EU Council’s Presidency Hears Christian Delegation

Churches Defend Human Rights, Religious Freedom

BRUSSELS, Belgium, JULY 11, 2006 (
A delegation of Christian Churches met with the Finnish presidency on duty in the European Union to defend the importance of human rights, especially religious freedom.

A communiqué issued on Friday by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community stated that a meeting was held with Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country heads the European Union’s Council this semester, and officials from the ministries of education and labor.

The delegation was led by Archbishop Jukka Paarma of Turku, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

During the June 30 meeting, Tuomioja addressed the question of enlargement and stressed that future negotiations with all candidate countries will continue to be conducted on the basis of the Copenhagen Criteria.

Concerning negotiations with Turkey, the delegation underlined the importance of “the fulfillment of the political criteria by Turkey, especially in relation to human rights issues and religious freedom,” reported the communiqué.

Both the Finish presidency and the delegation recognized the determinative role of the social dimension for the evolution of the European project.

In this context, they stressed the need to develop a European migration policy that is people centered

The delegation also drew attention to important anthropological, political and ethical issues arising from the 7th Research Framework Program.

This program was backed in June by the European Parliament with a 50 million euro budget for the period 2007-2013, and introduced an amendment so that projects using embryonic stem cells may be financed with community funds in those countries where it is legal.

The council is the European Union’s main decision-making body.

Its rotating presidency lasts six months. Every EU country takes charge of the council’s agenda and presides over all the meetings during that period, promoting legislative and political decisions to come to agreements among the member states.

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