Monday

26th Oct 2020

Anti-discrimination bill approved by civil liberties committee

A bill banning discrimination against people on the basis of age, disability, sexual orientation, belief or religion in the areas of education, social security, health care and goods and services including housing has been approved by the European Parliament's civil liberties committee.

In a 34-to-seven vote, with four abstentions, the law, a directive proposed by the European Commission last July, was endorsed by the MEPs.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Gay people in Poland cannot be refused an appartment, if the bill passes (Photo: Stockholm Pride, Kari Lind)

Since 2000, the European Union has prohibited these forms of discrimination at work, but legal protection in the realms of public services, buying products or making use of commercial services was not covered.

The new legislation brings bans on these forms of discrimination in line with existing laws against racial or ethnic prejudice and on assuring equal treatment of men and women.

The deputies underlined that the bill covers both health care and transport, but agreed that transactions between private individuals that are not commercial or professional are to be excluded from anti-discrimination protection.

The bill will not affect national legislation on marriage or family law and the deputies insisted that the EU member states remain responsible for educational content.

The directive will have no affect on domestic legislation on the "secular character of the state" - a reference to French laws banning religious attire, including headscarves, from schools.

The changes also do not prevent governments from offering positive discrimination or beneficial quotas to groups in society that have historically been marginalised.

For handicapped individuals, enterprises and other organisations are expected to provide reasonable accomodation to their needs. Any measures however should not result in disproportionate costs - a key worry of small businesses - or fundamentally modify the nature of the goods or services in question.

Handicaps and age can still be taken into account by insurance companies or banks, as this is not considered discrimination, but a requirement of the determination of risk.

The bill also will not be a bonanza for youngsters who might have thought guns, beer and cars will now be as much at their disposal as they are for grown-ups. Age restrictions for such products are to remain acceptable.

They can console themselves in the knowledge that youth cards - and their retiree equivalents - for museums, swimming pools, buses and the like will still be permitted.

A vote of the full sitting of the parliament is expected on 1 or 2 April.

Polish court effectively bans legal abortions

The human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe said the ruling marked a "sad day for women's rights", adding that more women will seek abortions underground and abroad.

Visual Data

Coronavirus: Will a second wave divide Europe again?

Experts are now warning of the "very serious" surge in Covid-19 cases in Europe - where new weekly cases exceede those reported in March. The worst-hit countries are Spain and France - while Italy is resisting the much-feared second wave.

EU to have first-ever anti-racism coordinator

The European Commission is set to unveil an action plan to fight racism - which will address gaps in existing legislation and extend the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech.

News in Brief

  1. EU capital bans Halloween festivities due to corona
  2. Belarus: 11th weekend in a row of mass protests
  3. MEPs back vegetarian 'burgers' and 'sausages'
  4. Macron: Pandemic to last until next summer
  5. Czech health minister sacked in corona violation
  6. Johnson waiting for US election in Brexit talks
  7. Europe's Jewish population continues decline
  8. Report: EU border agency flouts law to help Greece

Coronavirus

EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m

Several member states are putting forward restrictive Covid-19-related measures to try to control the surge of numbers of coronavirus cases, trying to avoid a second lockdown. Meanwhile, the global death toll from the novel coronavirus has reached one million.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Erdoğan whips up Muslim hate against Macron
  2. Gruelling Brexit and budget talks continue This WEEK
  3. Ministers back EU-wide 2050 climate goal, not by country
  4. The German mayor now facing US sanctions over Nord Stream
  5. EU Commission rejects retaliatory visas for US citizens
  6. Feminists target Polish churches in abortion 'revolution'
  7. South Caucasus death toll much worse than feared
  8. Polish court effectively bans legal abortions

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us