Brussels, 16 April 2019 – The European Humanist Federation deplores the adoption yesterday by the European Parliament’s Bureau of a report that aims at providing religious and non-confessional organisations privileged access to policy-makers over the rest of civil society.
This report is the result of a limited consultation by EP Vice-President Mairead McGuinness carried out with the organisations involved in the European Parliament’s dialogue with religious and non-confessional organisations under Article 17 TFEU.
As the largest umbrella of non-confessional organisations at European level, the European Humanist Federation considers this report as an endorsement of the requests made by Catholic organisations, dismissing many other claims made by other stakeholders.
Amongst the most worrisome proposals is the proposal put forward by the Vatican’s lobby in Brussels, to provide representatives of the so-called Article 17 partners privileged access to rapporteurs and shadows rapporteurs of given files. Such access would be facilitated by the Article 17 secretariat that would give access to legislative tracking tools and act in cooperation with committee secretariats.
Furthermore, the report also proposes to facilitate the access of the same organisations at national level to European Parliament liaison offices, thereby further undermining the impartiality of the institution.
The report opens up further the EU legislative process to religious groups and especially the very powerful lobby of the Vatican in Brussels. It provides them privileged access over any other expert organization to policy-makers at the very early stage when legislation is being drafted.
Yet, the European Parliament has repeatedly stood up to protect the very rights these organisations endanger, encouraging Member States and the Commission to build a safer society for women, LGBTI people and minorities.
, commented Giulio Ercolessi, President of the European Humanist Federation.
Beyond the content of the report, the EHF also condemns the method and timing of its adoption. Proposals of such a horizontal nature, baring consequences on the legislative work of the Parliament as a whole should not be adopted by the European Parliament’s Bureau at the end of a term.
We can’t accept that such an important societal question that influences the legislative work of the next Parliament is decided behind the closed doors of the Bureau of this legislature, based on a report the is the result of the very limited consultation of a handful of actors chosen at the discretion of the Vice-President.
, added Ercolessi.
The EHF will continue opposing this negative evolution and will contact the instances of the next European Parliament as soon as they are set up and make sure that the way forward is broadly and publicly debated by all the MEPs of the next Parliament.