Politics and Society/EU Antidiscrimination Directives

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[edit] Introduction

The European Community has long been active in the fight against discrimination. Indeed, at the time of its creation one of its most pressing missions was to reconcile a continent divided by nationalistic and ethnic conflicts. For many years the focus was on preventing discrimination on the grounds of nationality and sex discrimination. 1997 was a major turning point when the Member States agreed to some far reaching changes to the Treaty. Following the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, the Community was given new powers to combat discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation, and the power to combat sex discrimination was widened. In the year 2000, the Council unanimously adopted two Directives and the Community Action Programme on Gender Equality.

There are two EU Directives dedicated to the fight against discrimination being in force since 2000. First, the Racial Equality Directive 2000/43/EC and second, the Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC. In addition, as regards gender equality legislation , there are directives on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of vocational training, employment, and working conditions and on the access to and supply of goods and services.

In July 2008, a proposal was adopted by the European Commission to extend the current protection from discrimination beyond the workplace. Discrimination on grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief will be covered by the new Directive also in the areas of social protection, including social security and health care, education and access to and supply of goods and services which are commercially available to the public, including housing [1] .

[edit] Racial Equality Directive 2000/43/EC

The Racial Equality Directive

  • Implements the principle of equal treatment between people irrespective of racial or ethnic origin.
  • Gives protection against discrimination in employment and training, education, social security, healthcare and access to goods and services.
  • Contains definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
  • Gives victims of discrimination a right to make a complaint through a judicial or administrative procedure, associated with appropriate penalties for those who discriminate.
  • Shares the burden of proof between the complainant and the respondent in civil and administrative cases.
  • Provides for the establishment in each Member State of an organisation to promote equal treatment and provide independent assistance to victims of racial discrimination. [2]

[edit] Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC

  • Implements the principle of equal treatment in employment and training irrespective of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age in employment and training.
  • Includes identical provisions to the Racial Equality Directive on definitions of discrimination, rights of legal redress and the sharing of the burden of proof
  • Requires employers to make reasonable accommodation to cater for the needs of a person with a disability who is qualified to do the job in question.
  • Allows for limited exceptions to the principle of equal treatment, for example to preserve the ethos of religious organisations or to allow special schemes to promote the integration of older or younger workers into the labour market. [3]

[edit] References

  1. European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities Website
  2. The Directives at a glance at the EU "Stop Discrimination" pages
  3. The Directives at a glance at the EU "Stop Discrimination" pages

[edit] Downloads

Racial Equality Directive 2000/43/EC

Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC

Proposal for a new EU Antidiscrimination Directive COM(2008)426 final

[edit] See also:

[edit] External links

Within the framework of the European Campaign "For Diversity. Against Discrimination.", a variety of documents and information has been compiled, providing an overview on EU activities on antidiscrimination as well as on the implementation of the EU antidiscrimination directives in the Member States.

[edit] Other Sources

Holzleithner, Elisabeth (Spring 2005); Mainstreaming Equality: Dis/Entangling Grounds of Discrimination; in: Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 14:XXX, Spring 2005, p. 927-957.

In this article, the EU anti-discrimination legislation is critically reflected, based on considerations on legal and political strategies concerning equality policies as part of the EU’s social policy at the one hand and economic aims at the other hand.

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