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Translation of Letter from Madame Odile Quintin, Director General of Employment and Social Affairs, European Commission to Keith Jenkins, Director, Church and Society Commission of CEC

13 November 2000

Dear Sir,

Commissioner Diamontopoulou has asked me tο reply tο the Ietter in which you set οut your positions with regard tο the Commission ' s proposal for a Council directive dealing with the creation of a general framework faνouring equal treatment ίη employment and occupation.

In this letter , you underline the right of religious organisations tο maintain their own religious identity. Υοu express more specifically your concem with regard tο the fact that the Commission ' s proposal could threaten religious freedom in requiring that an employer engage someone whose religious convictions are Iikely tο come into conflict with the religious identity of the institution or organisation concemed.

As you perhaps know, the Social Affairs Council of 17 October came tο a political agreement οn this proposal. Paragraph 2 of article 4 of the adopted text conceming "professional requirements" deals especially with this question. Iι is clear that in organisations with religious objectives, certain jobs or professions must be undertaken by workers who share the same religious opinions. Paragraph 2 ofarticle 4 ofthe directive allows the religious employer tο justify differences oftreatment based οn religion or beliefifthey are necessary tο the maintenance ofthe identity ofthe organisation or institution concemed and tο require people working for them tο act in good faith and tο show loyalty with regard tο the identity of the organisation.

Nevertheless, this provision does not create a general exemption and it provides that difference of treatment which can be justified by invoking a real, Iegitimate and justified professional requirement for a specific work will depend οn the context or the nature ofthe work. The directive also indicates very clearly that this provision cannot serve tο justify discrimination based οn nο matter what other reason.


Yours faithfully,

Odile Quintin

OriginaI in French

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