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
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
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
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
Read here our joint open letter
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