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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.

Turkey: 2018 country report

06-03-2019

In March 2019, the European Parliament is due to vote on a motion for a resolution on Turkey's 2018 country report. Both the Commission's report and that of the Foreign Affairs Committee point to backsliding in key areas. The Foreign Affairs Committee calls for improvement, and for the suspension of accession negotiations.

In March 2019, the European Parliament is due to vote on a motion for a resolution on Turkey's 2018 country report. Both the Commission's report and that of the Foreign Affairs Committee point to backsliding in key areas. The Foreign Affairs Committee calls for improvement, and for the suspension of accession negotiations.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: 2018 country report

07-02-2019

In 2018, Bosnia and Herzegovina made little progress on the road to accession. In the four areas of rule of law, fundamental rights, public administration and economic development, reforms have yet to be implemented. During its February plenary session, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 country report on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In 2018, Bosnia and Herzegovina made little progress on the road to accession. In the four areas of rule of law, fundamental rights, public administration and economic development, reforms have yet to be implemented. During its February plenary session, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 country report on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Supporting Holocaust survivors

24-01-2019

Between 1933 and 1945, millions of Europeans suffered from Nazi crimes and the Holocaust. Today, the remaining survivors often live in difficult social conditions.

Between 1933 and 1945, millions of Europeans suffered from Nazi crimes and the Holocaust. Today, the remaining survivors often live in difficult social conditions.

Tulevat tapahtumat

13-11-2019
Understanding EU environment policy: State-of-play and future challenges
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