In view of the recommendations from the European Commission report of 2007 'Tackling Multiple Discrimination - Practices, Policies and Laws', that multiple discrimination should be expressly prohibited, why is there no express prohibition on multiple discrimination in the draft Equality Directive (COM(2008)0426
), and only one reference to multiple discrimination (in the context of women) in the preamble (i.e. No 13)?
The report to which the Honourable Member refers was drafted by the Danish Centre for Human Rights at the Commission's request.
The Commission considers that multiple discrimination is a social reality which should be addressed in an appropriate manner. However, the body of the proposal for a Directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation(1)
adopted by the Commission on 2 July 2008 contains no explicit provision prohibiting multiple discrimination.
There are two reasons for this. First, the proposal concerns discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. Introducing a clause on multiple discrimination on other grounds too(such as gender or racial or ethnic origin) could be seen as going beyond the remit of the Directive. Alternatively, if multiple discrimination concerned only the four grounds of discrimination covered by the draft Directive, then such major forms of multiple discrimination as those involving gender, or racial or ethnic origin would not be tackled. Secondly, when it was preparing the abovementioned proposal, the Commission considered that this issue deserved further reflection.
The Commission therefore proposed that the non-discrimination governmental expert group set up recently should work on the issue of multiple discrimination. The tasks of the group, which was established by the Commission decision of 2 July 2008(2)
- to establish cooperation between the relevant Member State authorities and the Commission on issues relating to the promotion of equality and the fight against discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation;
· to monitor the development of EU and national policies in this field; and
· to foster the exchange of experience and good practice on issues of common interest relating to non-discrimination and the promotion of equality.
At the group's first meeting in November 2008, the Commission agreed with the group that it would address the issue of multiple discrimination. The Commission has also asked the European Network of Legal Experts in the field of Gender Equality to draft a report on the legal aspects of multiple discrimination with a specific focus on the gender dimension. That report is expected to be completed by June 2009.