Sunday

21st Apr 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

EU parliament backs whistleblower law

MEPs backed an EU law to protect whistleblowers from retaliation in both the public and private sectors. EU states will have two years to transpose the directive.

EU commission to map gender recognition

The European Commission will start looking at how EU states determine genders - as part of an effort to make it easier for people to determine their own identities.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us