Creating a fairer Britain
A directive is a legislative act of the European Union which has to be transposed by member states into national law within a certain timescale.
Once a directive has been adopted, member states are given a timetable for the implementation of the intended outcome. In some cases, the national laws of a member state may already comply with this outcome and so no action is required. If member states don’t already comply, they are required to make changes to their laws, a process referred to as ‘transposition’, in order for the directive to take effect.
In July 2008, the European Commission published its proposal for an anti-discrimination directive covering goods and services in the four remaining grounds not already covered by EU law. These are age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability.
The directive, if passed, would have to be transposed in all 27 European Union member states. As EU law takes precedence over domestic law, all member states will have to ensure that their domestic laws comply with the minimum standards laid out in the directive, and where their domestic law does not comply, introduce appropriate domestic law. States are free to go further than the provisions of the directive itself, but they cannot do less than the directive requires.
This directive would ensure equal treatment across the four strands (age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability) in the areas of social protection, including social security and health care; education; and access to and supply of goods and services which are commercially available to the public, including housing and transport. This applies to both public authorities and private sector bodies providing goods and services.
The directive would prohibit direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment and victimisation. For people with disabilities, non-discrimination includes general accessibility as well as the principle of ‘reasonable accommodation.’ The directive also permits organisations to take positive action measures to compensate for disadvantage on any of the four grounds.
The Commission invited parties to feed in to our response to the Government’s consultation on the EU Article 13 Equal Treatment directive, in order to help present a stronger and more thorough response.
More information on the directive can be found in our Q&A.
The Government’s consultation on the directive runs until the 28 July 2009 and we strongly encourage all interested parties to respond to the consultation.
Our own consultation is now closed and we have submitted our response to the Government.