Dialogue with churches, religious associations and communities and philosophical and non-confessional organisations

Established in the beginning of the 1990s by EU Commission President Jacques Delors the dialogue with churches and communities of convictions offers an opportunity to engage in the European integration process. It allows for an open exchange of views on pertinent EU policies between EU institutions and important parts of European society. The Lisbon Treaty (Article 17 TFEU) has lifted the dialogue from good practice to a legal obligation, enshrined in primary law.

The responsible Adviser for the dialogue between European institutions and churches, religious associations or communities as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations is Ms Katharina von Schnurbein .

Legal basis for the dialogue

The Treaty of Lisbon explicitly introduces the idea of a dialogue between European institutions and churches, religious associations and communities as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations (Article 17 TFEU).

1. "The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.

2. The Union equally respects the status under national law of philosophical and non-confessional organisations.

3. Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations."

An open, transparent and regular dialogue

Article 17 (3) TFEU provides for an open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches, religious communities as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations.

a. "open": all relevant topics of the EU agenda can be addressed in this dialogue that is of horizontal nature and commonly agreed. Dialogue partners can be churches, religious communities and philosophical and non-confessional organisations that are recognized as such at national level and adhere to European values.

b."transparent": the EU institutions commit themselves to convey to the public all relevant information about this dialogue; one concrete sign of this is the fact that a press conference is held after high level meetings with the Presidents. Beyond the high-level meetings this website offers detailed information about other activities of the dialogue.

c."regular": The European Commission maintains an ongoing dialogue with its partners at various levels, in the form of bilateral meetings or specific events. It has become good practice to organise once a year two separate informal meetings hosted by the President of the Commission and co-chaired by the Presidents of the European Parliament and of the European Council, with high level representatives of religious communities and associations as well as representatives of philosophical and non-confessional organisations, usually on the same topic.

Background

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked a turning point in European history. The then EU Commission President Jacques Delors (in office 1985-1994), was well aware of the challenges ahead. These included the prospect of EU enlargement and the construction of a political union that would match the ambitions of the economic and later monetary union.

The starting point was talking to representatives of organisations active in the fields of science, culture and religion. The aim was to exchange ideas about the meaning and implications of the European integration process. Consequently, the EU Commission introduced a regular dialogue with religions, churches and communities of conviction. Delors' successors, Jacques Santer, Romano Prodi, as well as the current President, José Manuel Barroso, have kept the tradition and developed it further, regarding it as an important instrument of participatory democracy.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the enclosed documents do not necessarily reflect those of the European Commission

Comisión Europea y religiones 2013

Events 2013

20/06/2013 – Dialogue Seminar on "EU citizenship – challenges and benefits", Brussels

30/05/2013 – High-level Religious Leaders Meeting on "Putting citizens at the heart of the European project in times of change", Brussels

22/05/2013 – Message of President Barroso at the occasion of the presentation of the "2013 Lord Jakobovits Prize for European Jewry" to H.E. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Read the message pdf - 179 KB [179 KB]

15/05/2013 – Dialogue Seminar on "The Rise of Populism in Europe: in search of a strong EU action", Brussels

Organised by BEPA together with the European Humanist Federation (EHF) and the Grande Loge Féminine de France (GLFF)

22/04/2013 – Colloque "Developing a Citizens' Europe", Brussels

Organised by BEPA together with the European Association of Free Thought (AEFT) and Association EGALE (Egalité Laïcité Europe)

13/03/2013 – Joint message of congratulations by President Barroso and President Van Rompuy, to the newly elected Pope and Head of the Vatican State, his Holiness Francis

Read the message

Barroso con Bergoglio

11/02/2013 – Statement by President Barroso on the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI

Read the statement

Events 2012

14/12/2012 – Dialogue Seminar "European Social Market Economy", Brussels

Organised by BEPA, the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

27/11/2012 – High-level meeting with representatives of philosophical and non-nonfessional organisations on "Intergenerational Solidarity: Setting the Parameters for Tomorrow's Society in Europe", Brussels

17/10/2012 – Dialogue Seminar "Promoting Solidarity in the current Economic Crisis: The contribution of the Orthodox Church to European Social Policy", Brussels

Organised by BEPA and CROCEU

26/09/2012 – Dialogue Seminar "Towards an Intergenerational Solidarity in Europe", Brussels

Organised by BEPA and COMALACE

18/09/2012 – President José Manuel BARROSO meets with three Patriarchs from the Greek Orthodox Church, Brussels

12/07/2012 – High-level Religious Leaders Meeting on "Intergenerational Solidarity: Setting the parameters for Tomorrow's Society in Europe", Brussels

23/04/2012 – Dialogue Seminar "A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity: a common desire to promote democratic rights and freedoms in the countries of the southern Mediterranean ", Brussels

Organized by BEPA and the European Association of Free Thought (EAFT)

30/03/2012 – Dialogue Seminar "Freedom of Religion: A Fundamental Right in a Rapidly Changing World", Brussels

Organised by BEPA, the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

Events 2011

30/11/2011 – Meeting with Philosophical and Non-Confessional Organisations

12/07/2011 – Dialogue Seminar on "Youth, Education, Culture"

Organised by BEPA and COMALACE (Contribution des obédiences maçonniques libérales et adogmatiques à la construction européenne).

27/06/2011 – Dialogue Seminar on "Roma inclusion: a need, a challenge and a duty"

Organised by BEPA, the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

30/05/2011 – High Religious Leaders Meeting

Events 2010

06/12/2010 – Lunch with the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding

15/10/2010 – Meeting with philosophical and non-confessional organisations

"It was a unique occasion when the three European presidents could listen to such eminent representatives of different organisations."

19 July 2010

Meeting with religious leaders

09 July 2010

Dialogue seminar on combating poverty and social exclusion in the framework of the EU 2020 Strategy

Events 2009

18 November 2009

Dialogue Seminar with Eurodiaconia on “More in Need and More Needed: Diaconia and social inclusion in times of crisis”

14 October 2009

President Barroso participates in the Ceremony of opening of the Brussels Office of the European Jewish Congress

6 September 2009

President Barroso addresses the "International Meeting for Peace, Faiths and Cultures" of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Krakow, Poland

26 June 2009

President Barroso meets philosophical and non-confessional organisations. President Hans-Gert Pöttering co-chaired the meeting

17 June 2009

Dialogue Seminar with the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Communities (COMECE) on “Towards an ethical debate – climate change as a challenge for lifestyles, solidarity and global justice”

11 May 2009

President Barroso meets leading dignitaries of the three monotheistic religions. President Hans-Gert Pöttering co-chaired the meeting

28 April 2009

Debriefing on the Commission efforts to better explain Europe to the citizens

28 January 2009

Debriefing on the Commission's Legislative Work Programme for 2009

Events before 2009

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