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    Accueildroits humainsMEP Peter van Dalen's Farewell to the European Parliament

    MEP Peter van Dalen’s Farewell to the European Parliament

    MEP Peter van Dalen (Christian Union) has announced today on his website his departure from the European Parliament, concluding a remarkable tenure spanning over 14 years. Upon the request of the national executive of the Dutch Christian Union, Van Dalen makes way for Anja Haga, the next candidate on the party’s list, to continue their important work.

    Upholding Freedom of Religion or Belief

    Throughout his tenure, one of the causes closest to Peter Van Dalen’s heart has been the promotion of religious freedom in Europe and across the globe. He played a pivotal role in co-founding the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Religious Freedom and was instrumental in the establishment of a Special Envoy on Religious Freedom within the European Union. Notably, Van Dalen organized the highly esteemed European Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that attracted dignitaries and visitors from around the world for many years.

    Van Dalen underscores the ongoing significance of prioritizing religious freedom, stating:

    “More and more Christians worldwide are being persecuted, but at the same time, attention to this growing issue is waning in Europe. This is a very worrying development. Many colleagues do not seem to appreciate the seriousness of this.”

    Reflecting on his impactful initiatives, Peter Van Dalen recalls two cases that stand out: the release of Christian Asia Bibi and the Christian couple Shagufta & Shafqat, who were unjustly held on Pakistani death row for several years on charges of blasphemy. From his position in the European Parliament, Van Dalen exerted pressure on the Pakistani government, working closely with Pakistani lawyer Saïf-ul-Malook, to secure their freedom and advocate for the abolition of blasphemy laws. These successes highlight the efficacy of Van Dalen’s unwavering commitment to religious freedom.

    Furthermore, Van Dalen has consistently championed the rights of the people of Armenia and the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The population, predominantly Christian, has long endured oppression from Azerbaijan, an issue that has been largely overlooked by the international community. Van Dalen strongly believes that Europe should provide support to the Armenians in their struggle against belligerent Azeris. Encouragingly, EU foreign chief Borrell recently pledged to take action on this matter, signalling progress towards addressing the ongoing challenges faced by these communities.

    Photo credit: THIX for The European Times – MEP Peter Van Dalen at the 10th Anniversary of the European Union Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

    Additionally, van Dalen made significant contributions to the development of the European Union Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Recognizing the pressing need for a comprehensive framework to safeguard this fundamental human right, Van Dalen played a pivotal role in shaping these guidelines. His expertise and commitment to religious freedom were instrumental in ensuring that the guidelines not only addressed the challenges faced by Christians but also encompassed the broader spectrum of religious communities across Europe.

    Peter Van Dalen’s tireless efforts in this regard have left a lasting impact, providing a crucial reference for policymakers and stakeholders working towards the protection and promotion of religious freedom within the European Union, and just the day before announcing his departure, he hosted (together with MEP Carlo Fidanza, Human Rights Without Frontiers, EU Brussels FoRB Roundtable and the Netherlands FoRB Roundtable) a two hours conference within the framework of the 10th anniversary of the guidelines. The conference was well attended by civil society, university students and some MEPs, as well as representatives from different faiths and cosmovisions, from Evangelicals to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Later Day Saints, Scientologists and humanists among others.

    Protecting the Fisheries Sector

    Van Dalen has also been a staunch advocate for the fisheries sector during his time as an MEP. Serving as the vice-chairman of the fisheries committee in the European Parliament, he has witnessed the hardships faced by fishermen in recent years.

    Recalling the struggles encountered, Van Dalen states:

    “When I started working to preserve pulse fishing from 2017, the Netherlands was already virtually alone in Europe on this important file. More than some extension for use of that gear was unfortunately not in the cards. Combined with the Brexit, the fall in demand for fish during the corona pandemic and the introduction of the landing obligation, among others, our fishery was unfortunately dealt a heavy blow. Together with several Dutch MEPs, we tried all kinds of things to reverse this development, but failed. I deeply regret that. When I now see how many cutters are being scrapped, it turns my stomach.”

    Passing the Torch to MEP Anja Haga

    Anja Haga has been designated as Peter van Dalen’s successor. With a background as a former Fryslân state member and Arnhem alderman, Haga brings her expertise in nature and climate issues at the European level to the role. She anticipated that:

    “It is important to make the Christian-social sound heard again and again. Religious freedom, creation and looking after our neighbour requires our full attention in the coming years, especially also at the European level.”

    Peter Van Dalen’s Background

    Peter van Dalen embarked on his political career as a policy officer supporting MEP Leen van der Waal in 1984, while affiliated with the RPF party. Since 2009, he has served as an MEP representing the Christian Union, now in his third term of office. In addition to his steadfast commitment to religious freedom and the fisheries sector, Van Dalen has actively engaged with topics such as the euro and the European Union’s foreign policy. Throughout his tenure, he consistently emphasized the importance of preserving the influence and decision-making power of EU member states.

    Peter van Dalen’s departure from the European Parliament marks the end of an era characterized by dedication, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to advocating for religious freedom and the well-being of the fisheries sector. His legacy will undoubtedly inspire future generations of policymakers and activists to champion these causes, ensuring a more just and inclusive society within Europe and beyond.

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