Written Answers. - Non-Discrimination Clause in European Treaties.

Mary Wallace

Ceist:

117 Miss M. Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the current status of the discussions on the proposal to include a non-discrimination clause in the European Treaties. [16898/96]

One of the issues which is under discussion at the Intergovernmental Conference — IGC — is the possible incorporation of antidiscrimination provisions into the treaties. The Irish Presidency has tabled a possible approach in this area which is contained in the Presidency Introductory Note on Fundamental Rights dated 26 July 1996 which has been forwarded to the Oireachtas Library. The Presidency Note, referred to above, deals in so far as discrimination is concerned, with two main possibilities: the incorporation of a non-discrimination clause in the Treaty (a supplement to Article F of the Treaty on European Union has been suggested) which would stipulate that discrimination shall be prohibited on grounds of race, sex, national or ethnic origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion and social origin and the establishment of a legal basis in the Treaty (a new Article 6a in the Treaty establishing the European Communities has been suggested) which would permit the European Institutions to adopt appropriate legislative provisions in respect of discrimination.

The Presidency Note also includes the possibility of an amendment to Article 100a with a view to ensuring that in drawing up internal market standards the Council shall take into account the needs of people with a disability. In addition to the possible approach to discrimination outlined above, the Presidency Note on Fundamental Rights suggests the possibility of strengthening the principle of equality between men and women in other ways in the Treaty. While the initial reaction to the Presidency Note including the approach to discrimination and equality has, in broad terms, been reasonably positive, a key consideration is that all Treaty amendments must be approved unanimously by the member states. It is too early to predict what the final outcome will be on any of the issues under consideration at the Intergovernmental Conference.