Commentaar op EU-Groenboek
Dossier: Europa en mensenrechten
In het in mei 2004 verschenen 'Groenboek van de Europese Unie' zijn ideeën verzameld over gelijke behandeling en het bestrijden van discriminatie. Deze ideeën dienen als een eerste aanzet voor toekomstig Europees beleid op dit gebied.
De Europese Commissie heeft een oproep gedaan om commentaar te leveren op dit Groenboek. Het LBR (nu Art.1) heeft daar gehoor aan gegeven.
Het LBR roept de Europese Commissie op om de bestrijding van discriminatie uit te breiden. Na de toetreding van de nieuwe lidstaten tot de EU is het werkterrein van de betreffende Europese organisaties flink vergroot.
Ook is het voor het toekomstige beleid van belang dat vertegenwoordigers van de diverse doelgroepen al in een vroeg stadium advies vragen aan de betreffende antidiscriminatie organisaties.
Voorts benadrukt het LBR het belang van het verkrijgen van duidelijkheid over recent geïntroduceerde begrippen, zoals indirecte discriminatie, intimidatie en victimisatie. Een belangrijke manier waarop dit kan gebeuren is door middel van rechterlijke uitspraken.
Tot slot pleit het LBR voor een verbetering van de samenwerking tussen internationale organisaties als de Verenigde Naties, de Raad van Europa en de Organisatie voor Veiligheid en Samenwerking in Europa.
Hieronder volgt het volledige commentaar van het LBR (engelstalig):
Green Paper on equality and non-discrimination in an enlarged European Union
Additional comments by the National Bureau against racial Discrimination, The Netherlands (LBR)
Rotterdam, August 2004
With regard to the Green Paper on equality and non-discrimination, the LBR wishes to add the following comments.
With the inclusion in the EU of the new Member States (MS), a number of issues with regards to equal treatment have come to stand in a different light. In many of the new MS, the issue of immigration has been less developed than in some of the old MS. The national minorities in the new MS, who make up a large part of the target groups of the Racial Equality Directive, have been living in different circumstances than e.g. migrant minorities in the old MS. Although patterns of discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin are similar, caution should be exerted in developing EU-policy on racial equality. The different national contexts should not be ignored and national strategies to combat discrimination should be supported.
The exchange of good practices is an issue that needs to be followed up. It goes without saying that the old MS do not necessarily have to supply the good practices. Over the past period, a number of interesting initiatives have sprung up in various MS, both old and new.
In order for the EU to find out what type of policy or legislation would be most beneficial for various target groups, it would seem productive to consult representatives of various target groups in an early stage.
As a result of the enlargement, the activities of the EU institutions and agencies, such as the EUMC, have had to increase. The same is true for European-level NGOs, such as ENAR. In order for these organisations to perform their activities in both the old and the new MS, the resources available to them should be enough.
Implementing non-discrimination law:
In some MS the transposition of the EU-directives has not been finalised, which results in a different level of protection in different MS. A thorough follow-up and, where necessary, legal action from the part of the European Commission is required.
In those MS where the Directives have been transposed, there is a need for clarification of newly introduced concepts. An important manner to get clarification is by inducing case law. Judgements on various topics, such as the limits of indirect discrimination, harassment, shift of the burden of proof and victimisation will shed light on the implementation of these concepts.
In order to support organisations and individuals in bringing cases before courts or relevant bodies, training in strategic litigation is required. The EU would do well to support initiatives in this respect.
The target groups of non-discrimination legislation do not necessarily include third country nationals. There seems to be a certain discrepancy between EU legislation targeted at migrants, especially third country nationals, and non-discrimination legislation. The LBR has noted with concern, that in a number of recent migration-related Directives and Regulations, the reference to non-discrimination in the original Commission proposal has been deleted or removed to the Preamble in the final version. This reduces the legal power of the non-discrimination principle.
The EU is urged to redress this situation.
Improving data collection and monitoring
Collection of data is of big importance. However, the EU needs to clarify which type of data needs to be collected. In this regard, the difference between the concepts equal treatment and discrimination is relevant.
It is important to make an effort to develop a standard set of norms, to be used by various bodies that collect data. The expertise of the EUMC should be used. At the moment, data collected by police, labour institutions, statistical agencies, NGOs and governmental bodies are of a different nature. There is a lack of comparability, an issue that needs to be addressed.
Furthermore, various international agencies, such as the Council of Europe (through ECRI) and various UN-bodies (ILO, CERD) collect data with similar purposes as the EU and national governments. It seems productive to exchange these data on a formal basis.
Reinforcing cooperation with stakeholders
Many governments are in a process of shifting responsibilities in social fields from the central government to lower levels of government or to (semi-) private parties. Priorities may be set by these local or regional governments themselves, which has the inherent risk that different stakeholders set different priorities. This may result in different levels of protection against discrimination.
Another tendency has developed at the MS level to choose for general policies rather than specific policies aimed at certain target groups. The risk exists that the necessary attention for discrimination is lost in the more general attention for the sometimes-backward position of ethnic minorities.
The same type of risk is visible where non-discrimination policies are being supplanted by diversity policies. Meaningful diversity policies will pay attention to underlying causes of underrepresentation of ethnic minorities and other groups vulnerable for discrimination.
The EU should monitor these developments and should advocate a level of protection against discrimination that is equal in all parts of the Union.
Important stakeholders to be included in the cooperation process are religious organisations, especially in view of the overlap in discrimination on racial and religious grounds.
Others that may need to be involved are international bodies, including those of the UN, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.
With a view to the extension of the mandate of the EUMC, national and international human rights organisations should get a say in EU policies regarding discrimination.
As far as discrimination in employment as well as in the provision of goods and services is concerned, the business sector should be involved. The EU could play a lead role in developing and implementing an effective diversity policy, which is aimed at all discrimination grounds. In the process of promoting corporate social responsibility, diversity and non-discrimination should be promoted.
Ensuring complementarity with other areas of EU policy
The principles of non-discrimination and equal treatment are important not only in the area of social affairs and employment, but also in other policy areas. The EU would need to assume the task of enhancing strategic cooperation and inclusion of these principles in other areas, such as economic affairs, foreign affairs, justice and internal affairs, sports and culture.
Zie hieronder voor het Groenboek.
Meer informatie: mr Dick Houtzager, tel. 010-2010201 of stuur een e-mail via het contactformulier.