Amnesty International EU Office Press Release
50,000 signatures in favour of new Anti-Discrimination Directive.
(Brussels, 7 June) Amnesty International have gathered over 50,000 signatures since the start of the campaign to support the European Commission’s proposal for a new Anti-Discrimination Directive, which will be further discussed at the upcoming Employment and Social Affairs Council (EPSCO) on 7 June. Amnesty International has asked the German Minister for Family Affairs, Kristina Schröder, to personally receive the signatures, gathered from across the EU.
The new directive would guarantee equal treatment for everyone beyond employment, filling the gap in the existing EU anti-discrimination framework by covering areas such as religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. Since the directive was proposed in July 2008, Germany has been against its adoption, preventing both the Swedish and the current Spanish EU presidencies to achieve one of their stated priorities.
“People from all over Europe have signed on to our petition because they believe that the EU should do more to fight discrimination. They believe that no one should be denied social protection such as healthcare just because of their age, religion, disability or sexual orientation. It is a shame that the German government doesn’t share this opinion,” says Nicolas Beger, the director of Amnesty International’s EU office.
Amnesty International dismisses Germany’s arguments for blocking the directive – claiming that current legislation against discrimination on EU-level has proved inefficient and that no legal basis exists for the EU to adopt a new directive. Reports have shown that the adoption of the EU Race Equality Directive in 2000 have improved the situation in this area considerably. The proposed Anti-Discrimination Directive also has a clear legal basis in Article 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which enables the Council to take appropriate action to combat discrimination. That Germany already protects its own citizens from discrimination on several grounds and areas of life, whilst refusing to extend such protection to other EU citizens makes its position even more untenable.
“Through its blanket opposition, Germany is contributing to the stall in negotiations, whilst providing the opportunity to some Member States to introduce more restrictions in the scope of the directive. Discrimination in Europe is a widespread problem causing human rights violations on a daily basis. If EU leaders are serious about combating this problem, they should adopt the Anti-Discrimination Directive without attempting to water it down, promoting further exceptions or suggesting different levels of protection to different groups”, concludes Beger.
For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499/32 -2 – 548 2773
Email: [email protected]