Munich condemned by Bavarian Admin Court for discriminating a member of Scientology
Munich condemned by Bavarian Admin Court for discriminating a member of Scientology
The City is now obliged to grant an eBike to a member of this Church.

The written judgment of the Bavarian State Administrative Court of Appeal (file no.  4 B 20.3008) in the case of a Munich Scientologist against the city of Munich is now available. The case dealt with the city E-Mobile Funding Directive, issued for the purpose of environmental protection, and the city´s refusal to provide a grant for the purchase of an E-Bike to the plaintiff, solely by reason of her adherence to Scientology.

The Bavarian State Admin Court condemned the city practice with unmistakable words as an unjustified interference in the religious freedom guarantee of Art. 4 of the German Constitution and as a violation of Art. 3 of the Constitution which prohibits unequal treatment before the law. The court stated:

The exclusion of applicants, who feel bound by the Scientology teachings, from the circle of recipients of grants [for an E-Bike] also constitutes a violation of fundamental rights in a multiple way. It is incompatible with the freedom of religion or philosophy and does not satisfy the equal rights requirements of the Constitution.“

Bavarian State Administrative Court, 2021

As the Federal Supreme Admin Court had judged already in 2005, also the Bavarian State Admin Court confirmed that the plaintiff and generally all members of the Church of Scientology can „in any case claim the fundamental right of Art. 4 sect. (1) of the Constitution.“ Art. 4 sect. (1) of the German Constitution guarantees the inviolability of the freedom of belief or the religious and philosophic denomination. By denial of the requested grant, the City of Munich had violated this in a multiple way.  

The city was not allowed to generally require the revelation of the religious or philosophical conviction and blanketly exclude Scientologists from its funding program for E-Bikes. The court found Measures from public authorities that are aimfully directed against the practice of a freedom right protected by Art. 4 sect. (1) of the Constitution, at any rate constitute indirect interferences with a fundamental right. These prerequisites are fulfilled in the case of the exclusion of Scientology adherents from the funding program of the defendant when connected to their personal belief.“

On the prohibition of unequal treatment practices, the court found that the city´s exclusion practice violates the fundamental equal rights principles of the Constitution. The court stated:Also for reasons of equal treatment, the exclusion of Scientology-members and -adherents from the funding program of the defendant must be considered as illegal. It violates Art. 3 sect. (1) and (3) of the Constitution“, that is to say, it violates the fundamental principle that all people are equal before the law and that they must not be subjected to disadvantages by reason of their belief or religious or philosophical conviction.

The spokesperson of the Church of Scientology of Germany was happy to comment on the judgment:

With the above a German Court for the first time called a spade a spade. We are happy that this discriminatory city practice towards Scientologists was finally „red-carded“ which it had deserved since long. This is a victory for religious freedom for all people who are subject to disadvantages in Germany by reason of their religious belief.“

Last september 2020, Scientology had requested the UN to launch an investigation on Germany for violating religious freedom, and in fact the Special Rapporteur on FORB Ahmed Shaheed, had previously written a letter to the German government inquiring them for such discriminatory practices. While the Scientologists still have some work to do to get their rights respected by German officials, it seems that international exposure and above all, proper abidance to the law and justice system, is paying off.

Photo: Steffen Flor, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

On this day, slavery was abolished in the United States
On this day, slavery was abolished in the United States

In 1862 the US Congress abolishes slavery in the country. At the heart of the removal was President Abraham Lincoln, who was later assassinated precisely because of the law. In 1865 a final amendment was made to the constitution that abolished slavery in the United States.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, delegates fiercely debated the issue of slavery. They ultimately agreed that the United States would potentially cease importation of slaves in 1808. An act of Congress passed in 1800 made it illegal for Americans to engage in the slave trade between nations, and gave U.S. authorities the right to seize slave ships which were caught transporting slaves and confiscate their cargo. Then the “Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves” took effect in 1808. However, a domestic or “coastwise” trade in slaves persisted between ports within the United States, as demonstrated by slave manifests and court records.

Due to Union measures such as the Confiscation Acts and the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the war effectively ended slavery in most places. Following the Union victory, the institution was banned in the whole territory of the United States upon the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865.

Even though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, slaves were still being bought and sold in the south. Multiple bills of sale for slaves in Georgia were recovered when the U.S. Navy intercepted the southern ship Mary during the Civil War and claimed both the ship and its contents as a prize.

These receipts were confiscated from the Mary when it was captured. They belong to Captain George A. Johnson. One is in the amount of $4,300 for the purchase of an enslaved woman named Jane, aged 18 years old. The other is in the amount of $7,500 for the purchase of a woman named Susannah and two children.

Photo: Receipt for the Purchase of an Enslaved Woman Named Jane

This primary source comes from the Records of District Courts of the United States. National Archives Identifier: 5722335.

