BETA


2013/2082(INI) European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the draft EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief

Progress: Procedure completed

RoleCommitteeRapporteurShadows
Lead AFET ANDRIKIENĖ Laima Liucija (icon: PPE PPE) HOWITT Richard (icon: S&D S&D), DONSKIS Leonidas (icon: ALDE ALDE), BICEP Jean-Jacob (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE), TANNOCK Timothy Charles Ayrton (icon: ECR ECR), BELDER Bas (icon: EFD EFD)
Lead committee dossier:
Legal Basis:
RoP 134o

Events

2013/06/13
   EP - Results of vote in Parliament
2013/06/13
   EP - Committee referral announced in Parliament
2013/06/13
   EP - Decision by Parliament
Details

The European Parliament adopted by 372 votes to 213, with 26 abstentions, a resolution containing a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the draft EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The resolution recalls that the right to freedom of religion or belief, including theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, the right not to believe and the right to change one’s religion or belief, is a universal human right and a fundamental freedom of each human being.

The European Parliament has repeatedly called for an ambitious toolkit to advance the right to freedom of religion or belief as part of EU external policy . Therefore, in this context, it has welcomed the EU’s commitment to developing guidelines on freedom of religion or belief in accordance with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, and has stressed the need for Parliament and civil society organisations to be involved in the preparation of these guidelines.

Parliament addresses the following recommendations to the Council:

Reason for action : violence, persecution and discrimination against people belonging to religious communities and minorities, or against people who hold non-religious beliefs, persist in many parts of the world. The lack of religious tolerance and openness to dialogue and the lack of ecumenical coexistence often lead to political unrest, violence and open armed conflicts, endangering lives and undermining regional stability. Clear and prompt condemnation by the European Union of all forms of violence and discrimination should be a basic element of EU policy in the area of freedom of religion or belief . Particular attention should be paid to the situation of those who change their religion or belief, as in practice they are subject in a number of countries to social pressure, intimidation or outright violence.

Purpose and scope : the purpose and scope of the EU Guidelines should be to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief in third countries, to mainstream freedom of religion or belief in all the EU’s external actions and human rights policies and to develop clear benchmarks, criteria, standards and a practical orientation in order to enhance the promotion of freedom of religion or belief in the work of officials from the EU institutions and Member States, and thus contribute to more coherence, effectiveness and visibility on the part of the EU in its external relations.

Definitions : the Guidelines should offer clarity in the definitions used. Clear definitions are also required as regards the recognition of the legal personality of religious and belief-based institutions and respect for their autonomy, the right to religious education of children, the right to conscientious objection of military service, the right to asylum, the right to observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies and the fundamental right to protection of one’s property. The Guidelines should also apply to t he right to believe or not to believe as well as the ri ght of parents to educate their children according to their moral convictions – i.e. religious or non-religious .

Proportionality : as the draft Guidelines state, in accordance with the principles accepted by the international community, the freedom from coercion to have or to adopt a religion or belief and the liberty of parents and guardians to ensure religious and moral education cannot be restricted. Any other manifestation of the right to freedom of religion or belief may be subject only to ‘such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others’. These limitations must be strictly interpreted, directly related and proportionate with regard to the protected rights of others and the right balance must be achieved.

Freedom of expression : the EU should bear in mind that modern media tools allow for a greater degree of interconnectedness between cultures and faiths. Therefore, steps need to be taken to avoid intercultural violence as a reaction to acts of freedom of expression related to criticism. In this context, the EU should help in reducing such tensions, for example by promoting mutual understanding and dialogue, and condemn unequivocally any act of violence committed in reaction to such speech, and it should firmly oppose any attempt to criminalise freedom of speech in relation to religious issues, such as blasphemy laws.

Collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief : it should be stressed in the Guidelines that an indispensable part of freedom of religion or belief is the right of each individual to manifest the freedom of religion or belief alone or in community with others. It should be noted in the Guidelines that the right to exercise religion in community with others (in the context of which ’individual freedoms must always be respected) should not unnecessarily be limited to officially recognised places of worship, and that all undue limitations to the freedom of assembly should be condemned by the EU. The Guidelines should underline that States have a duty to remain neutral and impartial towards religious groups, including as regards symbolic or financial support.

