Despite opposition from members of the centre-right EPP-ED Group, the European Parliament’s Employment Committee has spoken out in favour of new legislation banning all forms of discrimination.
In the draft report, the Parliament examines whether current EU legislation against discrimination actually helps people with disabilities and people of different ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. But a major conflict between Conservative and Socialist MEPs evolved on the question of whether existing legislation is sufficient or needs to be revised or supplemented.
On the one hand, Elizabeth Lynne, the UK Liberal Democrat MEP in charge of the dossier, welcomed the Commission’s plans to come forward with new anti-discrimation legislation. Lynne suggested that the directive on equal treatment be considered as “the foundation upon which a comprehensive antidiscrimination framework can be built”. She specified that “any new proposed directive will have to prohibit direct discrimination in all areas of life”.
However, EPP-ED group MEPs strongly opposed the Commission’s plans. German MEP Thomas Mann proposed an amendment stipulating that “any extension of the existing European legal framework on antidiscrimination measures should at the moment be firmly rejected, since the enormous amount of red tape needed to implement existing legislation is quite out of proportion to the results obtained”.
Nevertehless, on 2 April 2008, the Employment Committee, mostly with the backing of Socialist, Liberal, Green and centre-left MEPs, voted against the EPP-ED proposals.