Press conference: EU anti-discrimination law still stalled after 5 years, MEPs regret

Today marks five years since the European Commission proposed a law banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, but also age, disability and religion, outside of employment. National governments are blocking the proposal.

Proposal for a DirectiveOn 2 July 2008, the European Commission published a proposal for an EU directive implementing the principle of equal treatment.

EU law already outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation, age, disability and religion in employment.

The directive proposed in 2008 aims to ban discrimination on these grounds in other areas, including education, social protection, healthcare, and access to goods and services—including housing.

The text must be approved unanimously by all 28 EU Member States, and consented to by the European Parliament—which already adopted a resolution supporting the directive in 2009.

National governments, led by Germany, have argued the text goes beyond the EU’s competences, and say this will be too costly to implement. Studies and legal experts have denied both points.

Today, political groups in the Parliament also signed a joint statement, reaffirming their commitment to the directive.

Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP, European Parliament Rapporteur for the text and LGBT Intergroup Vice-President, said today: “National governments must face their responsibility: what is it that bothers them so much? That wheelchair users should access public buildings? That older people should be able to buy insurance services?”

“I’m very happy the Council made steady progress in their technical discussions, especially with the recent new definition of ‘access’. But make no mistake: the time for political progress has largely come. I urge the Lithuanian Presidency to keep the text high on its agenda.”

Dennis de Jong MEP, LGBT Intergroup Vice-President and representing the GUE/NGL group, added: “When my partner and I asked for a double bedroom in a Baltic country, we almost didn’t get it because the receptionist thought two individual rooms would suit us better. This makes you wonder if you’re still welcome at all, not to mention graver examples impacting people’s lives very seriously, like when obtaining life-saving healthcare.”

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