Secularism : the Guidelines underline that part of freedom of religion should include the freedom not to participate in any given religious activity or event. In this regard, plenary recalls the principle of secularism and stipulates in an amendment that it should be defined as the strict separation between religious and political authorities. It implies the rejection of any religious interference in the functioning of government and of any public interference in religious affairs except for the purpose of upholding rules of safety and public order (including respect for the freedom of others), and that it guarantees equal liberty of conscience for all, be they believers, agnostics or atheists.

Education : the right of parents to educate their children according to their religious or non-religious convictions includes their right to deny any undue interference by state or non-state actors in their education opposed to their religious or non-religious convictions. The Guidelines should stress these aspects of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and should also guarantee secularisation in public education.

The right to conscientious objection : the Guidelines should include the right to conscientious objection to military service as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The EU should call on states with a system of compulsory military service to allow for an alternative service of a non-combatant or civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature, and to refrain from punishing, including through prison sentences, conscientious objectors for failure to perform military service.

Asylum : the EU should encourage third countries to accept refugees persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief , and to provide them with asylum protection, especially in cases where refugees are threatened by death or violence. EU Member States should also step up their efforts to accept refugees persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief.

Civil society : support for and engagement with a broad range of civil society organisations, while developing and implementing the Guidelines, will be of crucial importance for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. The human rights focal points in the EU delegations should maintain regular contacts with these organisations in order to be able to identify as soon as possible problems arising in the area of freedom of religion or belief in their respective countries.

Monitoring : a set of instruments for the monitoring, assessment and support of the EU Guidelines should be adopted in order to: (i) provide a detailed situation analysis checklist to track and monitor the situation as regards the right to freedom of religion or belief in the respective country in order to identify progress/setbacks; (ii) require EU Heads of Mission to report regularly on freedom of religion or belief issues, with a detailed assessment of the situation, as well as of the existence of violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief and repression against its defenders or other individuals; (iii) emphasise concrete action in international fora, or in development cooperation activities which have been instrumental in protecting and promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief; (iv) enable victims to give testimony before the EU institutions as regards their religious convictions. This set of instruments ( circulaire ) should be prepared in consultation with stakeholders and be ready before the end of 2013 ;

Use of external financial instruments : the EU’s external financial instruments should be used both as incentives and deterrents (for example, freezing funds) with regard to freedom of religion or belief in a particular country, as this forms an integral part of the assessment of the overall human rights situation in the country. Parliament recommends that the use of human rights clauses in EU external agreements has to be binding and systematically integrated into all agreements of the EU with third countries.

Evaluation : Parliament should be involved in the evaluation of the implementation of the Guidelines, which should be carried out no later than three years after the Guidelines have come into force. It should be based on an analysis of the EU response to concrete situations related to the violation of freedom of religion or belief in third countries.

Documents
2013/06/13
   EP - End of procedure in Parliament
2013/06/12
   EP - Debate in Parliament
2013/06/05
   EP - Committee report tabled for plenary
Details

The Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted the own-initiative report by Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ (EPP, LT) with a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the draft EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The report recalls that the right to freedom of religion or belief, including theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, the right not to believe and the right to change one’s religion or belief, is a universal human right and a fundamental freedom of each human being.

The European Parliament has repeatedly called for an ambitious toolkit to advance the right to freedom of religion or belief as part of EU external policy . Therefore, in this context, it has welcomed the EU’s commitment to developing guidelines on freedom of religion or belief in accordance with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, and has stressed the need for Parliament and civil society organisations to be involved in the preparation of these guidelines.

Members address the following recommendations to the Council:

Reason for action : violence, persecution and discrimination against people belonging to religious communities and minorities, or against people who hold non-religious beliefs, persist in many parts of the world. The lack of religious tolerance and openness to dialogue and the lack of ecumenical coexistence often lead to political unrest, violence and open armed conflicts, endangering lives and undermining regional stability. Clear and prompt condemnation by the European Union of all forms of violence and discrimination should be a basic element of EU policy in the area of freedom of religion or belief . Particular attention should be paid to the situation of those who change their religion or belief, as in practice they are subject in a number of countries to social pressure, intimidation or outright violence.

Purpose and scope : the purpose and scope of the EU Guidelines should be to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief in third countries, to mainstream freedom of religion or belief in all the EU’s external actions and human rights policies and to develop clear benchmarks, criteria, standards and a practical orientation in order to enhance the promotion of freedom of religion or belief in the work of officials from the EU institutions and Member States, and thus contribute to more coherence, effectiveness and visibility on the part of the EU in its external relations.

