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Article 17 TFEU: The EU institutions’ dialogue with churches, religious and philosophical organisations

05-11-2018

On the basis of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European institutions hold high-level meetings, or working dialogue seminars, on an annual basis with churches and non-confessional and philosophical organisations. This dialogue, focused on issues upon the European agenda, can be traced back to earlier initiatives, such as that launched in 1994 by Jacques Delors – 'A Soul for Europe' – which opened the way to encompass ethical and spiritual aspects of European ...

On the basis of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European institutions hold high-level meetings, or working dialogue seminars, on an annual basis with churches and non-confessional and philosophical organisations. This dialogue, focused on issues upon the European agenda, can be traced back to earlier initiatives, such as that launched in 1994 by Jacques Delors – 'A Soul for Europe' – which opened the way to encompass ethical and spiritual aspects of European integration. The draft Constitutional Treaty of 2004 included provisions on regular, open and transparent dialogue between EU institutions, representatives of churches and religious communities, and of non-confessional or philosophical communities. Although the Constitutional Treaty was rejected in French and Dutch referenda, its successor, the Lisbon Treaty adopted in 2007 and in force since December 2009, preserved the same provisions in Article 17 TFEU. The European Parliament has adopted numerous resolutions in defence of the principles of freedom of religion and belief as well as religious pluralism and tolerance, and stressed the importance of constant dialogue among, and with, religious as well as non-confessional and philosophical communities. It has regularly organised dialogue sessions within the framework of Article 17 TFEU on subjects of interest for the EU and its citizens. This is a further updated version of a briefing published in January 2018.

The EU and faith-based organisations in development and humanitarian aid

08-11-2017

All over the world, faith-based organisations (FBOs) are active in the fields of development and humanitarian aid. Their faith-based character can stem from various dimensions (link to a religious organisation, funding, mission statement or main beneficiaries), but collectively they are important actors on the ground. Nonetheless, there is no fixed definition of an FBO, and in practice there are many different forms of FBO active in providing aid and development assistance. Indeed faith-based organisations ...

All over the world, faith-based organisations (FBOs) are active in the fields of development and humanitarian aid. Their faith-based character can stem from various dimensions (link to a religious organisation, funding, mission statement or main beneficiaries), but collectively they are important actors on the ground. Nonetheless, there is no fixed definition of an FBO, and in practice there are many different forms of FBO active in providing aid and development assistance. Indeed faith-based organisations are among the biggest NGOs active in the development and aid fields. In the past 20 years, national and international funders have developed an interest in better understanding and cooperating with FBOs. The World Bank, and a number of EU Member States have developed programmes and expertise in this field. Part of the reason for the growing interest in the work of FBOs is the recognition that religious affiliation often plays a major role in the beneficiary societies, and that working with religious leaders in those communities is often the most effective way of reaching local people. The European Union itself also cooperates with FBOs in development and humanitarian aid, through various programmes with civil society and on human rights. Nevertheless, the EU does not keep precise statistics, because the faith-based character of the beneficiary is not among the criteria for selecting them as partners.

Dialogue of the EU institutions with religious and non-confessional organisations

01-06-2017

Every year the European institutions hold dialogue sessions with churches, and with non-confessional and philosophical organisations. Based on Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) the dialogue focuses on issues on the European agenda.

Every year the European institutions hold dialogue sessions with churches, and with non-confessional and philosophical organisations. Based on Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) the dialogue focuses on issues on the European agenda.

The EU security environment: Challenges and shifts

15-06-2016

Over the past few years, the world’s commitment to peace and its capacity to deal with evolving security challenges have been put to the test. The outcomes – an increasing number of refugees, an expanding network of terrorist organisations, some countries’ high dependency on international aid, and a relatively low level of respect for civil liberties around the world – demonstrate an urgent need for reflection and adaptation.

Over the past few years, the world’s commitment to peace and its capacity to deal with evolving security challenges have been put to the test. The outcomes – an increasing number of refugees, an expanding network of terrorist organisations, some countries’ high dependency on international aid, and a relatively low level of respect for civil liberties around the world – demonstrate an urgent need for reflection and adaptation.

Religious pluralism in Indonesia: Harmonious traditions face challenges

19-05-2016

A mosaic of cultures, languages and religions, Indonesia shares not only the EU's motto (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, Unity in Diversity), but also many of its values, such as tolerance, pluralism and, since the 1998 downfall of former dictator Suharto, also democracy. With many other Muslim-majority states torn by conflicts and persecution of religious minorities, Indonesia stands out as an example of a country where different faiths are able to co-exist harmoniously. Despite this globally positive picture ...

A mosaic of cultures, languages and religions, Indonesia shares not only the EU's motto (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, Unity in Diversity), but also many of its values, such as tolerance, pluralism and, since the 1998 downfall of former dictator Suharto, also democracy. With many other Muslim-majority states torn by conflicts and persecution of religious minorities, Indonesia stands out as an example of a country where different faiths are able to co-exist harmoniously. Despite this globally positive picture, there are some concerns about religious freedoms in the country. It is true that the rights of the largest minorities, such as the Christians and Hindus, are enshrined in primary and secondary legislation. On the other hand, blasphemy laws have been used to repress smaller minorities, and some recently adopted legislation reflects Islamic values. The wave of intercommunal violence which broke out after Suharto's downfall has since subsided, but occasional attacks continue against certain minorities such as Shia and Ahmadi Muslims. While the number of such incidents is very low for a country of Indonesia's size, they point to wider underlying intolerance. Over the years, the Indonesian authorities have not done enough to promote religious pluralism, sometimes showing bias against minorities. New president Joko Widodo made tolerance one of his priorities, and since he took office in 2014 his government has made some encouraging gestures. However, there are as yet no signs of real change on the ground.

