Answer given by Mr Schinas
on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission has decided on 7 December 2022 to appoint Frans van Daele, a Belgian national, as Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. Mr van Daele will be attached to Vice-President Schinas, who is in charge of leading the dialogue with churches, religious associations or communities, philosophical and nonconfessional organisations within College.
The decision to establish a position of Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU demonstrates the Commission’s commitment to ensuring that the rights of all faiths and beliefs are respected at a time when freedom of religion or belief is under attack in many parts of the world.
The Special Envoy will encourage cooperation with national authorities and other stakeholders in countries suffering from discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. He will support intercultural and interreligious dialogue, including between representatives of different faiths and the setting up of joint initiatives and on the prevention of extremism on grounds of religion or belief in third countries. In cooperation with authorities from third countries, he will promote religious diversity and tolerance within educational programmes and curricula.
The Special Envoy will coordinate all activities within this mandate closely with the EU Special Representative on Human Rights, as part of the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief which feature among the priorities of the external agenda of the EU on human rights, in line with the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2020-2024)1 and the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief2.