Definitions : the Guidelines should offer clarity in the definitions used. Clear definitions are also required as regards the recognition of the legal personality of religious and belief-based institutions and respect for their autonomy, the right to religious education of children, the right to conscientious objection of military service, the right to asylum, the right to observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies and the fundamental right to protection of one’s property.

Freedom of expression : the EU should bear in mind that modern media tools allow for a greater degree of interconnectedness between cultures and faiths. Therefore, steps need to be taken to avoid intercultural violence as a reaction to acts of freedom of expression related to criticism. In this context, the EU should help in reducing such tensions, for example by promoting mutual understanding and dialogue, and condemn unequivocally any act of violence committed in reaction to such speech, and it should firmly oppose any attempt to criminalise freedom of speech in relation to religious issues, such as blasphemy laws.

Collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief : it should be stressed in the Guidelines that an indispensable part of freedom of religion or belief is the right of each individual to manifest the freedom of religion or belief alone or in community with others. It should be noted in the Guidelines that the right to exercise religion in community with others (in the context of which ’individual freedoms must always be respected) should not unnecessarily be limited to officially recognised places of worship, and that all undue limitations to the freedom of assembly should be condemned by the EU. The Guidelines should underline that States have a duty to remain neutral and impartial towards religious groups, including as regards symbolic or financial support.

Education : the right of parents to educate their children according to their religious or non-religious convictions includes their right to deny any undue interference by state or non-state actors in their education opposed to their religious or non-religious convictions. The Guidelines should stress these aspects of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and should also guarantee secularisation in public education.

The right to conscientious objection : the Guidelines should include the right to conscientious objection to military service as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The EU should call on states with a system of compulsory military service to allow for an alternative service of a non-combatant or civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature, and to refrain from punishing, including through prison sentences, conscientious objectors for failure to perform military service.

Asylum : the EU should encourage third countries to accept refugees persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief , and to provide them with asylum protection, especially in cases where refugees are threatened by death or violence. EU Member States should also step up their efforts to accept refugees persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief.

Civil society : support for and engagement with a broad range of civil society organisations, while developing and implementing the Guidelines, will be of crucial importance for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. The human rights focal points in the EU delegations should maintain regular contacts with these organisations in order to be able to identify as soon as possible problems arising in the area of freedom of religion or belief in their respective countries.

Monitoring and assessment : proper and ongoing monitoring and assessment of the situation in the area of freedom of religion or belief in the world has to be ensured by the European External Action Service. A common circulaire for the monitoring, assessment and support of the EU Guidelines should be adopted.

Use of external financial instruments : the EU’s external financial instruments should be used both as incentives and deterrents (for example, freezing funds) with regard to freedom of religion or belief in a particular country, as this forms an integral part of the assessment of the overall human rights situation in the country. Members recommend that the use of human rights clauses in EU external agreements has to be binding and systematically integrated into all agreements of the EU with third countries.

Evaluation : Parliament should be involved in the evaluation of the implementation of the Guidelines, which should be carried out no later than three years after the Guidelines have come into force. It should be based on an analysis of the EU response to concrete situations related to the violation of freedom of religion or belief in third countries.

Documents
2013/05/29
   EP - Vote in committee
2013/05/13
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2013/04/25
   EP - Committee draft report
Documents
2013/04/23
   EP - ANDRIKIENĖ Laima Liucija (PPE) appointed as rapporteur in AFET
2013/04/12
   EC - Non-legislative basic document published
Details

Pursuant to Rule 121(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ (EPP, LT) has proposed, on behalf of the EPP group, a proposal for a recommendation to the Council on the draft EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The draft text recalls that the Parliament has repeatedly called for an ambitious toolkit to advance the right to freedom of religion or belief as part of EU external policy and that freedom of religion or belief constitutes an essential and basic right which must be respected.

