European Commission ‘Forgot’ Christian Feasts in an Official European Diary

EDW
January 25, 2011

In a 28 Million Euro project, the European Commission has ordered the creation of a European Diary which contains a wide range of information about the European Union. The young target group of the diary can learn about the functioning of the EU, environmental questions, individual rights of citizens, health, safety and anti-discrimination. Whereas Moslem, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu feast days are part of the calendar, no Christian feast is mentioned. Instead of Christmas there is an empty space on the 25th of December.

Apparently, the ‘Generation Europe Foundation’ that was mandated to elaborate the diary by the European Commission judged it superfluous to mention the great feasts that still mean something to the majority of Europeans: Christmas, Easter, Pentecost to name only the most important ones. Over 3 million copies have been distributed to secondary schools in all member states.

The responsible commissioner for the European Diary is Mr. John Dalli (Health and Consumer Policy) has been alerted by several NGOs and politicians and has immediately promised to take corrective action. The decision to create the European Diary and the assignment to the Generation Europe Foundation had been taken before Commissioner John Dalli took office in 2009. John Dalli himself is a catholic Maltese.

After strong protest that came especially from Italy, Poland and France, the European Commission has taken immediate remedial action to rectify the omission of certain Christian religious holidays from the Europa Diary 2010/2011. Commission’s President José Manuel Barroso explained in a letter to the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, who had requested clarification, that a one-page addendum, which includes the main public and religious holidays in each member state, was being produced and, together with an explanatory letter, would be send to all schools that had requested the Diary.

The official explanation for the omission of Christian feast days was that they are commonly known in Europe whereas students needed to be educated about other faiths celebrations and religious minorities.

Italian MEP Roberta Angelilli has prepared a written question to the Commission with the title: “Publication of the EU’s official diary for young people: violation of the principle of freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. She is currently collecting signatures of support from her colleagues at the European Parliament and, according to an email she sent out to them, there is ‘huge number’ who is willing to sign.