MINELRES: The EU Commission Warns 14 Member States Over Anti-discrimination Legislation

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Jul 13 17:38:45 2007


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


The EU Commission Warns 14 Member States Over Anti-discrimination
Legislation 

The ERRC welcomes and strongly supports the European Union Commission’s
formal request from 14 Member States to implement entirely the EU
legislation regarding ethnic and race based discrimination. This is an
important step towards acknowledging the fact that discrimination on
ethnic and racial grounds persists as a fundamental human rights problem
in the EU member states. This request paves the way for relentless
efforts to combat discrimination. 

The Commission stated in its press release on 17 June 2007 that 14
member states – Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Ireland,
United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and
Slovakia – have not implemented the Race Equality Directive accurately.
The Race Equality Directive was agreed upon unanimously in 2000 and the
deadline for adoption of the requisite mediums into the national law was
set as July 2003.

However, despite the more than 4 years that have passed, required steps
were not fully taken by some of the member states. The formal request
mandates that the 14 countries fully implement the Directive. Under the
foreseen infringement procedure, the member states have two months to
reply to the reasoned opinion. Should the addressed states fail to
produce satisfactory replies, the Commission will refer the matter to
the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The Commission may also
request the imposition of fines if the States do not comply.  

The main problem areas identified by the Commission include:

National legislations that are limited to the workplace conditions,
though the Race Equality Directive also prohibits discrimination in
social protection, education and access to goods and services, including
housing; 
Definitions of discrimination that tend to diverge from the Directive
(in particular, in terms of indirect discrimination, harassment and
instructions to discriminate); 

Inconsistencies in the provisions designed to help victims of
discrimination, such as the protection against victimization, the shift
of the burden of proof and the rights of associations to assist
individuals with their cases. 

The ERRC regards the Race Equality Directive as one of the most
important tools to combat the discrimination on all grounds and deems it
essential that all member states fully conform to its requirements. Vera
Egenberger, the Executive Director of the ERRRC emphasizes that
antidiscrimination legislation is particularly decisive for Roma, as
they are among the chief targets of inequitable treatment. She states,
“I would hope that the Roma build up confidence in the judiciary of
their countries to make full use of such legislation, aiming for equal
treatment for all.”

Advocacy for racial and ethnic equality is a multi-step process. The
ERRC believes that the request of the Commission presents a vital
opportunity to those countries in question to prove that they are
genuinely supporting the elimination of discrimination by adopting the
legal measures set by the Directive.

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The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and
provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more
information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the
web at http://www.errc.org 

To support the ERRC, please visit this link:
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2735 

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary
Tel: +36.1.413.2200
Fax:
+36.1.413.2201

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