EU leaders to cooperate more actively with religious organizations

Brussels, July 20 Interfax - European Union leaders state they are ready to a closer dialogue with religious organizations, especially in settling social problems.

Speaking at the meeting of the EU leaders with religious leaders held in Brussels, President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek said that they appointed vice-president of the European Parliament responsible for interaction with religious organizations.

Besides, Buzek will soon discuss concrete mechanisms of interaction with representatives of different churches and decide on setting up a special service responsible for religious dialogue.

Buzek pointed out that the Lisbon Treaty foresees in its Art 17 that the Union maintains an "open, transparent and regular dialogue" with religion, churches and communities of conviction.

"Churches and religious communities are important providers of social services in EU member states. If we want to combat poverty effectively, it is essential to draw from their long standing and wide raging experience," President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said.

Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council said Churches initiatives in social sphere should be considered. According to him, the main issue of combating poverty "is also, in essence, willing to restore human dignity, the dignity of both men and women and that is why societal, cultural and ethical questions should also be taken into account."

Acting representative of the Russian Church to European International Organizations Antony Ilyin mentioned that United Europe should became a dialogue based community, based on partnership between EU institutions and traditional religious organizations.

He put his particular attention to the importance of fighting against poverty and social exclusion in the context of EU neighborhood policy especially regarding countries which belong to the so-called Eastern Partnership and asked EU leadership to take into account Orthodox identity of those counties and their people who are spiritually linked to the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Brussels meeting was the sixth in a series of annual meetings launched by President Barroso in 2005. Over twenty senior representatives from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religions from 14 European countries participated in it. They discussed effective ways of combating poverty and social exclusion as an imperative for European governance.