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Proposals for Legislative Measures to Combat Racism and to Promote Equal Rights in the European Union


In this publication, the Starting Line Group modifies and represents its proposal for a directive, using Article 13 EC as the legal basis.

At the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference which began in 1996 and was completed in June 1997 with the signing of the Treaty of Amsterdam, numerous changes had been adopted, among them an inclusion in the new treaty of Article 13, to which the Starting Line Group and other non-governmental organisations contributed extensively. This new article effectively gives competence to the European institutions to act within the area of the struggle against discrimination.

The Starting Line Group, whose real goal is to propose measures aimed at fighting racial and religious discrimination, has therefore decided to modify and re-present its proposal for a Starting Line directive. This proposal, developing in 1993, could not lead to the adoption of concrete measures because of the lack of a legal basis in the treaty that was in force at the time.

The Starting Line Group has decided to use the new Article 13 as a legal basis for this new proposal for a directive. During the drafting process, concern arose as the situation of nationals of third party countries, and more specifically as to their rights of admission or residence. Even though the Starting Line Group is of the opinion that Article 13 covers non-European citizens discriminated against by virtue of ‘their racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief’, since this article does not include discrimination according to nationality, it is unrealistic to include questions concerning the admission and residence of third country nationals in a project aimed at eliminating racial and religious discrimination. This is why the Starting Line Group has decided to present a second proposal for a directive whose goal is not to create new rights within the area of immigration, but to strengthen the rights, and improve the treatment, of workers who are nationals of third party countries arriving in European territory. This new proposal also forms a response to the project for a convention on the rules for admission of nationals of third party countries in the member states presented by the European Commission in July 1997.

At the same time, it seemed to us to be indispensible to insist once again on the necessity for a specific measure concerning the possibility for nationals of third party countries residing legally in the territory of the European Union to be able to exercise the civil rights attached to European citizenship, the right to vote as well as eligibility for municipal and European elections.