Full Citation: Captain George A. Johnson’s Receipt for Purchase of Slave; 10/6/1864; A18-523; United States vs. Mary; Civil War Prize Case Files, 1861 – 1865; Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21; National Archives at New York, New York, NY. [Online Version,, June 19, 2021]

Parliament approves new rules for a common mandatory Transparency Register
Parliament approves new rules for a common mandatory Transparency Register

News | European Parliament 27-04-2021 

Parliament, Council and Commission aim to make registration de facto mandatory, as a precondition for certain activities and through equivalent complementary measures.

The report by Parliament’s co-negotiator Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) was adopted with 645 votes in favour, five against and 49 abstentions. This vote signifies a major change to the structure of the existing Transparency Register: interest representatives will have to register in order to be able to carry out certain lobbying activities relating to any of the three signatory institutions, while each institution will now also put in place complementary transparency measures to encourage their registration.

Parliament welcomes the “activity-based approach” that covers indirect lobbying, which has become more prevalent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also welcomes the change of the Council’s status from an observer to a formal party to the agreement. Nevertheless, it highlights that the scope could have been broader in relation to Council activities, and calls for maximum participation in the voluntary scheme for Permanent Representations. MEPs also stress that any revision of the conditionality arrangements on the Commission’s side should include meetings with senior staff.

The text calls for the implementation of several actions by the Parliament’s bodies, including:

  • making participation as a speaker at all events organised by committees or by intergroups, as well as delegation meetings, conditional on registration;
  • adopting guidelines in order to support rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee Chairs to fulfil their obligations under Parliament Rules of Procedure; and
  • introducing a rule for Parliament’s senior staff to meet only with registered interest representatives.



EP co-negotiator Katarina Barley (S&D, DE) stated: “After years of wrangling, the Council is finally brought on board. By setting a positive example, we can become a role model also for the Member States and shift the paradigm across the board. With the new rules, citizens can more easily understand how decisions that affect their daily lives are made. It is also important that we will now have a stronger code of conduct and more resources for the effective implementation of the rules”.

EP co-negotiator and rapporteur Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) highlighted that “Parliament’s goals are fully reflected in the new framework: we have expanded the remit and strengthened the Transparency Register, while ensuring that free mandate given to MEPs by European citizens will remain intact. With Council becoming a co-signatory to the interinstitutional agreement, we are really turning a new page for transparent decision-making at EU level”.


Next steps

Parliament’s President will sign the Agreement with the President of the Council and the

President of the Commission, which will be published in the Official Journal of the EU.


Under Parliament’s existing rules, rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs are required to publish information on their scheduled meetings with interest representatives within the scope of the Transparency Register.

Parliament’s co-negotiators reached a political agreement with the Council and the Commission in December 2020. Since 2011, the Parliament and the Commission have jointly operated a public register for interest representatives. The Council has been an observer since 2014. The Commission presented its proposal for a new inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register covering the Parliament, Council and the Commission in 2016. More information can be found on the dedicated EP webpage.

Conference on the Future of Europe: preparations continue
Conference on the Future of Europe: preparations continue

News | European Parliament

After the successful launch of the multilingual digital platform, the Executive Board continues to fine-tune arrangements prior to the inaugural hybrid event on 9 May.

At their third meeting on Thursday (22 April), the Executive Board endorsed the event’s draft programme, which will take place on Europe Day. It will be broadcast live, and will feature remote citizen participation and interventions by the Presidents of the three EU institutions.


The representatives of the European Parliament, Council and Commission also endorsed the Conference’s Rules of Procedure regarding the European citizens’ panels, and in relation to the Principles and the Scope of the Conference. Each panel will comprise 200 citizens and will ensure that at least one female and one male citizen per Member State is included. Citizens will be chosen randomly to set up panels that are representative of the EU’s diversity, in terms of geographic origin, gender, age, socioeconomic background and level of education. Young people between 16 and 25 will make up one-third of each panel.


They also held an exchange of views on the rules of the Conference Plenary, aiming to reach an agreement at their next meeting.


Parliament’s Co-Chair of the Executive Board, Guy Verhofstadt, said: “We are preparing the ground to get as much interaction as possible between the two starting tracks of the Conference – the platform and the citizens’ panels. The next step is to set up the Plenary to reflect Europe’s diversity of opinion and take up the ideas and suggestions from citizens, on which the success of the Conference depends.”


The Portuguese Secretary of State for EU Affairs, and Co-Chair from the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Ana Paula Zacarias, said: “The level of participation in the Conference’s digital platform over the last days had been truly impressive. Citizens are answering our call for participation and it’s time to move a step further and set the Conference in motion.”

Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, and Co-Chair, Dubravka Šuica, said: This Conference is all about engaging and empowering citizens. We keep them at the forefront of all our thinking on the Conference. Whether they are pro-Europe or sceptical, we want to hear from them, so we can respond to their concerns.


