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Centraal Israëlitisch Consistorie van België e.a. and Others v. Vlaamse Regering, Case C-336/19, CJEU (Grand Chamber), 17 December 2020


Freedom to manifest religion and protection of animal welfare in the context of ritual slaughter.

Normative references

Council Regulation 1099/2009/EC of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing
Article 13 TFEU
Article 10 EUCFR


1. The practice of ritual slaughter is authorised only by way of derogation in the European Union and solely in order to ensure effective observance of freedom of religion and the right to manifest religion or beliefs in practice and observance, in particular for practising Muslims and Jews.

2. A national legislation requiring, in the context of ritual slaughter, reversible stunning which cannot result in the animal’s death, falls within the scope of the freedom to manifest religion, guaranteed in Article 10(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. As a matter of fact, the Charter uses the word “religion” in a broad sense, covering both the internal forum, that is, the fact of having a belief, and the external forum, that is, the manifestation of religious faith in public.

3. Such legislation respects the essence of Article 10 of the Charter, since the interference resulting from it is limited to one aspect of the specific ritual act of slaughter, and that act is not, by contrast, prohibited as such.

4. Like the ECHR, the Charter is a living instrument which must be interpreted in the light of present-day conditions and of the ideas prevailing in democratic States today, , with the result that regard must be had to changes in values and ideas, both in terms of society and legislation, in the Member States.
(Preliminary reference by the Constitutional Court of Belgium, seeking the annulment of a regional law on the ground that it deprives Jewish and Muslim believers of the guarantee that, in accordance with their religious precepts, ritual slaughtering may not be subject to a requirement of prior stunning).