhrmann said.

EPP President Hans-Gert Pöttering lamented the rejection of the amendment, but explained that the preamble of the draft Constitution presented by the European Convention makes reference to the continent’s religious patrimony. And Article 51 of the draft recognizes the status of churches and communities which share a common faith, he said.

Ruhrmann said that the last word now rests with the governments of the European Union. «If they wish, they have the possibility to modify the draft Constitution in the sense we desire,» she said.

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