News 27.05.10
Directive against Discrimination Still Stalled
A new directive against discrimination was approved by the European Parliament in April 2009. The previous directive against discrimination applied only to employment, occupation and vocational training. The new directive intended to expand this to social protection, education, transportation and access to services. In order to be implemented, the new directive had to be adopted unanimously by all Member States in the European Council. The German Federal Government, however, blocked the directive.

One year later, the situation remains unchanged. Meanwhile, the parliamentary groups of the German Bundestag have different attitudes to this directive. The Greens support the directive against discrimination. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) is against the directive. According to them, the government should urge the EU Commission to withdraw the directive draft, because it supposedly promotes legal uncertainty for companies. FDP argues that the amount of abstract legal terms in the draft makes it unclear, which concrete measures companies will have to take in practice. In addition, the draft supposedly interferes with the freedom of contract. According to the German Free Democratic Members of Parliament, the EU Directive contradicts the principle of subsidiarity. They are of the opinion, that the EU legislator is not authorised to intervene that far into the social legislation of Member States. The extension of the legislation against discrimination in almost every area of life is unrealistic, according to the FDP.

In October 2009, the European Commission examined infringement proceedings against the German Federal Government for inadequate implementation of three EU directives against discrimination. One of the accusations was that adequate conditions for people with disabilities in the working field had not been implemented. Not all persons with disabilities have sufficient access to employment, to a profession, to career advancement and to participation in education and vocational training. Currently this is possible only for severely disabled persons and persons who are threatened of becoming disabled. According to the European Commission, German legislation does not correspond to European law in this field. In this context, the Commission pointed out that the German Federal Government has committed itself to take adequate precautions according to Articles 2 and 5 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

The Greens asked the Federal Government, what actions it had taken to create "completely appro-priate conditions for people with disabilities in employment and occupation" in order to avert a complaint at the European Court of Justice. The Federal Government replied that the policy against discrimination has already been implemented in Germany. In order to ensure the equal treatment principle for persons with disabilities, a system of social legislation and laws regarding employment and occupation have already been fully implemented. The Federal Government referred in particular to the General Equal Treatment Act, the Social Code Book, the Civil Code and labour laws.

Numerous associations have strongly criticized the German Federal Government’s resistance to the European Union’s anti-discrimination policy. The new policy proposed by the European Commission and supported by the European Parliament, could significantly improve the access of disabled persons to public services.

The attitude of the German Federal Government was also criticized by various Members of the European Parliament belonging to different groups and nationalities. According to them, this directive would help people with disabilities in the European Union to gain more rights.

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Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Werkstätten für behinderte Menschen e. V. (BAG WfbM) is the political representative of sheltered workshops in Germany. We represent 93 % of all German workshops. All public welfare organisations and religious denominations work jointly in our organisation.

Our task is to give expert advice on questions related to employment, vocational training, financing and legal issues. Additionally, we are actively involved in the legislation process. BAG WfbM promotes for the participation of persons with disabilities in working life.
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