Italy Eyes a Compromise for Euro Text

ROME, NOV. 26, 2003 ( Italy will propose to the European Union’s member countries the inclusion of a reference to both Christianity and laicism in the future EU Constitution.

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The text, which will serve as a draft for the meeting of European Foreign Affairs Ministers, to be held in Naples this Friday and Saturday, does not give a precise formulation of the proposal.

The Italian proposal, reported by Agence France-Presse, explains that «the presidency appreciates that it is an important question for several delegations.» Italy currently holds the EU presidency.

«A proposal will be presented on the topic at a later stage, making reference not only to Europe’s Christian heritage, but also to the secular nature of the institutions of EU member states,» that is, the principle of laicism, the Italian presidency indicated.

At least eight countries — Spain, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — of the 25 that will make up the European Union beginning next May are calling for the introduction of a reference to Christianity in the preamble of the future Constitution.

The Pope has voiced his support for this proposal repeatedly. France and Belgium have rejected the proposal.

The EU Italian presidency hopes to reach a final agreement on the Constitutional Treaty during the Dec. 12-13 summit in Brussels.

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