In November 2009, the UK was found by the European Commission to have incorrectly implemented two EU Equality Directives. The first breach concerns the EC Equal Treatment Framework Directive, which prohibits discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The second relates to the EC Equal Treatment Directive, which covers equal treatment between men and women in employment.
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In December 2009, the European Network against Racism (ENAR) published its ‘General Policy Paper No. 6: Migration and Diversity: A Rights-Based Approach to Migration’.
It is the product of ongoing concern and reflection regarding the development of progressive migration and integration policies, at a time when the EU institutions are considering a new programme for the design of EU policies in the area of justice and home affairs after 2010.
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In December 2009, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published the results of its EU-MIDIS survey.
Addressing the lack of reliable and comparable data on minorities in many EU countries, the survey examines experiences of discriminatory treatment, racist crime victimisation, awareness of rights, and reporting of complaints. EU-MIDIS involved face-to-face interviews with 23,500 persons from selected immigrant and ethnic minority groups in all 27 Member States of the European Union. 5,000 persons from the majority population were also interviewed to compare the results.
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In response to a widespread lack of data on the experiences of immigrants and ethnic minorities in the European Union, in 2008 the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) carried out its first large-scale survey covering all the 27 EU Member States.
EU-MIDIS is based on primary survey data collected from selected ethnic minority and immigrant persons resident in the EU Member States.
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The final evaluation report of the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All includes four thematic reports on Age, Racial and Ethic Origin, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Mainstreaming.
The report and thematic reports were published in December 2008.
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On 2 April 2009, the European Parliament voted in favour of a new directive to prevent discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
Members of the European Parliament adopted a consultation report by Kathalijne Buitenweg (Greens/EFA, NL) by 360 votes in favour and 227 against.
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On 5 March 2009, the European Court of Justice published its ruling on the challenge to the UK’s compulsory retirement age.
The decision confirmed that European Member States have ‘the option to provide, within the context of national law, for certain kinds of differences in treatment on grounds of age if they are “objectively and reasonably” justified by a legitimate aim, such as employment policy, or labour market or vocational training objectives, and if the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. It imposes on Member States the burden of establishing to a high standard of proof the legitimacy of the aim relied on as a justification.’
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Click here for Discrimination Law Association briefing by Gay Moon
Click here for Guardian report of the decision
The Equality and Diversity Forum’s leaflet ‘European law and equality: An introduction’ explains the relationship between European and UK anti-discrimination law.
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Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request printed copies of the leaflet.
On 17 July 2008, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that treating employees less favourably because of their association with a disabled person was unlawful.
The case of Sharon Coleman, funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission jointly acting with solicitors Bates Wells & Braithwaite London LLP, was referred to the ECJ by an Employment Tribunal in order to determine if ‘disability discrimination by association’ is unlawful. Her case will now have to go back to the Tribunal for a hearing later this year.
In a statement, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said that ‘[t]he legal victory in Europe creates new rights for Britain’s six million carers, including those looking after older relatives’.
In April 2008, the Equality and Diversity Forum wrote to the President and Commissioners of the European Commission to express support for the proposal for a new directive to extend protection against discrimination in the provision of goods and services to cover all areas presently excluded including disability, age, sexual orientation and religion.
The letter was copied to all UK Members of the European Parliament.
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