Select Committee on European Union Ninth Report


EU PROPOSALS TO COMBAT DISCRIMINATION

PART 3: THE CURRENT PROPOSALS

16. On 25 November 1999 the Commission adopted a package of four proposals under Article 13. These are not to be seen as a full or final implementation of Article 13: Commissioner Diamantopoulou, presenting them to the European Parliament on 30 November, described them as "a launch pad for other proposals in the future"[24]; the Commission has also mentioned the possibility of a disability-specific Directive in 2003.[25]

17. The four documents are as follows: two Directives, one "implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin" (the "race Directive"), the other "establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation" (the "framework Directive"); a proposal "establishing a Community action programme to combat discrimination (2001-2006); and a "Communication from the Commission on certain Community measures to combat discrimination". The texts of the two Directives, as deposited, but excluding the accompanying Explanatory Memoranda and Annexes, can be found in Appendix 3.

THE COMMUNICATION

18. The Commission's Communication provides a summary of the background to the accompanying proposals and of their content, and a range of arguments supporting them. The package is described as "a comprehensive basis for action, providing a minimum level of rights not to be discriminated against, supported by practical action to promote the effective application of those rights on the ground." In other words there is a two-pronged approach: "binding legislation accompanied and reinforced by an action programme". The Communication then summarises the arguments justifying the draft Directives on grounds of subsidiarity and proportionality: they would establish a "common level of protection" throughout the Community. At the same time Member States would have considerable discretion in how to implement the Directives, taking account of their "different traditions and circumstances". A number of annexes to the Communication then list a range of declarations and documents on discrimination issues, as well as the constitutional and statutory provisions on discrimination in the Member States.

THE ACTION PROGRAMME

19. The proposed Action Programme complements the draft Directives with a range of measures designed to "support Member States' efforts to develop their policies and practices to combat discrimination". It proposes to achieve this largely by "encouraging the exchange of information and good practice" rather than by supporting "legislation and policy development", which will in themselves be the responsibility of Member States. It will be aimed at key "target actors", listed as "independent bodies responsible for the fight against discrimination, non-governmental organisations, social partners, research institutes, the media, opinion-formers, social service providers, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies." The programme contains three strands. The first aims to improve the understanding of issues related to discrimination through the development of statistical bases, benchmarks, and "indicators to assess the effectiveness of anti-discrimination policies". The second aims to develop the capacity of the "target actors" through the transnational exchange of information and good practice. The third aims at raising public awareness of the fight against discrimination, in particular of its EU dimension. The proposal emphasises that in working towards all these aims the Action Programme will have to complement and not duplicate existing programmes, notably the Community Initiative EQUAL (on employment) and the educational programmes SOCRATES, LEONARDO and YOUTH. Participation in the Action Programme will be opened up to candidate countries. The total cost of the programme over its six years will be just under 100,000,000 Euros.

THE DIRECTIVES

20. The present inquiry has focused on the two draft Directives (see Appendix 3). The texts of the Directives will be analysed in detail in Part 5, "Summary of Evidence".


24   Commission Press Release, "Anna Diamatopoulou presents the anti-discrimination package at the European Parliament". Back

25   See Q 267. Back


 
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