Iran in Syria: Deal-maker or deal-breaker?

15-01-2016

Since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, Iran has been a steadfast supporter of Bashar al-Assad's regime, and ensuring its survival is Iran's primary objective. This is unsurprising, given that Tehran needs a friendly regime in Damascus to protect its strategic interests in the region. At the same time, there is an expectation of more constructive engagement from Iran following the signature of the nuclear deal with E3/EU+3 countries.

Since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, Iran has been a steadfast supporter of Bashar al-Assad's regime, and ensuring its survival is Iran's primary objective. This is unsurprising, given that Tehran needs a friendly regime in Damascus to protect its strategic interests in the region. At the same time, there is an expectation of more constructive engagement from Iran following the signature of the nuclear deal with E3/EU+3 countries.

Iran-Saudi Arabia relations: Figuring out the next move

11-01-2016

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia – two powerhouses and major rivals of the Muslim world – have always been complicated. The 1979 Revolution in Iran, and the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), have contributed to entrenching their historical antagonisms and left an imprint in the foreign policies of both Iran and Saudi Arabia. Since 2011, Tehran and Riyadh have repeatedly exchanged blows, including through their proxies in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Iran has also often been accused of interfering in the ...

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia – two powerhouses and major rivals of the Muslim world – have always been complicated. The 1979 Revolution in Iran, and the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), have contributed to entrenching their historical antagonisms and left an imprint in the foreign policies of both Iran and Saudi Arabia. Since 2011, Tehran and Riyadh have repeatedly exchanged blows, including through their proxies in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Iran has also often been accused of interfering in the internal affairs of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Gulf countries with significant Shiite minorities. Iran, on the other hand, has accused Saudi Arabia of promoting anti Shiite policies and practices. Both sides have also resorted to downgrading or suspending diplomatic ties in the past – as was the case of Iran and Saudi Arabia in 1988, and Iran and Bahrain in 2011 and 2015. In that sense, the recent decision by Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf countries to cut or downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran does not represent a radical change in their bilateral relations but is nonetheless worrying given growing sectarian problems in the region. The escalation of the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia – only a few weeks after the two countries sat for the first time at the same table to discuss the conflict in Syria – comes at a particularly sensitive moment. Implementation of the carefully brokered diplomatic undertakings of the past few months – in particular the nuclear deal with Iran and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) on Syria – depend on good relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Therefore, diplomatic efforts to find a means to help de-escalate the conflict and present all sides with a face-saving option will remain the main challenge for the coming months.

Understanding the branches of Islam: Shia Islam

11-01-2016

Islam is based on a number of shared fundamental beliefs and practices. Nonetheless, over time leadership disputes within the Muslim community have resulted in the formation of different branches of the Islamic faith, which have ultimately resulted in the development of distinct religious identities within Islam. Despite many shared religious and cultural connections, these branches differ from each other in their interpretations of certain aspects of the faith, in their view on Islamic history, ...

Islam is based on a number of shared fundamental beliefs and practices. Nonetheless, over time leadership disputes within the Muslim community have resulted in the formation of different branches of the Islamic faith, which have ultimately resulted in the development of distinct religious identities within Islam. Despite many shared religious and cultural connections, these branches differ from each other in their interpretations of certain aspects of the faith, in their view on Islamic history, or their conceptions of leadership. Followers of Shia Islam – a minority in the world's total Muslim population – believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib and his descendants are the only legitimate successors to the Prophet Muhammad. This view, however, has not spared Shiite Muslims from disagreements over the leadership, which eventually led to the emergence of numerous communities. Understanding their origins and religious foundations – in particular in relation to the much larger Sunni branch – may prove essential for a better comprehension of developments in Syria, or regional rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The EU institutions and dialogue with non-confessional organisations

09-11-2015

The European institutions hold dialogue sessions every year with churches and non-confessional and philosophical organisations. Based on Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFUE) the dialogue focuses on issues upon the European agenda.

The European institutions hold dialogue sessions every year with churches and non-confessional and philosophical organisations. Based on Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFUE) the dialogue focuses on issues upon the European agenda.

Myanmar/Burma: Ethnic conflict threatens unity

22-10-2015

Myanmar/Burma faces no major external security threats; it enjoys friendly relations with its neighbours, all of which, like it, are signatories of ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Internal threats are more serious, with the country racked by long-running ethnic insurgencies. Over the past few years, most of the rebels have signed ceasefires but a final peace accord remains elusive. Recent years have also seen mob violence targeting the country's Muslim minority. Resolving these issues is ...

Myanmar/Burma faces no major external security threats; it enjoys friendly relations with its neighbours, all of which, like it, are signatories of ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Internal threats are more serious, with the country racked by long-running ethnic insurgencies. Over the past few years, most of the rebels have signed ceasefires but a final peace accord remains elusive. Recent years have also seen mob violence targeting the country's Muslim minority. Resolving these issues is of crucial importance for the country's democratic transition.

Avvenimenti fil-ġejjieni

01-10-2019
Health threats from climate change: Scientific evidence for policy-making
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