New Equal Treatment Directive Proposed
Update February 2012
Three years after publication by the European Commission and two years after the European Parliament completed its initial opinion, this proposal is still being discussed by member states. A note sent to ministers meeting at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in December says that while progress was made in the second half of 2011, "there is a clear need for extensive further work on the proposal."
This is a proposed directive intended to "combat discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, and to put into effect the principle of equal treatment" in providing access to goods and services and other activities outside the labour market.
There have been concerns among some tourism businesses that the provisions on issues such as age discrimination could make it impossible for them to target specific market segments exclusively. For example, would accommodation businesses promoting themselves as places for adults without children be caught by the directive?
Commission officials suggest that there is a difference between using marketing activity to define age limits for specialised services and simply turning someone away because of his/her age.
There are also concerns, raised by the German government in particular, about the cost to business of implementing the new directive.
The future of this proposal is not clear. For it to be adopted, all 27 member states will have to give their approval and only if they do will the European Parliament be asked to say 'yes' or 'no' to the proposed text. We understand that that unanimity among member states has not yet been achieved. One vote against would mean that the proposal falls.