A small update on the Anti-Discrimination Directive

For all those who wish to closely follow developments around the EU’s planned Anti-Freedom Directive (also known as “Anti-Discrimination” or “Equality” Directive), here are some interesting links:

• A video recording of the meeting of EU Social Affairs Ministers of 11 December 2014, in which this subject was discussed for around one hour (beginning at 2:29), and

• the newest version of the draft Directive, as well as a summary note prepared by the General Secretariat of the Council in order to inform about the state of play. (To better understand how the draft is evolving, you may compare the document with our annotated version of 2014.)

It appears that the European Commission (probably due to pressures from the left/extreme-left side of the EP in the run-up to its nomination) is now very keen to get the controversial measure adopted very soon. Some Member States (such as Sweden, Austria…) are also keen, but others less. However, this being a meeting at ministerial level, the language is rather nuanced. The main concerns expressed by opponents are the (presumably enormous) costs associated with the adaptation of buildings and infrastructures, the risk of legal uncertainties, and the possible impact of the reversal of the burden of proof.

The revised Commission proposal still contains 119 footnotes to be cleared out, so there is still some work ahead.

It should be noted that not all delegations took the floor. Among those not taking the floor was Germany, the most vocal opponent of the proposed Directive. But there may be also some less vocal opponents.

In addition, it should be recalled that – as we reported here – just one week after the meeting the Czech Senate, including Senators representing the Government majority, adopted with 55 – 3 votes a motion of censure against the Government for having reversed the Czech Republic’s negative stance against the proposal into a positive one.

In the meantime, civil society opposition against the Anti-Freedom Directive is growing. 100 NGOs have written to Commission President Juncker asking him to withdraw the proposal, which since 2008 has failed to gain traction. They have now received a holding reply, informing them that Commission Vice-President Timmermans is examining the issue in more detail.