Guidelines should be based based on the following principles:

Scope and subject matter : the purpose and scope of the EU Guidelines are: (i) to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief; (ii) to mainstream freedom of religion or belief in EU human rights policies and actions; (iii) to develop clear benchmarks, criteria and standards in order to enhance the promotion of freedom of religion or belief in the work of civil servants and EU officials. Operational guidelines : the basic principles underlying EU actions on freedom of religion or belief, as well as the priority areas for those actions, are identified in Part 2 of the draft EU Guidelines. The Guidelines are supported by international law and by treaties recognised by the international community and ratified by Member States. Collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief : an indispensable part of the freedom of religion or belief is the right to manifest that freedom in community with others. It includes the freedom to establish and maintain places of worship, to establish and maintain appropriate institutions with legal personality, and to appoint leaders of those institutions without external interference on the part of the state. Support for – and engagement with – civil society : support for and engagement with civil society in implementing the Guidelines is of crucial importance for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. Use of external EU financial instruments : the external EU financial instruments should be used both as incentives and as deterrents (freezing of funds) with regard to freedom of religion or belief in a particular country, being closely related to the assessment of the human rights situation as a whole in the country.

Documents

Documents

AmendmentsDossier
76 2013/2082(INI)
2013/05/13 AFET 76 amendments...
source: PE-510.655

History

(these mark the time of scraping, not the official date of the change)

