A dialogue seminar on the future of EU’s external policies took place in Brussels on 6 December 2017, bringing together officials and religious leaders from throughout Europe and beyond. The meeting took place in the framework of the regular dialogue between EU institutions and religious leaders, as foreseen in the primary law of the Union.
Hosted by Mr. Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, and Mrs. Mairead McGuinness, Vice-President responsible for dialogue with religious communities, the seminar was attended by religious leaders, high European officials and many others working, at various levels and in various ways, for the promotion and defence of religious freedom throughout the world. The Christian Orthodox voice was made heard at this meeting by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Vice-President of the Representation of the Romanian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions.
Present at the meeting, Mr. Jan Figel, EU’s Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union, offered an overview on the status quo in this field around the world. Other participants emphasised that religion becomes increasingly more present in European societies, which makes a solid and balanced religious education an obvious necessity for every country.
The need that religious freedom would be placed higher on the agenda of EU institutions was repeatedly expressed, especially when it comes to relation within Europe’s vicinity. The difficult situation of religious minorities in the Middle East was particularly pointed at, as the very survival of Christianity in that area is under threat, following years of systematic persecution.