The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 states. While its precursors were purely based on economic concerns, it has developed into a Union for the promotion of peace, democracy and human rights in Europe.
Freedom of conscience and freedom of expression are protected in the European Convention on Human Rights:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Linguistic rights are protected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union:
1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
PEN at the EU
In May 2012, PEN Tunisia published Fleeting Words: An Anthology of the Revolution, a compilation of articles, prose and verse documenting the rise and aftermath of the Tunisian revolution. The anthology was part of the International Freedom of Expression Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG), of which International PEN is a member. IFEX-TMG was partially supported by the European Union.
The Culture Programme of the European Union also partially supports International PEN’s Free the Word! literary events and festivals. Read more about Free the Word! here.
PEN Congress has lobbied the EU by passing resolutions on human rights matters, including on the rights of Roma people in Europe. Access the resolution here.