Ten years ago, on 2 July 2008, the European Commission proposed a new anti-discrimination directive known as the Equal Treatment Directive or Horizontal Directive. But ten years late, it has yet to be adopted by the Council of the European Union. Tena Šimonović Einwalter, Equinet Chair and Deputy Ombudswoman, and Birgit Van Hout, the regional representative for Europe of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), in an opinion column for Euractiv, say the proposed directive would expand protection throughout the EU against discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation, to the areas of social protection, healthcare, education, housing and access to goods and services. At present, these four grounds are only covered when it comes to employment and vocational training.

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The European Commission has today adopted a Recommendation on standards for equality bodies in order to ensure the independence and effectiveness of national equality bodies. The Recommendation, a legal act of the Commission, sets minimum standards concerning the mandate of equality bodies; their independence; their effectiveness, including sufficient resources and appropriate powers; and the national institutional architecture for equality.
“Discrimination has no place in the EU. We must ensure that our national equality bodies are independent, with the resources to do what they do best. They are the watchdogs of justice, ensuring all citizens are given equal rights and equal opportunities”, according to Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.

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Fundamental rights are not just for the young. They protect everyone regardless of age,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “We need to do a better job of protecting the older members of our communities. It’s high time to translate political commitments into tangible actions. We must stand up for the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of older people.

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