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EU directives on discrimination by service providers and in education

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This page does not apply outside Great Britain.
Last updated 7th October 2019.

The EU Framework Employment Directive is largely limited to the workplace. This page deals with directives and proposed directives going beyond employment, e.g. on provision of services and education.

Initial comment: In Britain the Equality Act 2010 already gives significant protection in many areas outside of employment, even without any EU directives. Perhaps the main problem in Britain is enforcing these rights.

European Accessibility Act

This directive was passed by the EU in 2019. The text is at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2019/882/oj .

The directive focuses particularly on digital products and services. It sets out requirements for goods and services listed in the directive to be made accessible to disabled people and others with “functional limitations”. EU member states must pass laws to implement the directive by June 2022.

Since the impact of the directive on speech impairments such as stammering may well be limited, and in any event the directive may not be relevant in the UK in the light of Brexit, I am not proposing to say any more on it at the moment.

Proposal for a wider Equal Treatment Directive

Proposal and lack of progress

In 2008 the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new directive on discrimination beyond the workplace, including access to goods and services and education. It would apply to discrimination based on disability as well as religion or belief, age and sexual orientation. The Commission’s 2008 proposal is at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52008PC0426

It is only a proposal and would need the consent of all member states to be adopted as EU law. Progress on it has rather stalled. A “Legislative train schedule” showing what has happened is at www.europarl.europa.eu/legislative-train/theme-area-of-justice-and-fundamental-rights/file-anti-discrimination-directive .

UK Government consultation

The UK published a consultation document on the proposed directive in May 2009, and issued its Summary of Responses (pdf, archived equalities.gov.uk) to the consultation in January 2010. (See also link to original consultation, on archived Govt Equalities Office website).

The then UK Labour Government seemed to support the directive in principle, but would be looking to have various changes made.

UK Work and Pensions Committee

In a report dated April 2009 the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee considered the proposed EU directive.

  • It strongly welcomed the draft directive, but believed the directive must clarify the definition of disability and recommended that the social model should be used (compare its recommendation on UK definition of disability).
  • Multiple discrimination should be covered.
  • The Government should also listen to concerns from the business community – without diminishing any of the existing obligations on business.

Source: paras 267-282 Work and Pensions Committee report The Equality Bill: how disability equality fits within a single Equality Act (parliament.uk).

20th anniversary of stammeringlaw, 1999-2019