Select Committee on European Union Ninth Report


Texts of the Proposed Council Directives

Proposal For A Council Directive Implementing The Principle Of Equal Treatment Between Persons Irrespective Of Racial Or Ethnic Origin

(text with EEA relevance)


Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community and in particular to Article 13 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,

Having regard to the Opinion of the European Parliament,

Having regard to the Opinion of the Committee of the Regions,

Having regard to the Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee,

(1)    Whereas the Treaty on European Union marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe;
(2)   Whereas the European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to all Member States; whereas in accordance with Article 6(2)   of the Treaty on European Union, the Union should respect fundamental rights as guaranteed by the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as general principles of Community Law;
(3)   Whereas the right of equality before the law and protection for all persons against discrimination for all persons constitutes a universal right recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination and the United Nations' Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, of which all Member States are signatories;
(4)   Whereas Article 13 of the Treaty establishing the European Community empowers the Council to take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;
(5)   Whereas the European Council, at its extraordinary meeting in Tampere, on 15 and 16 October 1999 invited the Commission to come forward as soon as possible with proposals implementing Article 13 of the EC Treaty or the fight against racism and xenophobia;
(6)   Whereas the 1999 Employment Guidelines agreed by the European Council at Vienna on 11 December 1998 and adopted by the council on 22 February 1999 stress the need to foster conditions for a socially inclusive labour market by formulating a coherent set of policies aimed at combating discrimination against groups such as ethnic minorities;
(7)   Whereas discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin may undermine the achievement of the objectives of the Treaty, in particular by hindering a high level of employment and of social protection, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life and economic and social cohesion and solidarity; whereas it may also undermine the objective of developing the Union as an area of freedom, security and justice;
(8)   Whereas the Commission presented a Communication on Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism in December 1995;
(9)   Whereas to ensure the development of democratic and tolerant societies which allow the participation of all persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, specific action in the field of discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin should go beyond access to employed and self employed activities and cover areas such as education, social protection and social security, social advantages, the access to and the supply of goods and services;
(10)   Whereas to this effect, any direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin as regards the areas covered by this Directive should be prohibited throughout the Community; whereas this prohibition of discrimination should also apply to nationals of third countries; whereas this prohibition does not apply to differences of treatment based on nationality;
(11)   Whereas harassment on grounds of racial or ethnic origin of a person or group of persons which produces an intimidating, hostile, offensive or disturbing environment must be deemed to be discrimination;
(12)   Whereas the prohibition of discrimination should be without prejudice to the maintenance or adoption of measures intended to prevent or compensate for disadvantages suffered by a group of persons of a particular racial or ethnic origin;
(13)   Whereas a difference of treatment may be justified where a relevant characteristic related to racial or ethnic origin constitutes a genuine occupational qualification;
(14)   Whereas persons who have been subject to discrimination based on racial and ethnic origin should have adequate means of legal protection; whereas, to provide a more effective level of protection, associations or legal entities should also be empowered to exercise the rights of defence on behalf of any victim;
(15)   Whereas the effective implementation of the principle of equality requires adequate judicial protection in civil matters against victimisation and an adjustment of the general rules on the burden of proof;
(16)   Whereas Member States should provide adequate information on the provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive;
(17)   Whereas Member States should take the necessary measures to ensure that any laws, regulations, administrative provisions, collective agreements, internal rules of undertakings or rules governing independent occupations, professions, or trade organisations which are contrary to the principle of equal treatment should be declared null and void or amended;
(18)   Whereas Member States should promote social dialogue between the social partners to address different forms of discrimination and to combat them;
(19)   Whereas protection against discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin would be itself strengthened by the existence of an independent body in each Member State, which would be competent to analyse the problems involved, to study possible solutions and to provide concrete assistance for the victims;
(20)   Whereas this Directive lays down minimum requirements, thus giving the Member States the option to introduce or maintain more favourable provisions; whereas the implementation of this Directive should not serve to justify any regression in relation to the situation which already exists in each Member State;
(21)   Whereas Member States should provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions in case of breaches of the obligations under this Directive;
(22)   Whereas, in conformity with the principle of subsidiarity and the principle of proportionality as set out in Article 5 of the EC Treaty, the objective of ensuring a common high level of protection against discrimination in all the Member States of the European Union may be better achieved at European level through a common legal framework; whereas Community legislative intervention does not prejudice the Member States' competence to ensure a higher level of protection against discrimination in accordance with their legal orders and their legal traditions,

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