Dissertation: EU Law and Religion - A Study of How the Court of Justice has Adjudicated on Religious Matters in Union Law

  • Date:
  • Location: Zoom You will be able to follow the defence through Zoom with following link: https://uu-se.zoom.us/j/61078011196 Passcode: 667327
  • Doctoral student: Emma Ahlm
  • Organiser: Department of Law
  • Contact person: Estelle Lerceteau-Köhler
  • Disputation

Emma Ahlm defends her thesis in European Law

Opponent: Prof Lucy Vickers, Oxford Brookes, UK
Chairperson of the public defence: Prof Petra Hertzfeld Olsson, Stockholm University

The defence will be held in English through Zoom

The public is offered also the opportunity to also take part in the dissertation at Dag Hammarskjöld and the Law Library as well as at Carolina Rediviva.

Abstract – “EU Law and Religion – A Study of How the Court of Justice has Adjudicated on Religious Matters in Union Law”

This study has caught a legal development in the making. The Court of Justice has, over the last ten years, developed a body of case law relating to religious matters in connection to EU law which spans a wide range of subject areas; non-discrimination law, data protection, state aid, animal welfare and slaughter rules. Starting with the idea of religious territoriality and the principle of cuius regio eius religio (the ruler decides the religion of his territory) emanating from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the study focuses on the relationship between the European Union and the Member States concerning religious issues. Historically, religion in Europe had strong ties to the nation state. The European Court of Human Rights has, in its interpretation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, upheld European supervision of religious freedom in the contracting states. However, due to the lack of European consensus concerning the relationship between state and religion, the Court of Human Rights has left a considerable margin of appreciation to the state. The question this study sets out to answer is whether the Court of Justice has left a similar margin of discretion to the Member States in its adjudication on religious matters. Furthermore, by analysing the legal development over the last ten years, one can discern an EU law on religion which is independent from the Court of Human Rights and, from the Member States.

An “EU law on Religion” includes the general principle of religious equality – in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights – and religious freedom – in article 10 of the same Charter, applied in a uniform way, but also limits of the secular jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, and the principles of subsidiarity and neutrality. Although the Union has limited competence in legislating on religious matters in the Member States, it does not hinder Union law from impacting the Member States, since they must organize their relationship to religious matters in conformity with Union law. What is more, even though Article 17(1) TFEU states that the Union shall respect the status of religious organizations under national law, this Treaty article has not been interpreted by the Court of Justice as safeguarding the traditions of the Member States. In contrast, this study advances an understanding of Union law greatly relevant to religion in the Member States.