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5. The dialectics of the decision-making process
5.1. The parliamentary question for oral answer (transcription)
|Example of parliamentary question to Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, from Claude Moraes, British MEP of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, on the horizontal directive against discrimination.|
Answering the question, the Commissioner mentions issues emerging from the debate on the approval of the directive, such as the alleged breach of the principle of subsidiarity or the financial burden of its introduction. The issue of disparity in protection against discrimination also comes up in the exchange, and so does the EP's control role over the reception of the directives by Member States.
|Wednesday, 9 July 2008 - Strasbourg||OJ Edition|
President. − Question No 46 by Claude Moraes (H-0427/08)
Subject: Anti-discrimination horizontal directive
The European Commission announced that this spring would see the launch of the new horizontal directive prohibiting discrimination.
What is the latest development regarding the scope of the directive? Will there be a far-reaching anti-discrimination directive including ALL of the remaining grounds of Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty – namely age, disability, religion or belief, and sexual orientation, as supported by a majority in the European Parliament?
If not, could the European Commission give its reasons, and outline its detailed plan of action for the coming months?
The proposal for a directive therefore takes into account the specifics of each ground of discrimination so that the directive is as effective as possible. Specifically, it makes it possible, depending on the context, to take into account the age, and to consider the issue of age and disability in the insurance and banking sector, if this is adequate and reasonable, and I stress the words adequate and reasonable. This may never mean wilful exclusion of older or disabled persons from these sectors. In cases of disability, the principle of equal treatment is a positive commitment providing for general accessibility for disabled persons and carrying out appropriate adjustments in individual cases. Such measures do not represent a disproportionate burden. The proposal for a directive clearly states that account shall be taken of the size, nature and resources of the organisation, the estimated cost, the life cycle of goods and services, and the possible benefits of access for persons with disabilities. The proposal is an important step towards closing a huge loophole in non-discriminatory legislation.
Of course we realise that protection from discrimination on grounds of gender outside the workplace is not yet as strong as protection from discrimination on grounds of race. This is because Directive 2004/113/EC does not cover the area of education, as can be seen from the explanatory statement of this proposal. We think that it would be too premature to propose changes to said Directive, since the period for its implementation ended only recently. However, when we are preparing the implementation report in 2010, we can propose changes to the Directive if necessary.
Let me just ask you and the Commission to maintain your vigilance so that derogations and exemptions to the principle of equal treatment are not sought on just any grounds: they must be sought on necessary grounds and on genuine principles of subsidiarity, because we have seen transpositions of the Employment Directive and Race Equality Directive which were not complete and we must ensure that this good package becomes law in the Member States.
Syed Kamall (PPE-DE). - (EN) Could I ask the Commissioner to comment on British newspaper reports? Apparently, as reported in the press, anti-discrimination legislation does not currently apply to workers over the age of retirement, and people of retirement age or older are being legally sacked. Does the Commissioner have plans to tackle the British Government’s discrimination against older workers?