Demand grows to beef up EU’s religious freedom envoy


Taken from EURACTIV

The fragile status of the EU’s special envoy on religious freedom is an unlikely topic of conjecture in the months leading up to next May’s European elections.

On 6 December, European Parliament members called on the European Commission and EU member states to ‘institutionalise’ the special envoy’s mandate in a report drafted by Polish centre-right MEP Andrzej Grzyb, adopted by the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee.

Jan Figel, a former EU education and culture commissioner, was appointed in May 2016 when the post was created by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and his mandate has since been extended twice for an additional year. Critics say that a one year term is too short to pursue any strategic plan.

In their report, MEPs said that Figel had “developed effective working networks” within the EU institutions and praised him for “continuous engagement and co-operation and complementarity of actions with the EU Special Representative for Human Rights.”

But they added that the Special Envoy’s role needed to be substantially beefed up. The new remit should include extending the Special Envoy’s term to match that of the Commission’s five-year term, and “consolidated with sufficient human and financial resources”.

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