Project

How the EU deals with religion in and out (SeculEUR)

Goal: Importer Dieu, exporter la laïcité? Comment l'UE traite la religion comme problème politique/Importing God, exporting secularism? How the European Union deals with religion (SeculEUR) (2014-2017
The European Union is commonly presented as an exceptionally “godless” part of a world
where religion still matters very much. However, under external pressures

(from diplomatic crises to migrations), the EU would have to take religion back in by entering a post-secular era.
The project aims at discussing these assumptions. The purpose is to see whether the resurgence of religion on the European agenda is internally- or externally-driven, what are its incentives and outcomes. Three working packages investigate the notion of European secularism; and how this European secularism is challenged from outside and within two EU
policy sectors, foreign affairs and immigration.

Funded by Belgian FNRS, PDR T016014F

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Project log

François Foret
added a research item
Dijver 11 | BE-8000 Bruges, Belgium | Tel. +32 (0)50 477 251 | Fax +32 (0)50 477 250 | E-mail ird.info@coleurope.eu | www.coleurope.eu/ird Views expressed in the EU Diplomacy Papers are those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect positions of either the series editors or the College of Europe. Abstract The purpose of this paper is to understand why and how the European External Action Service (EEAS) has developed a specific approach towards religion, an approach characterised by the focus on freedom of religion and belief (FoRB). The research question is to assess the level of autonomy and distinctiveness of religion as a policy issue. The European diplomatic strategy on religion reflects geopolitical and societal changes at the global scale. It is also an effort of the EEAS to assert itself as a political player and to reinforce the profile of the European Union (EU) in international relations. In practice, the handling of religion is framed by the usual EU policy-making: ideational incentives (advocacy for FoRB, display of European unity and identity) matter but are secondary to realist ones (interests and security concerns); the risk-averse culture of diplomats and European bureaucracies leads them to defer to the states and to prioritise a legal approach to religion. This paper draws on academic and institutional literature; the analysis of the adoption and implementation of the 2013 EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief; an online survey of EU Delegations around the world; and interviews with national and European officials.
François Foret
added a project goal
Importer Dieu, exporter la laïcité? Comment l'UE traite la religion comme problème politique/Importing God, exporting secularism? How the European Union deals with religion (SeculEUR) (2014-2017
The European Union is commonly presented as an exceptionally “godless” part of a world
where religion still matters very much. However, under external pressures
(from diplomatic crises to migrations), the EU would have to take religion back in by entering a post-secular era.
The project aims at discussing these assumptions. The purpose is to see whether the resurgence of religion on the European agenda is internally- or externally-driven, what are its incentives and outcomes. Three working packages investigate the notion of European secularism; and how this European secularism is challenged from outside and within two EU
policy sectors, foreign affairs and immigration.
Funded by Belgian FNRS, PDR T016014F