Freedom to manifest religion and protection of animal welfare in the context of ritual slaughter.
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 derogation in Article 4(4) of Regulation 1099/2009/EC, which permits the practice of ritual slaughter, reflects the desire of the EU legislature to respect the freedom of religion and the right to manifest religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, as enshrined in Article 10 of the Charter. This provision thereby gives effect to the EU’s commitment to a tolerant, plural society where divergent and, at times, conflicting views and beliefs subsist and must be reconciled.
2. The wording itself of the Regulation does not contemplate the elimination or quasi-elimination by Member States of the practice of animal slaughter as prescribed by religious rites. The States cannot read the provision aimed at ensuring more extensive protection of animal welfare in such a manner as would take from the rules safeguarding ritual slaughter.
3. While the right guaranteed in Article 10(1) of the Charter corresponds to the right guaranteed in Article 9 ECHR – to which all Member States are signatories and, in accordance with Article 52(3) of the Charter, has the same meaning and scope – it is clear that the EU legislature, by adopting Article 4(4) of the Regulation and requiring the possibility of strengthening animal welfare safeguards to operate within the confines of the former provision, intended to grant a more specific protection to freedom of religion than that which may have been required by Article 9 ECHR.
(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).