Merkel reignites ‘Christian constitution’ debate

Following an audience with the Pope, German Chancellor Angela Merkel revives debate about a reference to God in the future EU constitution.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told The Guardian on 29 August that she would like to see Europe’s “Christian values” prevalent in a new version of the EU constitution. Merkel said that she sees a reference to God as an “essential element” in the constitution, because Christianity's "significant influence" on European history.

In a move that is bound to reopen religious debate in the EU, the Christian Democrat chancellor has promised to revive the EU constitution in January 2007 when Germany takes the helm of the EU Presidency. Any reference to God or Christianity is expected to meet strong resistance from secular countries, such as France and the United Kingdom, as well as the Nordic countries, as was the case during debate on the issue during the Convention on the Future of Europe. (see LinksDossier).

A new 'religion' debate could also cast dark clouds over Turkey’s potential accession to the EU - the draft EU constitution (which was rejected by France and the Netherlands) at present only makes reference to “inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe”.

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