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European Commission - Press release

The Presidents of Commission, Parliament and European Council meet representatives of philosophical and non-confessional organisations to discuss democratic rights and liberties

Brussels, 30 November 2011 - Today Commission President José Manuel Barroso received leading representatives of philosophical and non-confessional organisations at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels for a meeting which he co-chaired together with Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, and Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. Participants discussed the promotion of rights and liberties in Europe's neighbourhood and in the European Union itself.

Today's meeting "A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity: a common willingness to promote democratic rights and liberties" was the latest in a series of top-level events launched by President Barroso during his first mandate. For the second time the meeting takes place in the context of the Treaty of Lisbon which foresees that the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches and religious associations or communities and with philosophical and non-confessional organisations (Article 17 TFEU).

José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President said: "Building a future based on democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, human rights and social justice is a task and ambition of the European Union, and much still remains to be done, not only in the neighbourhood of the European Union, but in our own countries, too. I am glad to see that participants share a deep concern for the promotion of those values which are and have to remain at the core of the European project."

Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament added: "Our European Union relies on foundations that it cannot create itself. It relies on the beliefs and convictions of its citizens. It relies on organised communities of values. We need religious as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations to build and cherish our common values. We need them to build bridges to other parts of the world, especially to our neighbourhood. This is why today's dialogue is so important."

In his introductory remarks, President Van Rompuy quoted the journalist and poet Tahar Ben Jelloun: "If today these revolts can be described as 'revolutions', it is because they are first and foremost carried by claims of ethics and moral"; he emphasized the values of change, progress or rather perfection since "human rights, democracy and political secularism can not be set up overnight and we must – we, too, every day again, individually and collectively – put our work back on track."

The discussions took place in a frank and open spirit. The representatives of philosophical and non-confessional organisations welcomed the EU’s engagement to promote and protect democratic rights and liberties inside the European Union and beyond. They expressed their readiness to work side by side with the European institutions to promote democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, human rights and social justice which are indispensable in democratic societies.

Vice-President of the European Parliament László Tökes and Vice-President of the European Commission Joaquín Almunia also participated in the meeting.

More information:

List of participants: see MEMO/11/846

Read about the meeting of the three Presidents with religious leaders on 30 May 2011 IP/11/658

Read the Communication of 8 March 2011: "A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity"

Read the Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit of 29-30 September 2011.

President Barroso's website

The Commission's site about this dialogue

Contacts :

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen (+32 2 295 30 70)

Jens Mester (+32 2 296 39 73)

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