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What is equal opportunity? How it is addressed at the European level? Associate Professor Zeynep KIVILCIM Istanbul University.

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Presentation on theme: "What is equal opportunity? How it is addressed at the European level? Associate Professor Zeynep KIVILCIM Istanbul University."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is equal opportunity? How it is addressed at the European level? Associate Professor Zeynep KIVILCIM Istanbul University

2 What does equality of opportunity mean? Formal Equality of Opportunity Substantive Equality of Opportunity

3 What does equality of opportunity mean? Formal equality of opportunity (FEOP): Absence of direct discrimination According to FEOP, the selection process should not be based on some arbitrary or irrelevant criterion such as religion, ethnic origin, gender or skin colour, but rather should emphasize individual abilities and ambition.

4 Formal equality of opportunity (FEOP): The FEOP suggests the ideal society is classless without a social hierarchy being passed from generation to generation. The FEOP fails to take into consideration the glass ceiling phenomenon.

5 Substantive equality of opportunity (SEOP): SEOP differs fundamentally from FEOP. Under SEOP, governments would be expected to actively intervene to ensure EOP. The positive action is an exception specifically designed to allow measures intended to eliminate or reduce actual inequality which exist in the reality of social life.

6 Intergenerational Social mobility Intergenerational social mobility refers to the relationship between the socio-economic status of parents and the status their children will attain as adults. Intergenerational social mobility in a given society reflects the equality of opportunity. The lack of social mobility indicates the intergenerational transmission of disadvantages. Intergenerational mobility depends on different factors; some can be heavily affected by policies.

7 EU Legislation The EU adopted two important pieces of anti- discrimination legislation in 2000: the Racial Equality Directive (2000/43) and the Employment Equality Directive (2000/78). The Racial Equality Directive prohibited discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin in areas including employment, vocational training, education, social protection, housing and the provision of goods and services. The Employment Equality Directive, it prohibited discrimination on a longer list of grounds, such as religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation, but across a more limited material scope (employment and vocational training).

8 Equality of Opportunity in the EU The EU Directives require member states to prohibit discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. In almost every state, all of these discrimination grounds are now prohibited in national law. But the differences of national social context of the discrimination affect the meaning attached to these grounds.

9 The national historical and political contexts of discrimination differ between EU members states. EU member states had different national models for ensuring the equality of opportunity and preventing discrimination: Combatting discrimination by criminal law or by individual litigation rights and individual remedies.

10 Race or ethnic origin? For instance, but for some states, the reference to race and racial groups in legislation is rather common. In contrast some states contest the use of the term race and prefer ethnic origin, What is implied by ethnic origin or ethnic discrimination? This holds a different meaning in the social context of France or in the UK which have the second generation migrants or so-called national minorities and in Hungary, or Bulgaria which deal with the problem of segregation of Roma communities.

11 What disability means? The main distinction is between the medical and the social model. The medical model focuses on the source of disadvantage and the individuals supposedly limited capacity. The social model recognizes that stereotypes linked to disability may be unrelated to actual capacity. This model examines the interaction of the individual with the surrounding environment. Many states have tendency to adopt the medicalised concept of disability.

12 Disparities and Problems In some EU member countries the anti- discrimination legislation remains complex and remedies often inadequate. Problems relative to the tools for the measurement of discrimination, data collection and the monitoring of the situation of the target groups of EU legislation. The mandate and capacity of the national equality institutions differ among member states; Concerns about their institutional independence.

13 European Commissions 2008 Proposal for a New Directive The Directive on Implementing the Principle of Equal Treatment Between Persons Irrespective of Religion or Belief, Disability, Age or Sexual Orientation Complementing existing EC legislation in the field of fight against discrimination, the proposed Directive would prohibit discrimination in the areas of social protection, social advantages, education and access to goods and services, including housing.

14 European Commissions 2008 Proposal for a New Directive Infringing on national competence for certain issues? Concerns about the practical and financial impact of the proposal; Requirements to provide effective non-discriminatory access for disabled persons in particular in relation to housing and transport.

15 The proposal dead or buried? Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the unanimity in the Council is required for the proposal, followed by the consent of the European Parliament. The European Parliament attaches importance to this Directive. But the proposal has for the past years, been stuck without real progress. It is being blocked by some member states led by Germany under the banner of national competency.

16 The proposal dead or buried? The opposing countries include the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania and Malta. Their objections are not only related to Christian mores on sexual orientation. The most sensitive part of the dossier is the access to housing. The sensitivity comes from the potential cost of installing wheelchair access to all sorts of small establishments across EU at a time of economic crisis. The discriminative practices in insurance firms and banks relating the age and disability is one of problematic issues.

17 Conclusion The transposition of the EU legislation enhanced the legal protection against discrimination in the member states. The need for focus on the socio-political context of discrimination and political roots of social disadvantages and inequalities of opportunities.

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