Pasquale Annicchino (Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies) is doing interesting work on a new phenomenon, the promotion of religious freedom in the foreign policy of the EU. I heard him give a paper on the subject at the conference at Harvard earlier this month. Last week, he had an op-ed in La Stampa describing a proposed unit within the EU’s new diplomatic corps, the European External Relations Service, devoted to the protection of religious freedom abroad. This unit, which is modeled after the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, is perceived as especially important in the context of the Arab Spring. Annicchino argues that the unit must have power to impose sanctions for violations of religious freedom; economic agreements the EU has with third countries may provide a mechanism. Here’s the link (in Italian).