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Exploring the scope for a shared European pluralistic ethos; a comparative investigation of religious and secular ethically-derived requests for exemption from the law in an enlarging Europe

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Sharing a common ethos across different values

Cultural diversity is a major issue in the construction of Europe and is particularly relevant for ever-expanding borders of the European Union. An EU-funded team of researchers focused on how a plurality of values is accommodated in various nations in the context of religious and secular ethics-based requests for exemption from the law.

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The Euroethos project analysed political and legal questions concerning the role of acts of conscientious objection and requests for exemption from the law. Project partners work to realise a knowledge-based and empirically grounded contribution to the debate and to cover an existing gap in the area of such 'value issues'. Adopting a comparative analytical approach also had the aim of identifying similarities and dissimilarities regarding the treatment of such matters across selected countries. Accomplishing this would offer the basis for future direct and/or indirect EU intervention strategies needed to deal with questions of values, religions and cultural diversity. Euroethos researchers thus built a database of instances of differential treatment with regard to conscientious objection and requests for exemption from the law in eight countries. They selected cases dealing with differential treatment in public health (for example, abortion and euthanasia), and in the workplace (for example, wearing of religious symbols and concessions for holy/rest days). These formed the basis of the initiative's comparative case studies and provided the means for testing the research hypothesis regarding the pluralistic nature of a shared European ethos. Project efforts offer enhanced knowledge of the cultural heritage of certain Member States as well as of the history and politics of one EU candidate country, namely Turkey. Knowledge produced thus also offers a sound base from which to further examine related issues of European enlargement and integration. Importantly, the project contributed improved understanding of the impact of religions and plural values in societies across Europe, as well as new knowledge to the discussion of whether European political integration can be grounded on a pluralistic shared cultural substrate.

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