Equal Treatment : Member States Grappling with Anti-Discrimination Draft
Unanimity among the member states - which is a requirement for the draft anti-discrimination directive to be approved - seems as remote as ever. This emerges from a progress report drafted by the Czech EU Presidency for submission to the Employment and Social Affairs Council, scheduled for 8-9 June in Luxembourg. The Czech Republic, which is known to have had reservations about the desirability of the directive, has discussed, during its six-month tenure at the EU's helm, only the "specific provisions on disability". Back in 2008, on 2 October in Luxembourg, the former Czech Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Petr Necas, voiced his scepticism about the draft, arguing that "we should refrain from more EU legislation in this area. Equal treatment is something the member states themselves have to guarantee".
The progress report reveals that the Czechs have indeed made an attempt to "clarify" the key concepts defining the equal treatment of persons with disabilities. They focused on "general" and "specific" obligations to provide for "reasonable accommodation" in the case of disabled persons. They also aimed "to ensure that the directive does not create a new and disproportionate burden on businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises" and wanted to "improve the legal certainty of the provisions".
Proposed by the European Commission on 2 July 2008, the draft directive aims to "extend the protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation to areas outside employment". It seeks to complement existing legislation and prohibit discrimination in the areas of social protection - including social security and health care - social advantages, education and access to goods and services, including housing.
As if echoing the Czechs' ambitions, the EU's biggest business lobby, BusinessEurope, has said that the draft directive would create "disproportionate administrative burden" on businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). …