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Religions and social welfare

Religious NGOs

Several religious NGOs participate in the construction of European civil society through the services they provide their national members and even more so through actions they direct at the general public. These activities include training, informing, networking and integration into action programmes funded by the European Commission.
The offices of these organisations based in Brussels are the network heads and often even network networks. Some are strictly European others make up the European section of a transnational NGO that is present on the international scene, often having consultative status with the Council of Europe or the UN.
There is a strong presence and an advanced integration of German religious NGOs in Brussels, a sign of German churches’ public service-like role in Germany. Their presence in Brussels can be explained, in particular, by their great investment in the countries of the enlargement. At the European Institutions there are even offices representing German NGOs at the Land (state) level.

There is also a large range of organisations in such diverse sectors as development assistance, transmigrations and the fight against racism, education, especially continuing education for adults, youth and women.
These NGOs hold different statuses. There is a status model for the ICO (international Catholic organisations). These organisations do not always have an autonomous status compared to European Church organisations, CEC and COMECE. In the transmigrations domain the Protestant organisation, CCME, is a KEK commission while its Catholic counterpart, the CIDSE, is an autonomous ICO and COMECE has a specific working group on transmigrations.
In these different domains Catholic NGOs often have Protestant counterparts, a situation which encourages ecumenical strategies for action.

All these organisations participate in coordination organisations of non-religious NGOs organised with the support of the European Commission by the public policy sector. They are often behind these platforms, thus showing the enthusiasm and civic involvement of religious NGOs.

To our knowledge there is one Jewish NGO, the European Jewish Information Centre, einvolved in European programmes to fight racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, that participates as such in the NGO ENAR (European Network Against Racism).
There has been an attempt to regroup Muslim associations in order to represent the Muslim communities of Europe through the MIGREUROPE platform, it, however, no longer exists.

As a supplement : List of NGOs present in Brussels, Welfare and religion in a european perspective. A comparative study of the role of the Churches as agents of welfare within the social economy by the Upssala Diakonivetenskapliga Institutet, 2003 and the working papers of the Welfare and Religion in a European Perspective (WREP) of the Uppsala University.

D 5 October 2012    ABérengère Massignon

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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