The right to religious freedom and the guarantee of a religious and cultural pluralism are indispensable conditions for the formation and promotion of sustainable and inclusive societies, where all diversities contribute to the realization of the well-being of individuals and communities and to the fight against inequalities (European Union Framework Program for Research and Innovation 2021-2027, clusters 2 and 3). The research aims to investigate: 1. the connection between public order and the right to religious freedom both at the national level and within European legal spaces; 2. the content of national public orders as limits to the recognition of religious practices; 3. the role of religious communities in the definition of domestic and European public orders; 4. the peculiarities of religious freedom in the framework of Article 2 TEU.

The research will try to understand to what extent and in which ways the right to religious freedom and the principle of public order affect the current relationship between national constitutional traditions and European constitutional identity. A particular attention will be devoted to the pluralistic principle. Moreover, if the legal space of the European Union represents the natural and primary field of inquiry, the project will pay close attention also to the role of the European Convention on Human Rights and its jurisdiction. This latter has a twofold influence on the EU: through the direct effect of the membership of the EU Member States and through the mediated effect of the Union’s own membership to the Convention. Moreover, the increasing politicization of the right to religious freedom, which has become more and more central to the policies of managing religious and cultural pluralism in Europe, reveals the following phenomenon: this right has paradoxically become an opportunity for the re-proposition of nationalist theories and practices of public policy, often in conflict with pluralism and, ultimately, with the universalist constitutional identity promoted by European institutions.

An unresolved tension between the national and European levels triggers conflictual processes which are in contradiction with the social cohesion and the sustainability goals pursued by the different levels of government. This is especially the case when, at the national level, the reference to public order becomes the instrument for legitimizing restrictive disciplines of the right to religious freedom in contradiction with its full recognition as a fundamental right. The research will also provide close scrutiny to the role of religious communities both in the definition of pluralist public spaces and in the conflicts raised by their demands for recognition. In particular, the static or dynamic way in which religious communities relate to their normativity in order to identify and manifest their needs has great significance in the management of possible conflicts.

Principal Investigator: prof. Alessandro Ferrari (University of Insubria)

Local Units: prof. Andrea Pisaneschi (University of Siena), prof. Natascia Marchei (University of  Milan-Bicocca); prof. Daniela Milani (University of Milan)