The European Union’s highest court ruled last Tuesday that private companies are authorized to prohibit female employees from wearing headscarves at job. It stated that banning “the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” cannot be found as direct discrimination.
The ruling of the European Court of Justice dictated that enterprises were legitimized to forbid these symbols so as to project a neutral image to the public. However, customers will not be authorized to request female workers to remove headscarves if the company has no regulations disallowing religious symbols.
Countries such as France, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands have already passed laws to ban full face-covering veils in public and government spaces or are considering doing so. Precisely, the ruling on this politically explosive issue appears when the European Union faces a critical election season, with races in the Netherlands, France and Germany.
With anti-immigrant and anti-Islam populism increasing in many European countries, the ruling of the European Court of Justice will be binding for the 28 member states of the Union.
Turkey’s relationship with Europe has weakened during the weekend after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish president, blamed the Dutch government of being Nazi and Turkish politicians were banned from a political event in the Netherlands.
While this month German officials have been criticized for forbidding Turkish campaigns to vote yes to the referendum which would expand Erdogan’s powers, the Dutch government impeded the landing of the Turkish foreign minister and escorted the Turkish family minister out of the country.
The government of Netherlands, which has generally considered an open approach to face different attitudes, is in the middle of an assertive election campaign that has immigration as the primary issue.
Elsewhere in Europe, countries such as Denmark, Sweden, France, Switzerland or Austria have backed the decision taken by the Dutch government and made it clear that Erdogan’s campaign is unwelcome there.
European countries have accepted up to 10% of the total 160,000 refugees that were estimated to be moved from unhygienic and overcrowded camps in Italy and Greece, being Malta and Finland the only ones meeting refugee relocation obligations.
This means that countries have only accomplished 8% of pledged refugee resettlements. More precisely, 13,546 relocations have been carried out so far, 3,936 coming from Italy and 9,610 from Greece. The European Commission warns that it will admit “no more excuses”.
While countries such as Hungary, Austria and Poland refused to participate in the European resettlement plan, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and many other are carrying it out on a “very limited basis”.
Meanwhile, the European Commission insisted that the treaty between the European Union and Turkey is working fine a year after its ratification. Crossings from Turkey to Greece have decreased from 10,000 people in a single day to 43 per day currently, with overall entrances going down by 98%.