Next steps


The next meeting of the Executive Board is scheduled to take place on 9 May in Strasbourg. Nevertheless, additional meetings might still be scheduled in the weeks before.




The Executive Board is composed of representatives from the three institutions (European Parliament, Council and Commission), on equal footing. It oversees the work, process and organisation of the Conference. COSAC representatives participate as observers to all Board meetings. Representatives from the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee and social partners are also invited as observers.

The multilingual digital platform is fully interactive: people can engage with one another and discuss their proposals with fellow citizens from all Member States, in the EU’s 24 official languages. People from all walks of life and in numbers as large as possible are encouraged to contribute, via the platform, in shaping their future – and also to promote the platform on social media channels, with the hashtag #TheFutureIsYours

Conference on the Future of Europe: launch of the multilingual digital platform
Conference on the Future of Europe: launch of the multilingual digital platform

News | European Parliament

The Conference’s central hub, unveiled today by the Co-Chairs of the Executive Board, will allow citizens to help shape the Union’s future.

The Executive Board of the Conference on the Future of Europe, comprising representatives from the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, is launching the multilingual digital platform for the Conference on the Future of Europe inviting all EU citizens to contribute to shaping their own future and that of Europe as a whole. The platform is available in 24 languages, allowing citizens from across the Union to share and exchange their ideas and views through online events.

The Joint Presidency of the Conference welcomed the launch of the platform.

European Parliament President, David Sassoli, said: “The platform represents a key tool to allow citizens to participate and have a say on the Future of Europe. We must be certain that their voices will be heard and that they have a role in the decision-making, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. European democracy, of the representative and participatory kind, will continue to function no matter what, because our shared future demands it.”

Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council, said: “The time has come for our citizens to actively share their greatest concerns and their ideas. This discussion couldn’t happen at a more relevant time. We have to prepare now, so that we come out of this crisis even stronger and when we overcome the pandemic we stand ready for the future. We hope to continue to build the Europe of the future together, a fairer, greener and more digital Europe that responds to our citizens’ expectations.”

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Health, climate change, good and sustainable jobs in a more and more digital economy, the state of our democratic societies: We are inviting Europeans to speak up, to address their concerns and tell us what Europe they want to live in. With this citizens’ platform, we are giving everyone the opportunity to contribute to shaping the future of Europe and engage with other people from across Europe. This is a great opportunity to bring Europeans together virtually. Join the debate! Together, we can build the future we want for our Union.”

The Conference on the Future of Europe is an unprecedented, open and inclusive exercise in deliberative democracy. It seeks to give people from all walks of life, across Europe, a greater say on what they expect from the European Union, which should then help guide the EU’s future direction and policymaking. The Joint Presidency has committed to follow up on the outcome of the Conference.

Read More

Agreement on a Mandatory Transparency Register
Agreement on a Mandatory Transparency Register
  • Instrument for a common culture of transparency between Parliament, Council and Commission
  • Registration of interest representatives de facto mandatory through conditionality and complementary transparency measures with equivalent effect
  • Interest representatives to comply with reinforced code of conduct

On 15 December, Parliament, Council and Commission reached a final political agreement to strengthen transparent and ethical interest representation.

The agreement establishes principles and rules for a coordinated approach to transparent and ethical interest representation at EU level, building a common culture of transparency while taking into account the signatory institutions’ respective specificities.

A wide scope

The reinforced Transparency Register will apply to all three institutions, including the Council for the first time. Other European Union institutions and bodies can voluntarily use it too, thereby increasing the potential for greater transparency at EU level. The member states’ permanent representations will also take part through unilateral voluntary measures.

Activities aimed at influencing the decision-making processes or the formulation or implementation of policy or legislation at EU-level will fall within the Transparency Register’s scope. The negotiators agreed on a non-exhaustive list that includes organising meetings or events, contributing to public consultations, communication campaigns, and preparing position papers or amendments. The same types of activities by third countries will also be covered, when they are carried out by entities without diplomatic status or through intermediaries. Interest representatives will have to declare the interests and objectives they promote, as well as to specify the clients they represent. All registrants will need to provide information on the resources that they devote to interest representation activities, with a new focus on sources of funding.

Some activities will remain possible without registration, such as spontaneous meetings, providing information at the request of the institutions, legal advice, and activities by social partners, political parties, intergovernmental organisations or public authorities of the member states. However, associations and networks of such public authorities engaging in interest representation activities can register, if they choose to do so. In order to avoid unnecessary administrative burden, activities carried out by interest representatives exclusively on behalf of an association or network of which they are a part will be considered to be activities of that network or association.

