The EU's role in combating discrimination

09-05-2012

The right to equality of treatment is a universal right recognised by a number of international human-rights agreements, including the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition to the rights provided by the ECHR, discrimination against EU citizens is also prohibited by various provisions of EU equality law. This area has grown considerably over the past 50 years. The Treaty of Rome offered protection only on grounds of nationality and gender, but the scope of EU equality legislation grew significantly in the period following the coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam. New treaty articles and a broader range of discriminatory grounds opened up the opportunity for broader scale directives. The Commission's attempt to introduce a horizontal equal-treatment directive has, however, so far failed to secure unanimous Member State approval, despite the support of the European Parliament. Most commentators consider it unlikely that this proposal will be adopted any time soon. However, there is little consensus either in academic circles or amongst Member States as to how best protection of equal treatment can be further improved.

The right to equality of treatment is a universal right recognised by a number of international human-rights agreements, including the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition to the rights provided by the ECHR, discrimination against EU citizens is also prohibited by various provisions of EU equality law. This area has grown considerably over the past 50 years. The Treaty of Rome offered protection only on grounds of nationality and gender, but the scope of EU equality legislation grew significantly in the period following the coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam. New treaty articles and a broader range of discriminatory grounds opened up the opportunity for broader scale directives. The Commission's attempt to introduce a horizontal equal-treatment directive has, however, so far failed to secure unanimous Member State approval, despite the support of the European Parliament. Most commentators consider it unlikely that this proposal will be adopted any time soon. However, there is little consensus either in academic circles or amongst Member States as to how best protection of equal treatment can be further improved.