European Union: Letter Campaign for the withdrawal of Article 51 of the draft EU Constitution

After being finalised and presented by the 105 Members of the European Convention on 10 July 2003, the draft EU Constitution is now in the hands of the EU Council of Ministers - including representatives of the future EU Member States.
Appeal from IPPF European Network, Catholics for a Free Choice, European Network 'Church on the move', European Humanist Federation, Right to Die in Europe and the European Association for Teaching.
Ministers will engage in further debates with a view to come to a common agreement, by the Heads of State and Government, on the draft Constitution in December 2003. We should not forget that these Ministers are all members of the national government of the EU Member States and of the Accession countries. This process is called the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) which will be launched on 4 October 2003.

With this in mind, we would like to call upon all organisations which have signed the appeal to write to the Minister of your country to express your wish to have Article 51 withdrawn from the draft Constitution.

Below you will find a model letter and a list of addresses and names of Ministers of your country. We would highly appreciate if you could send the letter to your Minister before the 4th of October, 2003.

The present campaign has also received the support of the European Region of the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA-Europe)

Draft Article 51:

Article 51: Status of churches and non-confessional organisations

1. The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.

2. The Union equally respects the status of philosophical and non-confessional organisations.

3. Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.

Article 46: The principle of participatory democracy

1. The Union Institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views in all areas of Union action.

2. The Union Institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society.

3. The Commission shall carry out broad consultations with parties concerned in order to ensure that the Union's actions are coherent and transparent.

4. No less than one million citizens coming from a significant number of Member States may invite the Commission to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Constitution. A European law shall determine the provisions for the specific procedures and conditions required for such a citizens' initiative.

We would like to thank you in advance for taking the time to send the letter for the withdrawal of Article 51.


Hon. Prime Minister
Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs

Sir/ Madam,

RE: Draft European Constitution

At this time when the draft European Constitution is being examined by the Governments of the EU Member States, we would like to call upon you to ensure that our Government adopts a position which would seek to unite all European citizens rather than adopt a divisive position which would refer to a specific religion. In this respect, the suggestion of the Convention referring to “cultural, religious and secular heritage of Europe” seem very well adapted to this purpose.

In addition, we would like to emphasise our request for the withdrawal of article 51 which would institutionalise a rights for certain religions to interfere in the decision making processes of the European Institutions in matters relating to individual rights. You will find in annex an explanatory note on the consequences of the adoption of article 51.

Yours sincerely,


Neutrality of the Institutions

Article 51 calls for religions to be guaranteed regular contacts with the European Institutions. There is no reason to provide religions (the non-religious communities are NOT asking for any privilege) a specific and privileged status which is distinct from the relationship suggested for all organisations representing civil society as established in article 46 of the draft Constitution.

But above all, we would like to emphasise that the separation of Churches and State is a cornerstone of European democracy. The neutrality of the State with regard to spiritual beliefs and commitments is the only guarantee of religious freedom and freedom of thought. No religion or religious group should be able to impose upon the whole of society its own conceptions of social life and organisation.

Church Demands

The primary objective expressed by representatives of Christian religions is the recognition that religion is a part of political discussion.

In this respect, Churches have requested the establishment of a pre-legislative consultation procedure by means of regular dialogue seminars with the advisors to the President of the Commission. They further suggest holding working sessions on specific issues in draft legislation as well as presidential-level meetings between the President of the Commission and high level representatives of the Churches. Finally, to achieve the above, these same Christian representatives would seek to establish a small liaison office within the services of the European Commission.

What is at stake?

The positions of many religions on abortion, voluntary euthanasia, divorce, family, biomedical research (embryonic, human stem cell….), equality between women and men, same-sex partnerships, contraception are all well known.

While these religions have every right to set their own expectations for the behaviour of their members, it is not acceptable that they should impose these on all people within the framework of a privileged dialogue with the European Institutions.

Along with many others, we have fought for the right for every individual to freely choose how to live their life and express their personal choices on such fundamental questions.

For these reasons, we ask to retrieve Article 51 from the main founding text of tomorrow’s European Union.


Foreign Minister
Ms Benita Ferrero Waldner
Fax: +43 1 535 50 91 (Foreign Ministry)

Permanent Representative
H.E. Gregor Woschnagg
Fax: +32 2 234 53 00/


Foreign Minister
Mr Louis Michel
Fax: +32 2 511 6385 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Minister for European Affairs
Mr Jacques Simonet
Tel:+ 32 (0)2-501.85.59
Fax:+ 32 (0)2-514.10.82
Karmelietenstraat 15
B - 1000 Brussel

Permanent Representative
H. E. Jan de Bock
Fax: +32 2 231 10 75/


Foreign Minister
Mr Solomon Passy
Fax: +359 2 703 041 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Minister for European Affairs
Ms Meglena Kuneva
Fax: +359 2 971 2906

Permanent Representative
H. E. Stanislav Daskalov
Fax: +32 2 374 91 88/


Foreign Minister
Mr Georgious Iacovou
Fax: +357 22665313 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Theophilos V. Theophilou
Fax: +32 2 735 45 52/


