Frans Timmermans, newly appointed European Commission First Vice-President and Commissioner for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, met eight fundamental rights NGOs on 9 January 2015 to discuss the EU fundamental rights and equality framework in the five years to come with the new Commission. For this fundamental rights round table, seven organisations published a joint statement.
In this joint statement the NGOs criticize for example the non-adoption of the proposed Equal Treatment Directive, stuck in the Council because of several member states' opposition. Moreover, they blame persisting discrimination against elderly and young people, Muslims and Jews, LGBTI persons, disabled people, as well as hate or crime on grounds of race and ethnic origin; sexual orientation or gender identity; and religion or belief.
The NGOs therefore urge Mr. Timmermans to adopt a holistic approach for equality and against discrimination.
Their main claims are to:
- keep pushing for a strong anti-discrimination Directive with a broad scope of application,
- propose an overarching internal human rights strategy,
- ensure compliance of Commission’s proposals with the EU Charter of fundamental rights,
- make use of existing data relating to human rights and call for the systematic collection of data when gaps are identified,
- open infringement proceedings when Member States violate EU human rights law including EU non-discrimination legislation,
- ensure that identified legal barriers are rapidly overcome and EU accession to the ECHR made possible,
- create meaningful consultation mechanisms with civil society.