Magazine article European Social Policy

Anti-Discrimination : Germany Stumbling Block to Negotiations

Magazine article European Social Policy

Anti-Discrimination : Germany Stumbling Block to Negotiations

Article excerpt

The main stumbling block to progress in negotiations for an extension of EU legislation against discrimination continues to be Germany's unwillingness to discuss details, say sources. The proposed directive aims to "complement" existing anti-discrimination legislation in the areas of social protection (including social security and health care), social advantages, education and access to goods and services, including housing. However, the member states continue to disagree over several key aspects, such as the scope of the draft, the concepts of harassment' and of legitimate difference of treatment' on the grounds of age and disability or different treatment based on age in the provision of financial services (eg banking and insurance).

Berlin is openly opposed to the legal basis' of the directive and fears the compliance costs for small and medium-sized enterprises that would need to make adjustments under the proposed directive to their buildings to improve accessibility for disabled persons. But since a number of other countries have also expressed reservations, a veto could also come from another quarter. Passing the directive requires unanimity. Italy, Lithuania and the Netherlands are known to have doubts whether it is necessary to legislate in this field. To date, Berlin has been the lead opponent as it refused to even discuss the proposal in three-way talks with Stockholm and the European Commission. An eventual decision at higher political level may still result in an agreement. …

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