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Parliamentary questions
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13 June 2019
Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-001674/2019

Discrimination on any grounds, is incompatible with the values and principles upon which the EU is founded. Non-discrimination is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. However, the provisions of the Charter are addressed to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law.

Concerning equality between married couples on the one hand and unmarried or divorced couples on the other hand, and between couples in their first and second marriage, the Honourable Member's attention is drawn to the fact that EC law does not regulate substantive family law and civil status, including as a condition of access to national systems of family support. Under EC law, discrimination based on sexual orientation and age is prohibited only in the field of employment(1). The Commission's proposal for a horizontal Equal Treatment Directive, which would prohibit discrimination based, inter alia, on sexual orientation and age in social protection, including social security, has not yet been adopted by the legislator(2).

Concerning equality between women and men, EC law regulates statutory schemes of social security(3), but does not cover family support schemes. Therefore, as far as gender equality is concerned, the conditions to the entitlement to this allowance are in principle a matter of exclusive national competence.

As regards ethnic origin, the Race Equality Directive protects from discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin(4). Putting in place criteria to access systems of family support does not amount to discrimination, unless the criteria disadvantage in an unjustified manner a person or a group sharing the same ethnic origin, compared to other persons or groups.

(1)Directive 2000/78/EC, OJ L 303, 2.12.2000.
(2)Proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, COM(2008) 426 final.
(3)Directive 79/7/EEC on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security, OJ L 6, 10.1.1979, 24. The directive only applies to statutory schemes providing protection against sickness, invalidity, old age, accidents at work and occupational diseases, and unemployment, as well as to social assistance intended to supplement or replace these schemes, idem.
(4)Directive 2000/43/EC, OJ L 180, 19.7.2000.

Last updated: 13 June 2019Legal notice