21 October 2022: On 19 October 2022 the European Parliament adopted a report on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2023. The report includes two worrying amendments (read them here and here) which claim that, through its grants, the European Commission is financing campaigns promoting the hijab and radical religious and political organisations, and call on the European Commission “to impose to the beneficiary organisations of the CERV programme the signature of a Charter committing them to respect those values before making funds available”.
This proposal, tabled by Renew MEPs mostly from France, makes negative presumptions about civil society organisations in general, and those working for Muslim rights in particular. It echoes a similar legislative measure recently introduced in France in the framework of the law “on the respect of the republican principles”, known as the “Separatism bill” (see here our recent alert on the matter).
Project proposals for EU funding are assessed by the European Commission and approved on the basis of eligibility and selection criteria. It is important to note that contracts for CERV, one of the major funding schemes for civil society in the EU, already have a binding section on ethics and values (such as human dignity, the rule of law and human rights) that beneficiary organisations must respect, failing which they could face reduced or withdrawn grants, or administrative sanctions.
These amendments resonate with the attempt made last year by France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin to persuade the European Commission to withdraw the funding of an EU project application granted to a French organisation working with Muslim women.
It is deeply concerning that the dangerous practices we deplored in France are now spreading to the EU level thanks to the endorsement by the European Parliament of these amendments.
We remain on the alert for further developments.