Action programme to combat discrimination

Action programme to combat discrimination

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action programme to combat discrimination


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Action programme to combat discrimination (2001-2006)

This Decision establishes an action programme to support and complete the action taken by Member States to combat all forms of discrimination. From 1 January 2007, this programme is replaced by the PROGRESS Community programme.

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2000/750/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a Community action programme to combat discrimination (2001 to 2006).


The goal of this programme was to encourage concrete measures to combat discrimination and to supplement the activities (mainly legislative) of the European Union (EU) and the Member States. Discrimination where a person or group of persons are treated less favourably on the grounds of the characteristics indicated in the Treaty (race, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, etc.) or if the application of an apparently neutral provision is liable to adversely affect this person or group for the same reasons.

The EU wishes in particular:

  • to improve the knowledge and appraisal of the phenomenon through the evaluation of the effectiveness of policies and practice;
  • to develop the capacity of target actors (local authorities, independent bodies, social partners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), etc.), through exchange of information and good practices and the creation of European networks, which in this way will be able to anticipate and tackle discrimination;
  • to promote and disseminate values and practices underlying the fight against discrimination (a particularly important aspect with the prospect of enlargement).

Actions and method

Through this programme, the EU supported the following transnational actions:

  • analysis of factors linked to discrimination (gathering of statistics, studies, evaluation of the effectiveness of policies and dissemination of results);
  • transnational cooperation between the target actors and creation of European networks of NGOs;
  • awareness-raising as regards the European dimension of the fight against discrimination.

These actions were carried out thanks to active cooperation between the Commission, the Member States and civil society. A regular exchange of views between NGOs and the social partners on the design, implementation and follow-up of the programme was organised by the Commission.

An advisory committee, composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the representative of the Commission, assisted the Commission in preparing general guidelines for implementation of the programme, the budget and the annual work plan.

The Commission had to ensure overall consistency of combating discrimination with other EU policies, instruments and actions relating to research, employment, equality between women and men, social inclusion, education, training and youth policy and external relations. Together with the Member States, it coordinated the actions adopted under this programme and under the Structural Funds and the Community Initiative EQUAL.

The European Free Trade Association/European Economic Area countries and the applicant countries were free to participate in the programme.

The budget for the period 2001-2006 was EUR 98.4 million.


Following the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, the European Union is empowered to take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (Article 13 of the EC Treaty).

Community measures to promote equality between men and women were first adopted in the 1970s. On the basis of the experience gained in this area in the field of legislation and practice, the Commission proposed a broader action programme aimed at combating all forms of discrimination referred to in the Treaty, other than discrimination based on gender, which is still the subject of a specific action.

This programme, replaced by the PROGRESS Community programme from 1 January 2007, included a raft of initiatives designed to establish common principles for combating discrimination. A Communication [COM(1999)564 final] sets out the general framework for EU action and, besides the action programme, includes a legislative strand consisting of two directives designed to ensure equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, on the one hand, and in relation to employment and occupation, on the other.



Entry into force – Expiry date

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2000/750/EC 2.12.2000 – 31.12.2006 1.1.2001 OJ L 303 of 2.12.2000

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