Mandate of the Special Envoy for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU

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Dear President von der Leyen, Dear Vice-President Schinas,

We, the undersigned Members of the European Parliament, write to welcome your decision in July of this year to renew the mandate of the Special Envoy for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. Taking note that the EU has not had a Special Envoy for almost one year, we urge you to renew the position as soon as possible

The Pew Research Center’s study on global restrictions on religion found that in 2017, 83 countries experienced high or very high levels of restrictions. Moreover, persecution based on religion and belief is contributing to the migration crisis and related security challenges which threaten the EU. Promoting freedom of religion and belief, therefore, is not only in line with the values which guide EU external action, it is also essential in strengthening our role in addressing global challenges.

The appointment of a Special Envoy holding a permanent mandate focused primarily on freedom of religion or belief, with a multi-year term, full-time staff, and increased funding would send out the message that the EU is committed to protecting everywhere the victims of violence and persecution because of their religion or belief. 

On numerous occasions, the European Parliament called for a stronger EU role in promoting freedom of religion or belief. In this spirit, and considering the commitments in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, we recommend that the Special Envoy’s mandate is strengthened while remaining focused specifically on protecting freedom of religion or belief, since the targeted attacks on this freedom in recent years have proven the necessity of both a more targeted and urgent response. This is in line with the intent of the European Parliament, as expressed in the Resolution of 4 February 2016 on the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’, and the Report on EU Guidelines and the mandate of the EU Special Envoy, adopted by the European Parliament on 16 January 2019 with overwhelming support. 

We thank you for your commitment to working to protect this fundamental right and look forward to working with you and the Special Envoy in furthering the protection of freedom of religion and belief. 

Yours sincerely,

Miriam Lexmann MEP (Slovakia)Antonio Tajani MEP (Italy)
Željana Zovko MEP (Croatia)Anna Fotyga MEP (Poland)
György Hölvény MEP (Hungary)Lukas Mandl MEP (Austria)
François-Xavier Bellamy (France)Antonio López-Istúriz White (Spain)
Milan Zver MEP (Slovenia)Liudas Mažylis MEP (Lithuania)
Ausra Maldeikienė MEP (Lithuania)Jorge Buxadé Villalba MEP (Spain)
Isabel Benjumea  MEP (Spain)Salvatore De Meo MEP (Italy)
Karlo Ressler MEP (Croatia)Ádám Kósa MEP (Hungary)
Balázs Hidvéghi MEP (Hungary)Edina Tóth MEP (Hungary)
Andrea Bocskor MEP (Hungary)Peter van Dalen MEP (Netherlands)
Ivan Štefanec MEP (Slovakia)Rasa Juknevičienė MEP (Lithuania)
Radan Kanev (Bulgaria)Romana Tomc MEP (Slovenia)
Leopoldo López Gil MEP (Spain)Bert-Jan Ruissen MEP (Netherlands)
Rainer Wieland MEP (Germany)Markus Ferber MEP (Germany)
Loránt Vincze MEP (Romania)Eugen Jurzyca MEP (Slovakia) 
Tomislav Sokol MEP (Croatia)Emmanouil Fragkos MEP (Greece)
Ryszard Legutko MEP (Poland)Hermann Tertsch MEP (Spain)
Tomáš Zdechovský MEP (Czechia)Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez (Spain)
Michael Gahler MEP (Germany)Anne Sander MEP (France)
David Lega MEP (Sweden)Charlie Weimers MEP (Sweden)
Roberta Metsola MEP (Malta)Peter Pollák MEP (Slovakia)
Izabela Kloc MEP (Poland)Elzbieta Kruk MEP (Poland) 
Helmut Geuking MEP (Germany)Cristian Terhes MEP (Romania)
Margarita de la Pisa Carrión MEP (Spain)Dominik Tarczynski (Poland)

Photo: Unsplash.com

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