Nov 14 2014
Equal Treatment Directive
Under the Italian Presidency the European Commission are due to present a proposal for a directive which addresses discrimination outside the workplace on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. This is the first attempt to tackle discrimination in an integrated way. It deals with discrimination that occurs in public and private sectors, in access to social protection, education and also in access to goods and services, including housing.
Within the European Parliament (EP) the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) is the one responsible for this directive. One of the major challenges to the approval of this Directive is the fact that it brings together many areas.
There are four open questions which represent a challenge in the Council. These questions regard: the scope of application, the anticipatory measures which regard accessibility in the field of disability, the subsidiarity problem and also the legal certainty for the overall directive.
The representative of the Commission expressed the clear political commitment of the new Commission and declared that the Commission is ready and open to improvements of the proposal if necessary. Then it went on to congratulate the Italian Presidency for the “remarkable work in difficult circumstances”. The Commission is fully committed to the adoption of this proposal and Mr. Juncker made that clear when he declared that he will try to convince reticent Member States to approve this directive.
Mrs. Lunacek, the Rapporteur for this Directive, declared that she was pleased to see this issue on the agenda. She continued asking why some Member States do not support the principle of equality that has to be implemented. She declared: “My impression is that there is no more questions of technical or legal clarity – the point is political will. The real question is how do we get the reticent governments to move ahead?”
We have the principle of equality with regard to employment and also we have the Directive against racial discrimination. The employment directive establishes that everybody has to be treated equally. But why do the other vulnerable groups not enjoy the same rights?
The point, according to the Vice President of the EP, is that the European citizens expect equal treatment from the European Union (EU).
The issue at stake here is access to services and goods for everyone. Why should non-discrimination be legally binding only with regard to race and not on other grounds?