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Blunkett backs EC plans to combat discrimination at work


Plans by the European Commission (EC) to tackle unfair discrimination at work, published today, have been welcomed by Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett. The EC has proposed:

* a Directive covering discrimination at work on grounds of disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief;
* a Directive aimed at combating racism in a range of areas, including employment;
* an action programme to promote best practice in anti-discrimination measures.

Mr Blunkett said:
"This Government is firmly committed to combating discrimination. The UK has a good record in this area and I am confident that we can help develop anti-discrimination practices across Europe. The extension of such measures will ensure fair treatment for British nationals working or studying in other Member states.
"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."


* The Commission proposals published today are for three pieces of action:

* an employment related directive (called "horizontal" directive by the Commission because of its wide scope) dealing with direct and indirect discrimination in employment alone on all of the grounds covered by Article 13 (except sex which is already covered under EU legislation);

* a directive dealing specifically with racial discrimination in employment, education, social security, provision of goods and services and cultural activities (called "vertical" by the Commission because of its narrow scope);


* an action programme covering equal opportunities.

2. These proposals are the first to be brought forward under Article 13 of the European Treaty - a new article inserted as a result of the Treaty of Amsterdam which extends EU competence in the area of equal opportunities. Prior to the Amsterdam Treaty, EU competence in this area was limited to issues of gender. Under Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty EU competence is expanded to cover discrimination on grounds of, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.


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