Commentators are generally agreed that negotiations for the accession of the Vatican City to the European Union are not going well.
The insistence of M. Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator, that the Pope must, in all matters, be subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice was greeted with shock and horror in Rome.
Said Cardinal Parolin: ‘No Vatican Secretary of State could agree to such a demand.’ The Pope, he said, is sovereign with rights and privileges dating back to Jesus Christ himself.
The alternative, suggested M Barnier, was a hard border between the Vatican State and the Italian Republic, involving customs check-points and passport controls around St Peter’s Square itself.
Further points at issue include euthanasia, contraception and transgender issues. ‘We in the EU are looking to Pope Francis, whom we had previously supposed to be generally in favour of forward-looking policies, to be able to offer a pragmatic solution to these intractable problems. The twenty-seven countries are seeking an amicable solution which will allow the rights of European citizens to be respected in the Vatican as elsewhere. Until these issues are resolved we cannot move on to the tricky matter of the regulation of the Vatican Bank.’
The talks in Amsterdam continue over the weekend, beginning with a working Lenten lunch on Friday.