The EC Commission has adopted three proposals to combat discrimination under Article 13 of the EC Treaty (introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam, which came into force on 1st May 1999). These proposals are:
• a directive prohibting discrimination in employment, outlawing direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of racial and ethnic original, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation (I have highlighted the grounds not currently recognised under UK law);
• a directive prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin in a wider range of areas, namely employment, edication, the provision of goods and services, and social protection;
• an action programme designed to support and complement the implementation of the directives through the exchange of information and experience, and the dissemination of 'best practices' in both legislative and non-legislative areas.
David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, has welcomed the proposals in principle. He says:
"We must ensure that any new legislation gives maximum protection from discrimination, but that it is also practically workable and easy to use for employers. Our support for these important measures shows that we continue to be at the forefront of European action to fight discrimination effectively."
I will disseminate further details as and when they become available.