The Council of the EU must adopt the new Anti-Discrimination Directive!

Amnesty International EU Office Press Release

The Council of the EU must adopt the new Anti-Discrimination Directive!

(Brussels, 26 April) Amnesty International is today launching a campaign on the EU’s Anti-Discrimination Directive. The campaign will target the German government, which is currently blocking the adoption of the directive, ahead of the next Employment and Social Affairs Council (EPSCO) on 7 June 2010.

The proposal for a new directive, launched by the European Commission in July 2008, would put into effect the principle of equal treatment for everyone in the EU beyond employment, filling in key gaps in the current EU anti-discrimination legal framework. It would prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief, disability, age and sexual orientation in areas such as social security, healthcare, education and housing. The proposal has been blocked by Germany in the Council of the EU despite both the current Spanish EU presidency and the previous Swedish having made its adoption a priority.  

It is a real shame that such an important piece of legislation, which is only filling an existing legal gap, is being blocked by a country that publically claims to take discrimination issues seriously. Germany is denying protection to victims of discrimination all around Europe while in the same time granting such protection at home,” says Nicolas Beger, the director of Amnesty International’s EU office.

The German government has argued that existing EU anti-discrimination legislation has been ineffective and that there is no legal basis for the EU to act in some of the areas the directive covers. Neither of these claims stand up to scrutiny.  Independent studies have shown that the existing EU Racial Equality Directive has significantly improved the protection against race-based discrimination in many EU countries.  Article 19 of the Lisbon Treaty also gives the Council of the EU a clear mandate to take appropriate action when it comes to combating discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

“Discrimination is ripe across the EU with serious impact on people’s access to fundamental rights. The EU has to take action immediately to stop the detrimental impact discrimination has on the whole of society. A first step would be to adopt the new Anti-Discrimination Directive without watering it down, without promoting additional exceptions to the definition of discrimination and without offering different levels of protection to different groups,” concludes Beger.

Sign up to our petition for an adoption of the Anti-Discrimination Directive here

For further comment/background and interviews:

     Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
     Tel: 32-2-5021499
     Fax: 32-2-5025686
     Email: [email protected]