Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 July 2015
It is not surprising, considering European integration and increasing migration, that non-discrimination law in the European Union has developed significantly. Europe has experienced many terrible events due to intolerance. The development of non-discrimination law in Europe attempts to create a community of tolerance and reciprocal respect in order to avoid future experiences born of discrimination. The right not to be subjected to discrimination is mentioned in numerous sources of international law, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right not to be discriminated against is embodied in the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 14) and in Article E of the Revised European Social Charter. Therefore, European legislation also identifies the right not to be discriminated against as a fundamental freedom.
There is another explanation for non-discrimination law: discrimination is an obstacle to the free movement of people. In order for the EU to attain its fundamental objectives, it needs to combat every form of discrimination. The cultural diversity of Europe, which is of great value, is also endangered by discriminatory practices. Therefore, the basis of EU non-discrimination law is prominently placed in the primary Sources of the Union. Articles 12 and 13 EC [Articles 18 and 19 TFEU] deal directly with the issue of discrimination. Article 12 [Article 18 TFEU] prohibits any kind of discrimination based on nationality (that is, Member State nationality). It also contains a basis for the Council to adopt rules designed to prohibit such discrimination. Article 13(1) [Article 19(1) TFEU] provides the Council with a further competence to adopt unanimously, following a proposal of the Commission and after consultation with the European Parliament, appropriate measures in order to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.