With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for religious minorities.
It is the fundamental right of everyone in the EU to practise the religion of their choice and express their religious beliefs freely. Many EU citizens exercise this right and there are a great many different religious communities in the EU. As a member of a religious minority, however, you might have concerns over how this could impact your daily life.
Founded on the fundamental value of respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities, EU law explicitly prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of religion or belief in the fields of employment and occupation, vocational training, or membership of employer and employee organisations. This means that you should not be treated less favourably or be put at a disadvantage because of your religion or beliefs. If you feel that your rights under this law have been violated, the EU has also established mechanisms to make it easier for you to seek justice: EU countries are obliged to ensure that judicial and administrative procedures are available to anyone who needs them. EU law also makes it easier for you to bring your case to court.
Incitement to discrimination or hatred, including online hate speech, is prohibited under EU law and the EU has ensured that in all EU countries offences against people based on religion are punishable under criminal law and that victims of crime have a certain standard of rights.
The EU also funds projects to help minorities, collects field data, and helps EU countries to exchange best practice.
- European Commission, website on combating racism and xenophobia, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/racism-and-xenophobia_en
- EPRS publication on EU measures against discrimination, 2017, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2017/603887/EPRS_ATA(2017)603887_EN.pdf
- Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/LSU/?uri=CELEX:32000L0078