Foreign Minister
Dr Cyril Svoboda
Email: (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Libor Secka
Fax : +32 2 213 01 65/


Foreign Minister
Mr Per Stig Møller
Fax: +45 32 54 0533 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Poul Skytte Christoffersen
Fax: +32 2 230 93 84/


Foreign Minister
Ms Kristiina Ojuland
Phone: +372 (6) 317 092 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Priit Kolbre
Fax : +32 2 227 39 25/


Foreign Minister
Mr Erkki Tuomioja

Permanent Representative
H. E. Eikka Kosonen
Fax : +32 2 287 84 00/


Foreign Minister
Mr Dominique de Villepin
Fax: +33 1 4705 27 39 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Minister for European Affairs
Ms Noëlle Lenoir
Email :
Fax : +33 1 4317 4725

Permanent Representative
H. E. Pierre Sellal
Fax : +32 2 229 82 82/

Commissioner: Mr Michel Barnier Regional Policy and Institutional Reform
Fax : +32-2-298.15.99


Foreign Minister
Mr Joschka Fischer
Fax: +49 30 22 77 6662 (Foreign ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Dr Wilhelm Schönfelder
Fax: +32 2238 19 7/

Mr Günter Verheugen Enlargement
Tel : + 32-2-298.11.00
Fax : + 32-2-298.11.99


Foreign Minister
Mr Georges Papandreu
Fax: +30 2 10 368 1433 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Aristide Agathocles
Fax: +32 2 512 79 12/


Foreign Minister
Mr Laszlo Kovacs
Fax: +36 (1) 212 5918 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Endre Juhász
Fax: +32 2 372 07 84/


Foreign Minister
Mr Brian Cowen
Fax: +353 1 478 0593 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Minister for European Affairs
Mr Dick Roche
Fax: +353 1 619 4476

Permanent Representative
H. E. Anne Andreson
Fax : +32 2 230 30 18


Foreign Minister
Mr Franco Frattini
Fax: +39 06 67 91 131 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Minister for European Affairs
Mr Rocco Buttiglione
Tel: 06.67791

Permanent Representative
H. E. Umberto Vattani
Fax: +32 2 220 04 26/

Commissioner / President of European Commission:
Mr Romano Prodi


Foreign Minister
Mr Antanas Valionis
Fax: +37052313090 (Foreign Minsitry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Oskaras Jusys
Fax : +32 2 771 45 97/


Foreign Minister
Mme Lydie Polfer
Fax: +352 22 31 44 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Nicolas Schmit
Fax: +32 2 736 14 29/


Foreign Minister
Dr Joe Borg
Phone: +356248391 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Victor Camilleri
Fax : +32 2 343 01 06/


Foreign Minister
Mr Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Fax:070 - 3 48 48 48

Permanent Representative
H. E. Bernard Rudolf Bot
Fax: +32 2 679 17 75/

Foreign Minister
Mr Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz

Permanent Representative
H. E. Marek Grela
Fax: +32 2 777 72 97/


Foreign Minister
Dr Antonio Martins da Cruz

Permanent Representative
H. E. Alvaro de Mendonca e Moura
Fax : +32 2 231 00 26/

Commissioner: Mr Antonio Vitorino Justice and Home Affairs


Foreign Minister
Mr Mircea Geoana
Fax 230-7961
Ph: 2307570

Minister for European Affairs
Ms Hildegard Carola Puwak
Fax: 401-336.85.09

Permanent Representative
H. E. Lazar Comanescu
Fax : +32 2 344 24 79/


Foreign Minister
Mr Eduard Kukan
Ph: 00421-2-57295111
Fax: 00421-2-52497595

Minister for European Affairs
Mr Pál Csáky
SR Government
Telephone: +421 2 5729 5111
Fax: +421 2 5249 7595

Permanent Representative
H. E. Juraj Migas
Fax: +32 2 743 68 88/


Foreign Minister
Mr Dimitrij Rupel
Fax: +386 1 478 2170

Minister for European Affairs
Mr Dr Janez Potoènik
Phone: + 386 1 478 24 50,
fax: + 386 1 478 24 85

H. E. Ciril Stokelj
Fax: +32 2 512 09 97/


Foreign Minister
Ms Ana Palacio Vallelersundi
Fax: +34 91 4352425

Permanent Representative
H. E. Carlos Basterreche Sagües
Fax : +32 2 511 26 30


Foreign Minister
Mr Jan O Karlsson
State Secretary, Barbro Holmberg
Telephone: +46-8-405 10 00

Permanent Representative
H. E. Gunnar Lund
Fax : +32 2 289 56 00/


Foreign Minister
Mr Abdullah Gül
Fax: +90 312 417 0476
Email: (Foreign Ministry)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Oguz Demiralp
Fax : +32 2 511 04 50/


Foreign Minister
Mr Jack Straw (Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs)
Fax: +44 207 839 2417 (Foreign Ministry) (Government)

Permanent Representative
H. E. Sir Nigel Sheinwald
Fax: +32 2 287 83 28/