On 26th of June 2015, Equinet supported the initiative of the German Equality Body and Equinet Member Federal Anti-discrimination Agency (FADA) to raise public awareness on the so-called Horizontal Directive and to call on the German Federal Government to take actions towards unblocking the Directive’s proposal in the EU Council.
At the meeting, FADA gathered representatives of German NGOs and European NGO networks to exchange information about the current political situation in relation to the proposal of the Horizontal Directive and to discuss actions that are needed to move the legislative process towards the adoption of the Directive.
The meeting was opened by Ms. Lüders, Head of FADA, who gave an overview of the German context in relation to the proposal of the Horizontal Directive and stressed the importance of the Directive in order to strengthen equal treatment legislation in the EU. Notably, Germany remains the only Member State in the Council of the EU that is blocking the development of the legislative procedure.
This was followed by a keynote speech by Mr. Manfred Bruns, a former German Federal Attorney General and very well-known LGBT activist. Mr. Bruns summarized the existing legal framework protecting persons against discrimination and presented arguments against the often made claim by the German Federal Government that German Anti-Discrimination Law already protects all the fields outside employment. According to Mr. Bruns, the Horizontal Directive would bring important developments in the anti-discrimination legal framework for the EU and for the Member States, including Germany.
The meeting was concluded by Ms. Anne Gaspard, Executive Director of Equinet, who presented the position towards the proposal of the Horizontal Directive at the EU level, in particular its state of play within the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the EU. She emphasized the wide support given to the proposed Directive within the European Institutions as well as European civil society. Ms. Gaspard called for cooperation between civil society and Equality Bodies on the issue of the Horizontal Directive and for the collection of powerful legal cases that would illustrate the need for the Directive.
The ‘Horizontal Directive’ is the proposal for new EU anti-discrimination law that would protect victims of discrimination based on the ground of age, disability, sexual orientation and religion and belief outside the field of employment. While the European Parliament adopted a resolution supporting the Directive in 2009, the proposal remains blocked in the Council where the unanimous support of all 28 Member States is needed.
The key opposition to the Directive comes from the German Federal Government that is declining opportunities to enter into a substantive and constructive debate about the proposal.
Read Christine Lüders’ (Head of the FADA) op-ed “Germany stands alone” here.
Download Equinet’s note on the Horizontal Directive.