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Session Chair: Oscar Mazzoleni, University of Lausanne
Location:GM.338 Manchester Metropolitan University
Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor
4 Rosamond Street West
Off Oxford Road
Religion, civil society and the European Court of Human Rights
University of Bergamo, Italy
A growing body of literature highlights the increasing role of the Courts in democracy – the ‘judicialization of politics’. On the one hand, the courts jurisprudence has the authority to clarify the status of controversial issues, offering a venue to potentially overcome political veto-players. On the other hand, the EU and its institutions played a significant role in the development and diffusion of the ‘language of rights’ for dealing with politically controversial issues. This is especially relevant for religious-related issues – and some scholars proposed the category of ‘judicialization of religion’ to underline the crucial role of the courts jurisprudence in defining the place and the boundaries of religion in contemporary societies.
In this scenario of judicialization, the European Court of Human Rights is of paramount importance, due to its primacy over the national courts and its specific task of dealing with human rights and non-discrimination. GRASSROOTSMOBILISE project explores the extent to which the ECtHR religious jurisprudence defines the ‘political opportunity structures’ and the discursive frameworks within which citizens act. In this frame, this contribution focuses on both EU-level CSOs and grassroots religious actors, to investigate the indirect effects of the ECtHR. How do religious organizations (and – especially – minority religions) assess the role of the ECtHR? What is the role of the judicial strategy among their repertoires of action? How does it change in light of the right-wing populism wave? Sources include key-witnesses interviews, document and media analysis
The Populist Radical Right, Exclusionary Political Frames and their Impact on EU-level Civil Society
University of Trento, Italy
This article focuses on the reactions of EU-level anti-racist and pro-migrant organizations to a sweeping populist turn in European politics and elsewhere. The recent political climate of organized civil society at EU level has been radically shaped by a sweeping populist turn in European politics in recent years, which has affected the funding priorities, agendas and political discourse of European institutions. This is evidenced for instance in the changing composition of the European Parliament where populist radical right parties made significant advances in the 2014 European elections. This political change has particularly affected inclusionary and anti-discrimination organizations. This article focuses on their reactions and relies on a multi-method approach. Through a set of in-depth interviews with civil society representatives and EU civil servants it documents and analyzes changes in the legitimacy, strategy, funding opportunities, and more generally political opportunities, of these civil society actors.
From Benign Neglect To Threat: The Rise Of Populism And Mobilization On Gender Equality In The European Union.
Maynooth University, Ireland
From benign neglect to threat: The rise of populism and mobilization on gender equality in the European Union.
Pauline Cullen, Maynooth University, Ireland
This paper will explore patterns of transnational mobilization on women’s interests in Europe at a time of increasing populism. Critics of radical right populist movements point to their attack on women’s rights (Emejulu,2016; Fraser,2016). Assessments of gender equality as an EU policy issue have also confirmed its decline as a priority (Elomaki, 2015). Left-wing populism, in turn, has provided little space for women’s interests (Dean, Keith and Maiguashca, 2016). This research explores how transnational women’s rights organisations are responding to populist attacks on gender equality and the relevance of EU level actors, including the European Parliament and Brussels based social justice NGOs as allies in resisting such threats. Social movement analysis of populist movements and threats to civil society, feminist research on the opposition to gender equality and feminist analysis more broadly of European integration inform this analysis and add to our understanding of potential and limits of EU civil society as a site of mobilization against illiberalism and the erosion of progress on gender inequality.
Socio-Economic Changes, the European Parliament and Gender Equality Organisations
Alison E. Woodward, Ahrens Petra
Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Formally organised social equality activism in the European Union receives significant direct and indirect financial support from European institutions. The European Parliament indirectly stimulates gender equality organisations and research by commissioning reports and providing channels for input into policy making through the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM). The financial and economic crises and subsequent austerity measures have often targeted the soft spots of social equality organisations. The European Parliament organisation has been able to provide lifebuoys of financial support in return for vital information from grass roots organisations and professional movement activists in the last ten years. However, the financing of civil society interest organisations and the utilization of their input has come increasingly under fire. The strong turn to the right since the last EP elections, as well as the warning signals from populism in Poland and Hungary, combined with Brexit have meant that the ability of the European Parliament FEMM committee to continue to tap the knowledge of these organisations and reciprocally also support them has come under fire. This paper notes that civil society organisations are less likely to be included in official sessions and consultations in the last legislature. The paper investigates the challenges to the relationships between the FEMM committee and organized gender equality organisations. Research is based on historical documents, interviews with rapporteurs from the FEMM committee and with civil society activist groups and observers.