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EU: Shared values? Ongoing disagreement amongst Member States on proposed anti-discrimination law
25 November 2015
EU Member States still can't agree on a Directive proposed in 2008 that would "extend the protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation to areas outside employment," covering "social protection, including social security and healthcare; education; and access to goods and servies, including housing.
According to a progress report published by the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council on 16 November 2015: "A very large majority of delegations have welcomed the proposal in principle," and: "Most delegations have affirmed the importance of promoting equal treatment as a shared social value within the EU."
"While emphasising the importance of the fight against discrimination, certain delegations have, in the past, questioned the need for the Commission’s proposal, which they have seen as infringing on national competence for certain issues and as conflicting with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. One delegation has maintained a general reservation. Certain other delegations continue to question the inclusion of social protection and education within the scope.
Certain delegations have also requested clarifications and expressed concerns relating, in particular, to the lack of legal certainty, the division of competences, and the practical, financial and legal impact of the proposal."
The report goes through the issues discussed recently and concludes:
"Clear progress has been made under the Luxembourg Presidency, particularly on the provisions related to disability. Nevertheless, it is clear that there is still a need for further work before the required unanimity can be reached."
That "further work" will have to deal with "the overall scope" of the proposed Directive, as "certain delegations" are "opposed to the inclusion of social protection and education within the scope." Two other issues are "the division of competences and subsidiarity" and "legal certainty".
According to the report, "all delegations have maintained general scrutiny reservations on the proposal," while the Czech Republic, Denmark, Malta, Poland and the UK "have maintained parliamentary scrutiny reservations." Unanimity amongst Member States is required for the adoption of the Directive.
Presidency, 'Proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation - Progress Report', 13877/15, 16 November 2015
Council Working Party on Social Questions, 'Proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation', 14862/14, 11 November 2014
'EU anti-discrimination law: Six years and (still) waiting', EUobserver, 2 July 2014