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  • date: 2013-05-13T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&mode=XML&language=EN&reference=PE510.655 title: PE510.655 type: Amendments tabled in committee body: EP
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  • date: 2013-04-12T00:00:00 type: Non-legislative basic document published body: EC docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2013-164&language=EN title: B7-0164/2013 summary: Pursuant to Rule 121(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ (EPP, LT) has proposed, on behalf of the EPP group, a proposal for a recommendation to the Council on the draft EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief. The draft text recalls that the Parliament has repeatedly called for an ambitious toolkit to advance the right to freedom of religion or belief as part of EU external policy and that freedom of religion or belief constitutes an essential and basic right which must be respected. Guidelines should be based based on the following principles: Scope and subject matter : the purpose and scope of the EU Guidelines are: (i) to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief; (ii) to mainstream freedom of religion or belief in EU human rights policies and actions; (iii) to develop clear benchmarks, criteria and standards in order to enhance the promotion of freedom of religion or belief in the work of civil servants and EU officials. Operational guidelines : the basic principles underlying EU actions on freedom of religion or belief, as well as the priority areas for those actions, are identified in Part 2 of the draft EU Guidelines. The Guidelines are supported by international law and by treaties recognised by the international community and ratified by Member States. Collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief : an indispensable part of the freedom of religion or belief is the right to manifest that freedom in community with others. It includes the freedom to establish and maintain places of worship, to establish and maintain appropriate institutions with legal personality, and to appoint leaders of those institutions without external interference on the part of the state. Support for – and engagement with – civil society : support for and engagement with civil society in implementing the Guidelines is of crucial importance for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. Use of external EU financial instruments : the external EU financial instruments should be used both as incentives and as deterrents (freezing of funds) with regard to freedom of religion or belief in a particular country, being closely related to the assessment of the human rights situation as a whole in the country.
  • date: 2013-05-29T00:00:00 type: Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading body: EP
  • date: 2013-06-05T00:00:00 type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-203&language=EN title: A7-0203/2013 summary: The Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted the own-initiative report by Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ (EPP, LT) with a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the draft EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief. The report recalls that the right to freedom of religion or belief, including theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, the right not to believe and the right to change one’s religion or belief, is a universal human right and a fundamental freedom of each human being. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for an ambitious toolkit to advance the right to freedom of religion or belief as part of EU external policy . Therefore, in this context, it has welcomed the EU’s commitment to developing guidelines on freedom of religion or belief in accordance with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, and has stressed the need for Parliament and civil society organisations to be involved in the preparation of these guidelines. Members address the following recommendations to the Council: Reason for action : violence, persecution and discrimination against people belonging to religious communities and minorities, or against people who hold non-religious beliefs, persist in many parts of the world. The lack of religious tolerance and openness to dialogue and the lack of ecumenical coexistence often lead to political unrest, violence and open armed conflicts, endangering lives and undermining regional stability. Clear and prompt condemnation by the European Union of all forms of violence and discrimination should be a basic element of EU policy in the area of freedom of religion or belief . Particular attention should be paid to the situation of those who change their religion or belief, as in practice they are subject in a number of countries to social pressure, intimidation or outright violence. Purpose and scope : the purpose and scope of the EU Guidelines should be to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief in third countries, to mainstream freedom of religion or belief in all the EU’s external actions and human rights policies and to develop clear benchmarks, criteria, standards and a practical orientation in order to enhance the promotion of freedom of religion or belief in the work of officials from the EU institutions and Member States, and thus contribute to more coherence, effectiveness and visibility on the part of the EU in its external relations. Definitions : the Guidelines should offer clarity in the definitions used. Clear definitions are also required as regards the recognition of the legal personality of religious and belief-based institutions and respect for their autonomy, the right to religious education of children, the right to conscientious objection of military service, the right to asylum, the right to observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies and the fundamental right to protection of one’s property. Freedom of expression : the EU should bear in mind that modern media tools allow for a greater degree of interconnectedness between cultures and faiths. Therefore, steps need to be taken to avoid intercultural violence as a reaction to acts of freedom of expression related to criticism. In this context, the EU should help in reducing such tensions, for example by promoting mutual understanding and dialogue, and condemn unequivocally any act of violence committed in reaction to such speech, and it should firmly oppose any attempt to criminalise freedom of speech in relation to religious issues, such as blasphemy laws. Collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief : it should be stressed in the Guidelines that an indispensable part of freedom of religion or belief is the right of each individual to manifest the freedom of religion or belief alone or in community with others. It should be noted in the Guidelines that the right to exercise religion in community with others (in the context of which ’individual freedoms must always be respected) should not unnecessarily be limited to officially recognised places of worship, and that all undue limitations to the freedom of assembly should be condemned by the EU. The Guidelines should underline that States have a duty to remain neutral and impartial towards religious groups, including as regards symbolic or financial support. Education : the right of parents to educate their children according to their religious or non-religious convictions includes their right to deny any undue interference by state or non-state actors in their education opposed to their religious or non-religious convictions. The Guidelines should stress these aspects of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and should also guarantee secularisation in public education. The right to conscientious objection : the Guidelines should include the right to conscientious objection to military