European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans has asked representatives of the different European religions to actively take part in the political process ahead of European elections next year.
Timmermans hosted a meeting on Monday with eight spokespeople for religious organizations from across the EU, ranging from the Church of Greece to the Conference of European Rabbis. The imam of ‘El Fath’ mosque in Gent (Belgium), Khalid Benhaddou, who has been awarded with a Human Rights prize in his country, attended the meeting as representative of the European Muslims.
“Europe is home to people of many faiths, and every European has the right to practice his or her faith in peace and security. The European Commission will continue to stand up and speak up against any discrimination or attacks that their communities might face,” Timmermans said.
“While we may worship in different ways, our values are universal, including our commitment to democracy and equality”
The European Commission has sent a message of unity within the religious diversity which exists across the 28 countries of the European Union. Timmermans stuck for the democratic character all religions in Europe have. “While we may worship in different ways, our values are universal, including our commitment to democracy and equality.”
Participants at the meeting discussed how the EU is addressing “migration, social integration and the sustainability of our way of life”. These are the “main policy challenges Europe faces” ahead the European Parliament elections next May, according to the European Commission.
This was the 14th annual high-level meeting with religious leaders organised by the Commission. Since 2009, the dialogue with churches, religions, philosophical and non-confessional organisations is enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty (Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
The religious leaders who took part are:
- Metropolitan ATHANASIOS of Achaia, Permanent Representative of the Church of Greece to the European Union
- Imam Khalid BENHADDOU, El Fath mosque, Gent, Belgium
- Bishop Mariano CROCIATA, Bishop of Latina, First Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE)
- Rabbi Albert GUIGUI, Chief Rabbi of Brussels and Permanent Representative at Conference of European Rabbis
- Bishop Antoine HEROUARD, Auxiliary Bishop of Lille, President of the Commission on Social Affairs of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE)
- Bishop Robert INNES, Anglican Bishop in Europe
- Dr. Frank JULY, President Bishop of Wuerttemberg, Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), President of the EKD Commission on Europe
- Rev. Christian KRIEGER, President of the Reformed Protestant Church of Alsace and Lorraine, President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC)