Major EU fund for employment and social inclusion will combat discrimination
Today, the European Parliament adopted a regulation defining the priorities of the European Social Fund (ESF) for the period 2014-2020. For the first time, the Fund will contribute to combating discrimination based on sex—including discrimination against transsexual persons—and sexual orientation.
The ESF is one of the EU’s structural funds, designed to further social and economic cohesion in the EU. It is the main instrument of the EU to promote employment, and currently consists of about 10 per cent of the EU’s budget.
One of the fund’s priorities is to promote equal opportunities. With today’s resolution, the Parliament insisted the Fund should also aim to combat discrimination.
Today’s binding resolution specifies that discrimination based on sex should be interpreted broadly, including discrimination against transsexual people, in line with EU Court of Justice jurisprudence.
(11) […] the implementation of the priorities financed by the ESF should contribute to combating discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation […]; discrimination on the ground of sex should be interpreted in a broad sense so as to cover other gender-related aspects in line with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The Court of Justice of the EU has ruled several times that people who are planning to undergo or have undergone gender reassignment surgery may not be discriminated against, as this constitutes sex discrimination, forbidden under EU law.
Elisabeth Schroedter MEP, spokesperson for the Greens/EFA and Member of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted: “Traditionally, the Fund has mainly been concerned with socio-economic redistribution.”
“For the first time now protection against discrimination is a own funding priority, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people . With this, the European Parliament took an important step towards a more inclusive Social Fund.”
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBT rights, added: “I am glad the Parliament chose to address the fight against discrimination and promotion of equal opportunities in the ESF. These issues are core tasks of the European Union. With this ESF, the EU will be able to make a difference on the ground.”
Now that the EU priorities of the ESF have been set for the period 2014-2020, it will be up to national governments to distribute their share of the Fund.
- Read the Parliament’s resolution on the European Social Fund (PDF)
- View the European Social Fund website