service as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The EU should call on states with a system of compulsory military service to allow for an alternative service of a non-combatant or civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature, and to refrain from punishing, including through prison sentences, conscientious objectors for failure to perform military service. Asylum : the EU should encourage third countries to accept refugees persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief , and to provide them with asylum protection, especially in cases where refugees are threatened by death or violence. EU Member States should also step up their efforts to accept refugees persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief. Civil society : support for and engagement with a broad range of civil society organisations, while developing and implementing the Guidelines, will be of crucial importance for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. The human rights focal points in the EU delegations should maintain regular contacts with these organisations in order to be able to identify as soon as possible problems arising in the area of freedom of religion or belief in their respective countries. Monitoring and assessment : proper and ongoing monitoring and assessment of the situation in the area of freedom of religion or belief in the world has to be ensured by the European External Action Service. A common circulaire for the monitoring, assessment and support of the EU Guidelines should be adopted. Use of external financial instruments : the EU’s external financial instruments should be used both as incentives and deterrents (for example, freezing funds) with regard to freedom of religion or belief in a particular country, as this forms an integral part of the assessment of the overall human rights situation in the country. Members recommend that the use of human rights clauses in EU external agreements has to be binding and systematically integrated into all agreements of the EU with third countries. Evaluation : Parliament should be involved in the evaluation of the implementation of the Guidelines, which should be carried out no later than three years after the Guidelines have come into force. It should be based on an analysis of the EU response to concrete situations related to the violation of freedom of religion or belief in third countries.
  • date: 2013-06-12T00:00:00 type: Debate in Parliament body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?secondRef=TOC&language=EN&reference=20130612&type=CRE title: Debate in Parliament
  • date: 2013-06-13T00:00:00 type: Results of vote in Parliament body: EP docs: url: https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/sda.do?id=23044&l=en title: Results of vote in Parliament
  • date: 2013-06-13T00:00:00 type: Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading body: EP
  • date: 2013-06-13T00:00:00 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading body: EP docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-279 title: T7-0279/2013 summary: The European Parliament adopted by 372 votes to 213, with 26 abstentions, a resolution containing a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the draft EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief. The resolution recalls that the right to freedom of religion or belief, including theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, the right not to believe and the right to change one’s religion or belief, is a universal human right and a fundamental freedom of each human being. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for an ambitious toolkit to advance the right to freedom of religion or belief as part of EU external policy . Therefore, in this context, it has welcomed the EU’s commitment to developing guidelines on freedom of religion or belief in accordance with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, and has stressed the need for Parliament and civil society organisations to be involved in the preparation of these guidelines. Parliament addresses the following recommendations to the Council: Reason for action : violence, persecution and discrimination against people belonging to religious communities and minorities, or against people who hold non-religious beliefs, persist in many parts of the world. The lack of religious tolerance and openness to dialogue and the lack of ecumenical coexistence often lead to political unrest, violence and open armed conflicts, endangering lives and undermining regional stability. Clear and prompt condemnation by the European Union of all forms of violence and discrimination should be a basic element of EU policy in the area of freedom of religion or belief . Particular attention should be paid to the situation of those who change their religion or belief, as in practice they are subject in a number of countries to social pressure, intimidation or outright violence. Purpose and scope : the purpose and scope of the EU Guidelines should be to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief in third countries, to mainstream freedom of religion or belief in all the EU’s external actions and human rights policies and to develop clear benchmarks, criteria, standards and a practical orientation in order to enhance the promotion of freedom of religion or belief in the work of officials from the EU institutions and Member States, and thus contribute to more coherence, effectiveness and visibility on the part of the EU in its external relations. Definitions : the Guidelines should offer clarity in the definitions used. Clear definitions are also required as regards the recognition of the legal personality of religious and belief-based institutions and respect for their autonomy, the right to religious education of children, the right to conscientious objection of military service, the right to asylum, the right to observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies and the fundamental right to protection of one’s property. The Guidelines should also apply to t he right to believe or not to believe as well as the ri ght of parents to educate their children according to their moral convictions – i.e. religious or non-religious . Proportionality : as the draft Guidelines state, in accordance with the principles accepted by the international community, the freedom from coercion to have or to adopt a religion or belief and the liberty of parents and guardians to ensure religious and moral education cannot be restricted. Any other manifestation of the right to freedom of religion or belief may be subject only to ‘such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others’. These limitations must be strictly interpreted, directly related and proportionate with regard to the protected rights of others and the right balance must be achieved. Freedom of expression : the EU should bear in mind that modern media tools allow for a greater degree of interconnectedness between cultures and faiths. Therefore, steps need to be taken to avoid intercultural violence as a reaction to acts of freedom of expression related to criticism. In this context, the EU should help in reducing such tensions, for example by promoting mutual understanding and dialogue, and condemn unequivocally any act of violence committed in reaction to such speech, and it should firmly oppose any attempt to criminalise freedom of speech in relation to religious issues, such as blasphemy laws. Collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief : it should be stressed in the Guidelines that an indispensable part of freedom of religion or belief is the right of each individual to manifest the freedom of religion or belief alone or in community with others. It should be noted in the Guidelines that the right to exercise religion in community with others (in the context of which ’individual freedoms must always be