On the 1st of December 2021, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) of the European Parliament organised a hearing on the application of the Employment Equality Directive and the Racial Equality Directive, following the Commission Report published on the topic in March 2021.
If you missed the live coverage, you can access the entire recording, or read our summary, which focuses on the interventions on the Employment Equality Directive and its impact on persons with disabilities:
Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, EMPL Chair, opened the discussion by reminding the fundamental requirements of the Employment Equality directive: “equal treatment of people in employment and vocational training, regardless of their religion, beliefs, disability, age, or sexual orientation”. She also recalled the principles of the Racial Equality Directive.
In her opening speech, European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, reassured participants about the Commission’s priority for the conclusion of the anti-discrimination legislation beyond employment, which has been blocked in the Council by Member States. She also reminded participants of the importance of collaboration between the Member States, equality bodies, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), civil society organisations, and social partners, to fight discrimination and provide the Member States with evidence-based advice to implement both Equality Directives.
MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), shared his wishes for this public hearing: “raising awareness, calling for appropriate actions, caring for full implementation and enforcement” of the directives.
Joanna Goodey, Head of the Research and Data Unit of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), shared concerning findings from an FRA survey regarding victims of discrimination and their mistrust in Member States’ equality bodies and legal actions to fight against discrimination, and their ability to help them have access to justice and meaningful rights. She also recalled that the General Data Protection Regulation should not be used by the Member States as an excuse not to collect data on discrimination at the national level. She also pointed out that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and algorithms can become indirect tools for discrimination due to the use of in-built and undetected biases. (Read our position paper on the Commission proposed regulation on Artificial Intelligence).
During his intervention, Rodolfo Cattani, EDF Executive Committee member and Chair of the EDF Social Policies Committee, reminded the European Parliament about the alarming and disproportionate unemployment rate of persons with disabilities in the EU. He underlined that “employment is a fundamental means for social inclusion. For a person with a disability, gaining employment is a means of mastering their life and a way of building a path in life according to personal talents and interests, but also of strengthening links with the community”.
Rodolfo Cattani also offered some concrete ideas to fight against discrimination and to support the EU Member States in the implementation of the Employment Equality directive towards a more inclusive field of employment:
- provide employers with guidance on minimum standards for reasonable accommodation to help them understand how simple providing adjustments for an employee with disabilities can be
- adopt legislative measures on fair wages and access to trade unions for workers with disabilities
- Allow the Member States to use state aid for initiatives for workers with disabilities
- Ensure that money from the European Social Fund goes towards training persons with disabilities to be better prepared for the job
Would you like to know more about access to trade unions for workers with disabilities? Read our Guide to accessible Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining.
Would you like to learn more about the impact unemployment has on poverty and social exclusion among persons with disabilities? Read our 2020 Human Rights Report on Poverty and Social Exclusion.
Click on the video to listen to EDF’s Executive Committee member and Chair of the EDF Social Policies Committee intervention on the Employment Equality Directive and its impact on persons with disabilities.