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Religion and the EU's external policies: Increasing engagement

12-02-2020

Religion has been emerging as a new dimension in the EU's external policies. This paper provides an overview of the principles, institutional set-up and policies underpinning the EU's approach to religious issues in third countries. Nine case studies meanwhile serve to illustrate the important role played by religion in the foreign policies of a number of different countries worldwide.

Religion has been emerging as a new dimension in the EU's external policies. This paper provides an overview of the principles, institutional set-up and policies underpinning the EU's approach to religious issues in third countries. Nine case studies meanwhile serve to illustrate the important role played by religion in the foreign policies of a number of different countries worldwide.

The European Union and Holocaust remembrance

23-01-2020

The term Holocaust refers to the mass murder of 6 million European Jews, Roma and other persecuted groups, whom the Nazi regime and its collaborators sought to annihilate. The expropriation, state-sponsored discrimination and persecution of the Jews by the Nazi regime began in 1933, followed by pogroms and their mass incarceration in concentration camps. Ultimately, this policy was extended to all Nazi-controlled European territories and countries during World War II, culminating in mass summary ...

The term Holocaust refers to the mass murder of 6 million European Jews, Roma and other persecuted groups, whom the Nazi regime and its collaborators sought to annihilate. The expropriation, state-sponsored discrimination and persecution of the Jews by the Nazi regime began in 1933, followed by pogroms and their mass incarceration in concentration camps. Ultimately, this policy was extended to all Nazi-controlled European territories and countries during World War II, culminating in mass summary executions ('Holocaust by Bullets') and extermination in death camps. The perpetrators were prosecuted at the Nuremberg trials in 1945-1946; however, the tribunal preferred to indict them on charges of crimes against humanity rather than genocide. It was not until 2005, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz that a United Nations resolution designated 27 January the day for international commemoration of the Holocaust, to be known as 'International Holocaust Remembrance Day'. In the European Union, numerous programmes seek to preserve the memory of these tragic events in the history of the continent. Since 1995, the European Parliament has adopted resolutions drawing attention to the obligation to remember not only through commemorations but also through education. In November 2018, the EU became a permanent international partner of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This is a further updated version of a briefing from January 2018.

Louise Weiss - Campaigner for liberty

20-11-2019

Throughout her career in the public eye, Louise Weiss was both a writer and an activist. She was among those who promoted the European ideal on the basis of their experiences during the First World War. Like many other people who were similarly influenced, Louise Weiss was a product of the borderlands, her family having come from the part of eastern France that had been annexed by Germany in 1871. Louise Weiss devoted her life to various campaigns, which can be seen as having been mutually reinforcing ...

Throughout her career in the public eye, Louise Weiss was both a writer and an activist. She was among those who promoted the European ideal on the basis of their experiences during the First World War. Like many other people who were similarly influenced, Louise Weiss was a product of the borderlands, her family having come from the part of eastern France that had been annexed by Germany in 1871. Louise Weiss devoted her life to various campaigns, which can be seen as having been mutually reinforcing: the battle for women's rights, the battles for Europe and for freedom for the nations of central Europe, and the intellectual struggle to analyse and eradicate the roots of war. At different times in her life, she was a journalist, a politician, a committed intellectual and a maker of documentary films in many parts of the world. Her commitment to Europe remained the underlying theme of everything she did, and in 1979 she successfully stood as a candidate in the first elections to the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage. As the oldest member of the assembly, she gave the inaugural speech, before handing over the presidency to another woman who had campaigned for Europe, Simone Veil. Today, the building in which the European Parliament has its plenary chamber in Strasbourg is named after Louise Weiss.

Freedom of conscience around the world

29-10-2019

Many international conventions, such as those adopted by the United Nations, and regional conventions, emphasise the need to protect freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, to which they attach equal importance. In Europe, these conventions are supplemented by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Freedom of conscience or opinion covers a wide range of beliefs and practices that reflect attitudes stemming from personal choices; ...

Many international conventions, such as those adopted by the United Nations, and regional conventions, emphasise the need to protect freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, to which they attach equal importance. In Europe, these conventions are supplemented by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Freedom of conscience or opinion covers a wide range of beliefs and practices that reflect attitudes stemming from personal choices; the beliefs and practices involved are not easily categorisable. For that reason, international statistics are sometimes patchy and it is difficult to determine exactly how many people around the world do in fact enjoy freedom of conscience, particularly as in some parts of the world a climate of intolerance makes the exercise of that freedom problematic. Freedom of conscience is not upheld in every country: either the state itself is guilty of discrimination or persecution, or it is incapable of curbing violent social responses motivated by intolerance. It is hard to put a figure on the number of cases involving denial of freedom of conscience, because the victims of persecution go largely unnoticed by the media. In many countries the situation is worrying, and the European Union is committed to defending freedom of conscience in its relations with its partners. This briefing is an update of an earlier one published in April 2018.