respected) should not unnecessarily be limited to officially recognised places of worship, and that all undue limitations to the freedom of assembly should be condemned by the EU. The Guidelines should underline that States have a duty to remain neutral and impartial towards religious groups, including as regards symbolic or financial support. Secularism : the Guidelines underline that part of freedom of religion should include the freedom not to participate in any given religious activity or event. In this regard, plenary recalls the principle of secularism and stipulates in an amendment that it should be defined as the strict separation between religious and political authorities. It implies the rejection of any religious interference in the functioning of government and of any public interference in religious affairs except for the purpose of upholding rules of safety and public order (including respect for the freedom of others), and that it guarantees equal liberty of conscience for all, be they believers, agnostics or atheists. Education : the right of parents to educate their children according to their religious or non-religious convictions includes their right to deny any undue interference by state or non-state actors in their education opposed to their religious or non-religious convictions. The Guidelines should stress these aspects of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and should also guarantee secularisation in public education. The right to conscientious objection : the Guidelines should include the right to conscientious objection to military service as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The EU should call on states with a system of compulsory military service to allow for an alternative service of a non-combatant or civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature, and to refrain from punishing, including through prison sentences, conscientious objectors for failure to perform military service. Asylum : the EU should encourage third countries to accept refugees persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief , and to provide them with asylum protection, especially in cases where refugees are threatened by death or violence. EU Member States should also step up their efforts to accept refugees persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief. Civil society : support for and engagement with a broad range of civil society organisations, while developing and implementing the Guidelines, will be of crucial importance for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief. The human rights focal points in the EU delegations should maintain regular contacts with these organisations in order to be able to identify as soon as possible problems arising in the area of freedom of religion or belief in their respective countries. Monitoring : a set of instruments for the monitoring, assessment and support of the EU Guidelines should be adopted in order to: (i) provide a detailed situation analysis checklist to track and monitor the situation as regards the right to freedom of religion or belief in the respective country in order to identify progress/setbacks; (ii) require EU Heads of Mission to report regularly on freedom of religion or belief issues, with a detailed assessment of the situation, as well as of the existence of violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief and repression against its defenders or other individuals; (iii) emphasise concrete action in international fora, or in development cooperation activities which have been instrumental in protecting and promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief; (iv) enable victims to give testimony before the EU institutions as regards their religious convictions. This set of instruments ( circulaire ) should be prepared in consultation with stakeholders and be ready before the end of 2013 ; Use of external financial instruments : the EU’s external financial instruments should be used both as incentives and deterrents (for example, freezing funds) with regard to freedom of religion or belief in a particular country, as this forms an integral part of the assessment of the overall human rights situation in the country. Parliament recommends that the use of human rights clauses in EU external agreements has to be binding and systematically integrated into all agreements of the EU with third countries. Evaluation : Parliament should be involved in the evaluation of the implementation of the Guidelines, which should be carried out no later than three years after the Guidelines have come into force. It should be based on an analysis of the EU response to concrete situations related to the violation of freedom of religion or belief in third countries.
  • date: 2013-06-13T00:00:00 type: End of procedure in Parliament body: EP
links
other
  • body: EC dg: url: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/ title: Justice commissioner: REDING Viviane
procedure/dossier_of_the_committee
Old
AFET/7/12569
New
  • AFET/7/12569
procedure/legal_basis/0
Rules of Procedure EP 134
procedure/legal_basis/0
Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 134
procedure/subject
Old
  • 6.10.08 Fundamental freedoms, human rights, democracy in general
New
6.10.08
Fundamental freedoms, human rights, democracy in general
activities
  • date: 2013-04-12T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2013-164&language=EN type: Non-legislative basic document published title: B7-0164/2013 body: EC commission: DG: url: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/ title: Justice Commissioner: REDING Viviane type: Non-legislative basic document published
  • date: 2013-05-29T00:00:00 body: EP type: Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading committees: body: EP shadows: group: S&D name: HOWITT Richard group: ALDE name: DONSKIS Leonidas group: Verts/ALE name: BICEP Jean-Jacob group: ECR name: TANNOCK Charles group: GUE/NGL name: VERGIAT Marie-Christine group: EFD name: BELDER Bas responsible: True committee: AFET date: 2013-04-23T00:00:00 committee_full: Foreign Affairs rapporteur: group: PPE name: ANDRIKIENĖ Laima Liucija
  • date: 2013-06-05T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2013-203&language=EN type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading title: A7-0203/2013 body: EP type: Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
  • date: 2013-06-12T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?secondRef=TOC&language=EN&reference=20130612&type=CRE type: Debate in Parliament title: Debate in Parliament body: EP type: Debate in Parliament
  • date: 2013-06-13T00:00:00 docs: url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/sda.do?id=23044&l=en type: Results of vote in Parliament title: Results of vote in Parliament url: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-279 type: Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading title: T7-0279/2013 body: EP type: Results of vote in Parliament
committees
  • body: EP shadows: group: S&D name: HOWITT Richard group: ALDE name: DONSKIS Leonidas group: Verts/ALE name: BICEP Jean-Jacob group: ECR name: TANNOCK Charles group: GUE/NGL name: VERGIAT Marie-Christine group: EFD name: BELDER Bas responsible: True committee: AFET date: 2013-04-23T00:00:00 committee_full: Foreign Affairs rapporteur: group: PPE name: ANDRIKIENĖ Laima Liucija
links
other
  • body: EC dg: url: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/ title: Justice commissioner: REDING Viviane
procedure
dossier_of_the_committee
AFET/7/12569
reference
2013/2082(INI)
title
European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the draft EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief
legal_basis
Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 134
stage_reached
Procedure completed
type
INI - Own-initiative procedure
subject
6.10.08 Fundamental freedoms, human rights, democracy in general