Sunday, 10 April 2011

Times: Malta 'discriminating' against same sex couples – Commission; Malta to clarify same-sex issue
Sunday, 10th April 2011 by Ivan Camilleri, Brussels

The European Commission is to take legal action against Malta for discriminating against EU nationals in same-sex relationships, The Sunday Times has learnt.

Behind closed doors discussions between Malta and Brussels on the interpretation of the free movement directive with regards to same-sex issues have been going on for a year, but remain unresolved .

A Commission spokesman confirmed that Malta and the Commission disagree over the interpretation of a provision in the EU's Freedom of Movement Directive (2004/38/EC), which gives certain rights to family members of EU citizens, irrespective of their nationality and sexual orientation, to move freely and reside in any EU member state.

The Commission is insisting that Malta cannot preclude same sex couples from benefitting from this directive as it is trying to do in its draft legislation to transpose this directive onto Maltese statute books.

"Malta cannot deny certain rights to an EU citizen in a same-sex relationship and then give the same rights to an EU citizen in a heterosexual relationship. It is very clear this would amount to discrimination and we want Malta to (give) the same rights to all EU citizens," a Commission official said.

However, Malta is resisting granting rights to couples of the same sex in this free movement directive, which include residency and work permits, arguing it goes "against public policy".

While recognising that Malta has a problem with the Commission over this legislation, a government spokesman said: "Malta maintains that the provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the right of Union citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of member states have been correctly transposed.

"Malta will be submitting the necessary clarifications in its reply to the Commission's letter," the spokes-man added.

The government said Maltese legislation recognises "the partner with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship" but qualifies it with the sentence "unless such relationship is in conflict with the public policy of Malta".

According to the Commission, Malta told Brussels that same-sex partnerships breached Maltese public policy.

The directive on the right of EU citizens to move and reside freely within the EU member states was enacted in 2004 and brings together the piecemeal measures found in the complex body of legislation that has governed this matter to date.

The new measures are designed, among other things, to encourage EU citizens to exercise their right to move and reside freely within member states and be able to benefit from issues like social benefits.

According to the Commission official, "Malta has already come a long way over this directive", and has amended a number of provisions in its original draft legislation following the Commission's interventions.

However, he said that a serious problem still remained with Article 3 (2) (b) which states that "the host member state shall, in accordance with its national legislation, facilitate entry and residence of the partner with whom the Union citizen has a duly attested durable relationship".

Malta has been given until mid-May to respond to the Commission's first-stage of legal procedures. The Commission will then decide whet her to proceed further with the issue.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

1 comment:

  1. So now its official ,right Patrick?? Not that we needed any official assurance. But here it is. Rights for gay couples in any shape and form go against the PN government's public policy!! No doubts or arguments anymore I suppose now. The writing is on the wall and only the severely blind will not see it!