De Jong: outcome of debate on discrimination against same sex couples good first step

8 September 2010

De Jong: outcome of debate on discrimination against same sex couples good first step

Yesterday evening saw a debate in the European Parliament on the rights of same-sex couples who move to a different member state. During the debate, which took place on the initiative of the SP, Commissioner Vivienne Reding acknowledged that in European law everyone who took advantage of freedom of movement must have the same rights.

Dennis de Jong This means that couples of the same sex, provided they have married or registered as a couple, should they move to another member state, must in general be able to retain their rights in matters such as social security and pensions, and may not be treated as individuals without formal connection.

The Commissioner, however, remained vague when it came to the way in which she intends to deal with states which fail to respect these rules. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains that ‘this is why I have agreed that we will use written questions to put pressure on the Commission to produce a report this year on the state of affairs regarding this and further actions which they intend to take in order to guarantee that everyone really does receive the same rights.’

The agreement during yesterday evening’s debate was with Dutch colleagues from Labour, the Green Left and centrists D66. “We see the acknowledgement by the European Commission that the rules have been broken a first step, but now we want to see results. In November the European Bureau for Human Rights will publish an overview of member states which discriminate against same-sex couples. We expect this to be followed directly by a European Commission action plan.”

The European Commissioner stated during the debate that she is already in talks with those member states which are at fault but that this had not so far led to any measures being taken. According to the Commission same-sex couples come within the scope of the directive guaranteeing freedom of movement for workers. This means that addressing such discrimination requires no new European laws or harmonisation measures but mutual recognition of the family law of the member states.

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