Religious Diversity and Secular Models in Europe: What role and potential for the EU?

With religion assuming a growing prominence in public debates across the EU, the question of how to manage Europe’s religious diversity was the focus of an expert seminar jointly organised by CEPS, the Catholic University of Leuven and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research on January 14th at the Belgian Senate .

 

Project partners were joined by policymakers from the European institutions to discuss early findings and potential policy recommendations.

The presentations and debates highlighted the need to avoid problematising religion and instead look for ways to accommodate religious diversity in different areas of life such as the workplace, family law and public spaces, including schools. It was suggested that cultural sensitivity training for legal representatives could help increase accessibility of the Courts for individuals with a migrant background. Regarding the treatment of religious symbols and religious dress codes in public spaces, seminar participants considered that exclusion of religion was not the only way to achieve the neutrality of public institutions; it could also be achieved through the inclusion of a plurality of religions.

                       

Sergio Carrera and Joanna Parkin (CEPS) presented their research on the place of religion in the policies of the European Commission, showing that questions of religious diversity are not limited to the national arena but are becoming increasingly relevant for EU law and policy. They called for more reflection on how the EU can develop a coherent strategy where policy actions touch on issues of religious diversity and ensure more balance between religious organisations represented in the policy making process at EU level.
 

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