Conditionality and complementary transparency measures

Each signatory institution will make registration of interest representatives a precondition for certain activities, and may put in place complementary transparency measures to encourage registration. In doing so, the institutions will ensure that those measures are consistent with the agreement and contribute to a high standard of transparent and ethical interest representation. All measures must be made publicly available on a dedicated webpage. You can read more on this in the relevant press release (7.12.2020).

Code of conduct and operational structure

Applicants must observe a code of conduct in order to be eligible for registration. Stronger provisions on monitoring and investigations ensure that effective action can be taken if the code of conduct is not observed, potentially resulting in the removal of registrants. The existing Joint Transparency Register Secretariat in charge of these processes will evolve into a tripartite operational structure, in which the three institutions will be represented on an equal footing. A Management Board will oversee the overall implementation of the Agreement. Find out more in the

Press conference

A press conference (at 15.45 on 15 December, in Parliament’s Anna Politkovskaya press conference room) will be held with the negotiators, Parliament’s Vice-President Katarina Barley and Constitutional Affairs Committee Member Danuta Hübner, German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth for the Presidency of the Council, and Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová. Follow live or on VOD on EbS and Parliament’s Multimedia Centre.


EP negotiator Katarina Barley (S&D, DE) said: “I am confident that the newly evolved Transparency Register will be effective, balanced, and increase citizens’ trust in the EU institutions. Our objectives have been achieved in this agreement: the EU will have a stronger Transparency Register, we have avoided unnecessary administrative burden for registrants, and the free mandate of European citizens’ elected representatives has been safeguarded. The improved rules provided in the code of conduct for interest representatives will also undoubtedly make a big positive impact.”

EP negotiator Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) said: “”I am pleased that the new agreement expands the scope of the register to the Council. In addition, we have broadened the scope of the new transparency register. These, among other improvements, now allow us to monitor interest representation throughout the EU’s decision-making procedures in a more coherent manner. This agreement signals a new chapter for transparency in the EU”.”

Next steps

The agreement will have to undergo internal adoption procedures in each institution, after which it can be signed and enter into force. For Parliament, this means it will be referred to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, and then tabled for a vote by the full House. In the Council, it will be submitted for approval by the Committee of Permanent Representatives and afterwards adopted at Council level. The College will need to formally adopt the Agreement and empower Vice-President Jourová to sign it on behalf of the Commission.


The Commission presented its proposal for a new inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register for interest representatives covering the Parliament, Council and the Commission in 2016. Since 2011, the Parliament and the Commission have jointly operated a public register for interest representatives. The Council has been an observer since 2014. More information can be found on the dedicated EP webpage.

Steps to improve EU democracy ahead of 2024 elections
Steps to improve EU democracy ahead of 2024 elections

News | European Parliament

  • Build on the 2019 increase in youth participation through Conference on Future of Europe
  • Guarantee an equal vote and representation for all citizens
  • Strengthen EU democracy by accentuating the European dimension of elections

Parliament aims to enhance democracy and enable full participation in the European political space, based on lessons from the 2019 European elections.

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted with 468 votes to 194 against and 34 abstentions a resolution that draws conclusions from the May 2019 European Elections.

A stronger electoral process

MEPs welcome the higher turnout, especially among young voters, which demonstrates that the negative trend in turnout in Europe can be reversed. They also welcome the improved gender balance (41% women MEPs, up from 37%), but highlight the persistent disparities among member states, which could be addressed through “zipped” lists or similar methods. Minorities (Roma people in particular) are underrepresented, citizens with disabilities are excluded due to a lack of accessible voting centres (an estimated 800,000 in 2019), and those who are homeless and prisoners face obstacles in exercising their right to vote, Parliament criticises.

Interference by foreign and internal actors is also a matter of concern, for which the Council and the Commission should engage with Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the EU (INGE), which took up its work in September. MEPs ask for a ban on campaign funding from foreign bodies, scrutiny of social media platforms’ algorithms, as well as education and awareness-raising efforts.

Read More

Independent Ethics Body: strengthening transparency and integrity in the EU
Independent Ethics Body: strengthening transparency and integrity in the EU

News | European Parliament

On Thursday, the authors of two studies will present their work and discuss with MEPs in a joint Constitutional Affairs and Legal Affairs committee meeting.

Dr Christoph Demmke, Professor of Public Management, University of Vaasa, Finland, will present “Conflict of interest policies: effectiveness and best practice in Europe“. The study analyses the effectiveness of relevant rules, policies and practices within member states regarding conflict of interest for top political appointments.

Dr Markus Frischuut, Professor, Jean Monnet Chair “EU Values & DIGitalization for our CommuNITY (DIGNITY)”, at MCI / The Entrepreneurial School, Innsbruck, Austria will follow with “Strengthening transparency and integrity in the EU institutions by setting up an independent EU ethics body“. Based on a comparison covering France, Ireland and Canada, this study proposes an ‘Independent Ethics Body’ (IEB) via a new interinstitutional agreement.


Read More