[b]The first-ever EU Constitution was signed in Rome[/b] on Friday (29 October), nearly half a century after the European integration process was set in motion. Heads of state and government and foreign affairs ministers of 29 European countries gathered in the Italian capital for the historic ceremony in a Renaissance palace on the city's Capitoline Hill. [img]http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/images/2004/10/29/SVETLAphoto.jpg[/img] Security members stand at the Capitol Palace in Rome, where 29 heads of state and government gathered Friday (29 October) to sign the EU Constitution. [AFP]The draft European Union's proposed constitution leaves out mention of God and Europe's Christian roots, despite strong pressure from conservatives and the Vatican, and amid fear of alienating Islamic immigrant populations, reports the Italian news agency ANSA. The constitution envisages [b]a long-term president[/b] and a foreign minister to represent the bloc on the world stage. It simplifies voting rules to accelerate decision-making and gives the EU a greater role in tackling international crime and immigration policy.The long-awaited preamble to the document used the words "spiritual", "religious" and "humanistic" to describe Europe's heritage and references traditions in Europe "nourished by the Greek and Roman civilizations," but makes no reference to the deity. "We are very glad a reference to God has been left out, it would have created unnecessary barriers in Europe," Terry Sanderson, vice president of the UK's National Secular Society, told EUobserver. "Europe has to be secular for it to be really unified." Giscard d'Estaing, a former French president and the head of the Convention on the future of Europe, the body charged to draft the constitution, earlier indicated a compromise was possible by having the preamble mention religion. There is no mention of God or religious values in the main body of the text.
Friday October 15, 2004 Rocco Buttiglione, Italian European Affairs minister, who was a nominee for the post of European Unions Justice and Home Affairs commissioner, has been rejected by the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) after he publicly testified that homosexuality is a sin and gays should not be given special rights. Mr Buttiglione, an Italian philosophy professor and a devoted Catholic, was widely expected to be confirmed in the post. However, the panel finally turned him down by a 27-26 vote. Mr Buttiglione protested that he had been the victim of prejudices against his moral and religious convictions, claiming that Left-wing MEPs had twisted his words to portray him as a homophobe and misogynist. However, Mr Buttiglione was strongly defended by José Manuel Barroso, [b]the new European commission President.[/b]The vote proved to be a stormy discussion in Italy. Mirko Tremaglia, Minister for Italians abroad, considered that by the decision the European Union had shown itself to be secularised. He said: Unfortunately, Buttiglione has lost. Poor Europe - the queers are in the majority.