Religion and the EU: A Commitment under Stress

Simona Guerra

In the 1980s, European Commission President Jacques Delors started a dialogue with religious communities in Brussels. His plan to hold a regular dialogue with religious groups, churches and communities of conviction was introduced in Declaration No. 11 of the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997). Later, it was further developed with the White Paper on European Governance (2001) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (2001), where Article 10 lays down that 'churches and religious communities have a particular contribution to make'. Article 17 of the Treaty of Lisbon (2009) provides for an 'open, transparent and regular dialogue'. This paper presents an analysis of the religious discourse and actors within the European Union (EU) institutions and how Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Islam institutionally relate to the EU. An in-depth analysis of faith-based organizations in Brussels, as COMECE (Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community) and Pax-Christi International, and interviews with representatives of the religious communities, officers and MEPs, show evidence that some transnational religious organizations are able to establish preferential channels with EU institutions. The paper goes on to detail when and how several cases of Eurosceptic narratives towards the process of EU integration emerging through this dialogue.

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