On 3 September 2020, Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Izaskun Bilbao Barandica of the Renew Europe Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“In August, the Spanish club Granada Club de Fútbol, which will play in a European competition this season, decided to fire one of its players, goalkeeper Unai Etxebarria, on ideological grounds. The player had appeared in a photo sporting a T-shirt criticising a matter that had received Commission attention because of its gross disproportionality, after a group of youths from Navarra who had been accused of terrorism for their involvement in a bar brawl were handed lengthy prison sentences. Although labour law falls under the competence of each Member State, this is once again a clear breach of the principle of non-discrimination on ideological grounds, enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and constitutes an erosion of the quality of the rule of law in a Member State.
1. Is ideological discrimination compatible with Community values?
2. How can EU intervention in these cases be integrated into the global European Rule of Law Mechanism?”
On 19 January 2021, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission condemns any form of discrimination as it runs against the values the EU is built upon and the prohibition of discrimination under Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. According to Article 51(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, the provisions of the Charter are only addressed to the Member States when they are implementing EC law.
In cases such as the one referred to by the Honourable Member, it is for Member States to ensure respect of fundamental rights in accordance with their constitutional order and their obligations under international law.
The European Rule of Law Mechanism, with the Rule of Law Report at its centre, is a yearly cycle to promote the rule of law and to prevent problems from emerging or deepening.
The Rule of Law report focuses on systemic rule of law issues, related to the justice system, the anti-corruption framework, some aspects of media pluralism and other institutional checks and balances.”
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