EHF stands firm in response to Commission’s reply to Ombudsman
The EHF has written to the Ombudsman with firm comments on the EU Commission’s response to our complaint about their approach to the Article 17 dialogue with us and in particular their treatment of our request for a dialogue seminar.
Our covering letter is here. It attaches our detailed comments, which have three enclosures: a letter from BEPA to the EHF dated 16 November 2011; an email from BEPA to the EHFdated 5 May 2011 and a letter from the EHF to BEPA dated 28 January 2008.
In our comments we point out that the discrimination against us has been reinforced even since our complaint to the Ombudsman was made:
The Commission claims that dialogue seminars are meant to address wider issues. In an email to the EHF dated 5 May 2011, the Commission said that “dialogue meetings focus exclusively on Commission policy initiatives” . . . and that “a dialogue seminar on freedom of religion and of belief is not appropriate”.
Yet on 30 March 2012 the Commission held a full-day dialogue seminar with the churches on “Freedom of Religion: A Fundamental Right in a Rapidly Changing World”. That meeting was addressed by the Director General of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, the Director of Equality at DG Justice, the Deputy Head of the Division of Human Rights Policy Instruments and Bilateral Cooperation, and the Head of the Equality and Citizen’s Rights Unit at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. Only one session during the Seminar addressed matters outside the EU: the major part of the programme was on exactly the subject that we had been refused. What is more, the Director General of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers actually said at the dialogue seminar “Le thème du séminaire d’aujourd’hui “La liberté de religion: un droit fondamental dans un monde en mutation rapide” est très pertinent” [The theme of today's seminar, "Freedom of Religion: A Fundamental Right in a Rapidly Changing World", is particularly pertinent].
It appears, therefore, that the Commission was indeed discriminating against the EHF: whilst the churches were offered a full-day dialogue seminar with high-ranking officials to put their case for freedom of religion, the EHF was offered a mere one hour and a half low-level meeting to make representations about the risk that freedom of religion or belief might clash with other human rights. It is most worrying to note that the Commission’s discriminatory policy is ongoing despite the EHF’s complaint to your office.
For the EHF’s complaint, see here .
For the Ombudsman’s request for comments from the Commission, see here.
For the Commission response to the Ombudsman’s questions, see here.
This content last updated 12 December 2012 @ 2:21 pm