Press Release: Churches meet with Italian EU Presidency

19 December, 2014

Press Release No. 14/42
19 December 2014

In the closing days of the Italian EU Presidency, Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentilioni met with a joint delegation of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) on 18 December in Rome. Delegates present at the meeting urged the presidency for concrete action on youth unemployment, migration, and freedom of religion and belief.

The minister opened with the employment dossier; the delegation highlighted the constellation of social problems associated with youth unemployment, including overall working conditions and quality of work. The delegates asserted that a shared weekly day of rest, among the other practical measures they recommended, would contribute to improving this situation.

Deep concern was expressed for the treatment of migrants arriving in Europe via the Mediterranean and for their overall wellbeing. Crucially, Minister Gentilioni agreed with the delegation’s suggestion that search and rescue operations in this region must be an overall European responsibility. Finally, on the matter of freedom of religion and belief, the minister's attention was drawn to difficulties encountered by minority churches in Italy, often composed largely of migrants.

Minister Gentilioni assured the delegation that their concerns would be taken up in the priorities of the incoming Latvian Presidency in the first semester of 2015.

The meeting took place within the framework of Article 17 of the EU Treaty establishing a regular dialogue between churches and the EU.

Delegation Members:

Bishop Gianni Ambrosio, Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio, Vice President of COMECE
Rev. Luca Baratto, Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy
Alessandro Calcagno, Legal advisor for Fundamental Rights
Father Patrick Daly, General Secretary, COMECE
Rev. Frank-Dieter Fischbach, Executive Secretary, CEC
Rev. Dr. Guy Liagre, General Secretary, CEC
Ms. Doris Peschke, General Secretary, CCME

For more information or an interview, please contact:

Erin Green
Communication Coordinator
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174
B-1000 Bruxelles
Tel. +32 2 234 68 42
Fax +32 2 231 14 13
E-mail :

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.

COMECE is the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, and comprises 26 Bishops representing all Member States of the EU. For more than thirty years now, COMECE has been accompanying the process of European integration, and offering its reflections. COMECE is now a partner of the EU institutions in the dialogue foreseen by Article 17 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
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