Reconciliation in the Western Balkans: The difficulty of emulating the EU model

17-04-2019

In 2017, the European Union turned 60, celebrating not only six decades of peace between its Member States but also integration – based on a framework for a peaceful European ethos – which helped bring reconciliation to its citizens that would have otherwise been impossible to achieve. In the Western Balkans, which were torn apart by wars after the disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, conflicting narratives about the past continue to charge intra-regional relations with animosity ...

In 2017, the European Union turned 60, celebrating not only six decades of peace between its Member States but also integration – based on a framework for a peaceful European ethos – which helped bring reconciliation to its citizens that would have otherwise been impossible to achieve. In the Western Balkans, which were torn apart by wars after the disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, conflicting narratives about the past continue to charge intra-regional relations with animosity, and a number of bilateral disputes await resolution. Just as the European Communities helped to bring peace to post-World War II western Europe, so does the EU promote the reconciliation process in the countries that were once part of Yugoslavia. A credible promise of accession to the EU for all Western Balkan countries gives them an incentive to improve their working relationships and work on reconciliation more vigorously. Since 2017, the EU has renewed its attempts to infuse the Western Balkan countries' enlargement process with fresh energy. In a March 2018 statement, the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, said it was 'time to close the wounds of the past' and take steps to guarantee stability for the whole of Europe. The European Commission's new enlargement strategy of February 2018, apart from placing special emphasis on solving all bilateral disputes, highlights reconciliation as a prerequisite for EU accession, and envisages a dedicated flagship initiative. This briefing aims to draw attention to the importance of reconciliation, both as part of the Western Balkans' EU integration process and as an answer to the region's widely perceived need to come to terms with the past. Civil-society representatives and experts often see reconciliation in the region as a prerequisite for building sustainable cooperation in many areas and a process that would help local youth to overcome their prejudices and restore their trust in their countries and region. However, achieving reconciliation requires cooperation in practice, something that will likely take decades to accomplish.

Turkish Cypriot community: Financial support instrument

10-04-2019

The Commission runs an aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community in order to prepare for and facilitate reunification of Cyprus.

The Commission runs an aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community in order to prepare for and facilitate reunification of Cyprus.

EU-Armenia people-to-people contacts

29-03-2019

EU-Armenia relations have recently been strengthened through the two parties' comprehensive and enhanced partnership agreement (CEPA), applied provisionally since June 2018. This instrument, along with additional frameworks – an association agreement, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership – promotes enhanced people-to-people contacts between the EU and Armenia.

EU-Armenia relations have recently been strengthened through the two parties' comprehensive and enhanced partnership agreement (CEPA), applied provisionally since June 2018. This instrument, along with additional frameworks – an association agreement, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership – promotes enhanced people-to-people contacts between the EU and Armenia.

EU-Eastern Partnership people-to-people contacts

25-03-2019

In 2009, the EU launched its Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative with the ambition to promote closer cooperation with six of its eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Support for people-to-people contacts is a key element of the EU's EaP strategy, and is extended through programmes in the areas of movement of persons, education and peace-building.

In 2009, the EU launched its Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative with the ambition to promote closer cooperation with six of its eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Support for people-to-people contacts is a key element of the EU's EaP strategy, and is extended through programmes in the areas of movement of persons, education and peace-building.

EU-Azerbaijan people-to-people contacts

19-03-2019

The European Union and Azerbaijan are negotiating a comprehensive agreement in order to reinforce their partnership. Even if Azerbaijan is geographically the most distant Eastern Partnership country, the EU remains its main trading partner. In 2019, the EU and Azerbaijan will celebrate the 20th anniversary since their partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) entered into force in 1999. In recent years, EU support for civil society in Azerbaijan has been made more difficult by a new legal framework ...

The European Union and Azerbaijan are negotiating a comprehensive agreement in order to reinforce their partnership. Even if Azerbaijan is geographically the most distant Eastern Partnership country, the EU remains its main trading partner. In 2019, the EU and Azerbaijan will celebrate the 20th anniversary since their partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) entered into force in 1999. In recent years, EU support for civil society in Azerbaijan has been made more difficult by a new legal framework against foreign-funded NGOs.

EU-Georgia people-to-people contacts

14-03-2019

Since 2003, relations between the EU and Georgia have deepened, and at present the country is the EU's closest partner in the South Caucasus region. Relations have been strengthened further through the recent signing of an association agreement between the two parties and the deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA) it introduced. The EU also seeks to promote more people-to-people contacts between its citizens and Georgians, as well as supporting the vibrant Georgian civil society.

Since 2003, relations between the EU and Georgia have deepened, and at present the country is the EU's closest partner in the South Caucasus region. Relations have been strengthened further through the recent signing of an association agreement between the two parties and the deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA) it introduced. The EU also seeks to promote more people-to-people contacts between its citizens and Georgians, as well as supporting the vibrant Georgian civil society.

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