Written by Magdalena Pasikowska-Schnass (updated on 09.06.2023).
The EU institutions engage in regular structured dialogue with representatives of churches, and religious, non-confessional and philosophical organisations, on the basis of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
This dialogue, which takes the form of high-level meetings or working-level discussions, is focused on policy issues on the European agenda. It traces its origins to earlier initiatives, such as that launched in 1994 by Jacques Delors – ‘A soul for Europe’ – which aimed to find ways to build an ethical, moral and spiritual dimension into European integration and policy-shaping. The draft Constitutional Treaty of 2004 included provisions on regular, open and transparent dialogue between EU institutions, and representatives of churches and religious communities, and of non-confessional or philosophical communities. Although the Constitutional Treaty was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands, its successor, the Lisbon Treaty, adopted in 2007 and in force since December 2009, preserved the same provisions in its Article 17 TFEU.
The European Parliament has long stressed the importance of constant dialogue among, and with, religious and non-confessional and philosophical communities. Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, it sought to give substance to the provisions of Article 17 TFEU, primarily by organising dialogue on subjects of interest for the EU and its citizens. The European Commission and the Council are also bound by Article 17 TFEU provisions.
This is a further updated version of a briefing first published in 2018. The previous edition was issued in April 2022.
Read the complete briefing on ‘Article 17 TFEU: Dialogue with churches, and religious and philosophical organisations‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.