Draft EU Horizontal non-discrimination Directive: Ten years on and sadly nothing to show for it

It is now 10 year since the European Commission proposed an important anti-discrimination law to ban discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in all areas of social life. This directive aimed to propose a EU-wide minimum level of protection against discrimination  through a horizontal approach, complementing the current EU Employment Equality Directive which forbids discrimination in employment. Unfortunately the proposed directive has been blocked by the Council of the European Union since 2008.

To mark this ‘failed’ anniversary, AGE together with 5 other European non discrimination NGOs released a joint statement to express their concern about this lack of action in the current context of growing populism. We jointly call for the adoption of a strong legal framework to protect all people in the European Union against discrimination in all areas of life. 

Read our joint statement here

Our joint statement follows the publication of  an article in Euractiv by Birgit Van Hout, the regional representative for Europe of the UN Human Rights Office, and Tena Šimonović Einwalter, the chair of the executive board of Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies. This article denounces an unfair situation which deprives 508 million people in Europe of effective protection against discrimination because of reportedly two EU member states which continue to oppose the directive, and despite the large support in favour of this directive.

The horizontal non-discrimnation directive was also the topic of Town Hall Discussion on advancing anti-discrimination and equality law in Europe, organised in Brussels on 31 May by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner – Europe Regional Office (UNOHCHR Europe) and Equinet. Read more on this event here

NGOs calls for an ambitious Rights & Values Programme 2021-2027 to support human rights and democracy

On 30 May 2018 the European Commission proposed the creation of a new Rights and Values funding programme in the new programing period 2021-2027 (read EC press release). The objective of this new funding proposal is to fight inequalities and discrimination and address the rise in extremism and radicalism in Europe.

Together with a coalition of NGOs, AGE warmly welcomes the new proposal that, we hope, will help protect the achievements of European integration. For that reason, we jointly call on the EU institutions and national policy leaders to make sure that the Rights and Values Programme 2021-2027 will be ambitious enough to meet the needs of civil society organisations at European level and on the ground in view of the current increasing challenges to democracy and human rights within the European Union.

Recalling that the respect and enjoyment of human rights by all is a fundamental feature of our democratic societies, the eight signatories of our joint letter to EU leaders insist on the need for strong action to protect the EU’s rule of law and address the disenchantment of many Europeans.

Read here our joint open letter 

AGE joins NGO call for better promotion of gender equality, accessibility and non-discrimination in EU funds

AGE joined a coalition of NGOs to call upon EU decision-makers to uphold the issues of equality between women and men, accessibility for persons with disabilities and non-discrimination in the proposal for the Common Provisions Regulation 2021-2027 and in the Funds specific regulations.

In the current funding period 2014-2020, the EU structural and investment funds – including the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund – are covered by a common regulation that explicitly featured non-discrimination as a horizontal principle of the funds. This horizontal principle does not appear again in the European Commission draft regulation for the 2021-2027 funding period. 

In a common press statement, the 10 members of the coalition call for the restitution of a horizontal principle on non-discrimination in European funds, recalling EU’s obligations to promote equality between women and men and combat all forms of discriminations under the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities
The statement also points out the important role played by the Common Provisions Regulations, in particular at a time where Europe is confronted with rising extremism, radicalism and inequalities.

Read our full joint statement here