Wilfried Martens wil verwijzing naar God bij een gewijzigde EU-grondwet (en)
Auteur: | By Lucia Kubosova
EUOBSERVER / ROME - The president of the centre-right European People's Party, Wilfried Martens, has suggested a reference to "God" should find its way to the EU constitution if the document were to be revised.
The centre-right party opened its "study days" in Rome with a debate on European values in as part of an overall discussion on the future of Europe - a central topic of the party's congress starting on Thursday (30 March).
Common values also feature on the party's draft Rome manifesto which lists "dignity of the human person, freedom and responsibility, fundamental equality, justice, subsidiarity and solidarity" as a set of core Europe's principles.
But in a debate on Wednesday, several speakers made specific reference to the Christian roots of the continent and its cultural heritage.
Mr Martens, who is set to be re-elected as head of the EPP on Friday, bemoaned the fact that there is "not a single reference to God" in the constitution, adding "We can't accept this to be the case indefinitely."
"We should re-launch our efforts to get God back into the constitution," he said.
Whether or not to have a reference to God in the EU charter was one of the most hotly disputed issues in the European convention, the body that drafted the constitution.
It later became equally disputed when member states turned their attention to finalising the document.
At the moment, the preamble to the constitution, where any reference to God would be put, only makes reference Europe's religious heritage in general terms.
"Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, the values of which, still present in its heritage, have embedded within the life of society the central role of the human person and his or her inviolable and inalienable rights, and respect for law", it states.
Opponents of including a reference to God in the constitution argue it could prove controversial in view of Turkey's potential membership in the EU but also due to the strict separation of state and church in some countries, such as France.
But there appears to be little appetite for revising the constitution, which has been on ice since mid last year after French and Dutch voters rejected it in a referendum.
Jose Maria Aznar, Spain's centre-right former prime minister, argued at the Wednesday discussion that the union should avoid resuming a lengthy debate on the constitution, stressing that "another institutional debate is not a proper priority for us."