The project

 
 

SCIENTIFIC PRESENTATION

The project studies the religious preferences of MEPs and the impact of these preferences on their political behavior.

The interactions between religion and politics in the process of European integration have attracted an increasing attention in political and academic debates. However, the emerging scholarship deals mainly with the representation of religious interests through lobbying and institutional dialogue with the European Commission. The influence of actors and religious networks within the European Parliament creates many suppositions, ambitions or fears but remains a blind spot in terms of research. Studying the preferences and practices of European legislators casts a new light on the actual effects of religion on European governance.

Besides, RelEP provides useful information on the socializing capacities of the European Parliament vis-à-vis its members. The role of religion in party/group loyalty and divisions is observed.

Finally, religion is tackled as a policy issue that has gained salience on the European agenda in different domains:  security; counter-radicalization; fight against discrimination; ethical and moral issues; geopolitical stakes; etc

<h3>SCIENTIFIC PRESENTATION</h3>
 

The questionnaire is divided into three sections.

1 – Religious beliefs and political affiliations

The aim is to discover the interactions between the normative positions of the MEPS and their political and social affiliations (partisan; national; existing/new Member State; seniority and type of career in the European Parliament; generation; style; etc.). Information is also being collected on socialization/mobilization structures (inter-groups and working groups, think tanks, etc.).  Here you can consult the privacy notice for the Survey participants. 

2 – Religious beliefs and political choices

This section of the survey looks at the causal relationship between beliefs and political practice. The questionnaire can be completed by other data: public declarations of MEPs; votes; oral and written questions; reports and other indicators of commitment). Sources may be the institutional documentation of the EP; MEPs’ website and social networks; media databases, etc.

3 – Religious beliefs and moral values of the MEPs

This section measures the correlation between the religious beliefs and the values of MEPs, in particular their level of cultural liberalism. Questions are taken from international values surveys to allow a comparison between MEPs, other political elites and the average citizens. National surveys can be used to refine the picture.

 

Methods

The core data is collected by an on-line questionnaire, phone interviews and face-to-face interviews. In-depth interviews are made with particularly representative MEPs.

The results will first be interpreted on a national basis, as national affiliation remains the most discriminating variable. Each team will then put the data in context, focusing on two elements:

1/ the general relevance of religion in the national debate on Europe, more specifically in relation to several key problems (morality issues, especially gender issues; security and counter-radicalization; identity politics, especially narratives on ‘Christian Europe’; foreign policy; religion during the coronavirus crisis)

2/ the comparison with the usual place of religion in domestic political life. On this point, the attitudes of MEPS towards religion can be contrasted with the attitudes of national political elites as described by the existing state-of-the-art

Indicative timetable

– Empirical work: to be completed in June 2021

– Final conference in Brussels: Fall 2021

– Publications and dissemination: First trimester of 2022

<h3>Methods</h3>
 

The First Wave

The first Wave of RelEP investigated the religious preferences of the Members of the European Parliament serving in the seventh term (2009–2014).

If you want to have more insight of the research, the following publications provide a general overview of the introduction, conclusion and synthesis of the findings of the first wave:

Introduction

Foret, François (2014). ‘Religion at the European Parliament’: purposes, scope and limits of a survey on the religious beliefs of MEPs. Religion, State and Society. 42. 108-129. 10.1080/09637494.2014.950909.

Synthesis

Foret, François. (2014). Religion at the European Parliament: An overview. Religion State and Society. 42. 10.1080/09637494.2014.951529.

Foret, François. (2014). Religion at the European Parliament.Conclusion. Religion. 42. 10.1080/09637494.2014.967532. 

<h3>The First Wave</h3>