Following a heated debate in the Committee of the Region's plenary session on the draft opinion on the Enlargement Strategy 2015-2016 by Anna Magyar, Vice-President of County Council of Csongrád Megye (EPP/Hungary), the PES Group voted today against its adoption because it includes a reference to "core European values rooted in its Christian culture".
Speaking on behalf of the PES Group, Albert Bore, Member of Birmingham City Council (UK) declared: "There are European values but these are not just based upon the Christian culture. We have a wider set of cultural inheritances and Europe needs to reflect this wide diversity. Only by doing so will we create a more tolerant and harmonious Europe for all those who live in the EU Member States, and for those willing to join the European project".
The PES Group considered that no reference to any single religion should be made in a legal text of the European Union, given in particular that in many of the candidate countries the cultural inheritance is much more diverse. However, on behalf of the PES Group, Albert Bore clearly stated that the Group was in favour of the EU's enlargement process. The opinion was approved by a small majority of 105 votes against 75. The CoR's ALDE Group also voted against the opinion.
Every year, the European Commission assesses in a set of annual reports the progress made by enlargement countries towards meeting EU membership requirements. In 2015, the general annual report was replaced by a Communication on the Enlargement Strategy for the period 2014-2019. The "Enlargement Package" was adopted by the European Commisison in November 2015.