Category Archives: Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Since its creation, the European Union (EU) has regarded the fight against discrimination as one of its most pressing missions. Although discrimination, whether direct or indirect, is considered a crime under European law, individuals throughout Europe are prevented on a daily basis from living their social or professional life to the full because of random criteria. For several years the emphasis was placed on preventing discrimination on grounds of nationality or gender. Since 1999, the EU’s powers have expanded to include action against discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. In this area more than any other, civil society organisations act as essential intermediaries between citizens and the European institutions.

Development of relations between the Commission and civil society

Development of relations between the Commission and civil society

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Development of relations between the Commission and civil society

Topics

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

Development of relations between the Commission and civil society

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 11 December 2002, Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue – General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission [COM(2002) 704 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

By establishing a consultation process, the Commission is encouraging the participation of external interested parties in the development of European policies. Starting the consultation at an early stage in the legislative procedure helps to improve the effectiveness of policies whilst reinforcing the involvement of interested parties and the general public.

External consultation process

The consultation and dialogue are part of the European legislative procedure and complement the work of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in the development of policy. The scope of the consultation depends on the potential impact of a proposal on a particular sector or on whether it represents a major policy reform.

This process differs clearly from the internal decision-making process and the specific consultation processes provided for in the treaties or secondary legislation, as well as in international agreements.

The process for the consultation of interested external parties is not legally binding. Moreover, it cannot be indefinite or permanent.

The Commission advocates open governance involving as broad a participation by citizens as possible, in a growing number of fields.

The specific role of organised civil society

Civil society organisations act as relays between citizens and the European institutions, thus encouraging policy dialogue and the active participation of citizens in achieving the aims of the European Union (EU).

The departments of the Commission thus conduct structured dialogue with these organisations. Improving the consultation procedures will guarantee a more consistent and interactive approach. Interactive mechanisms will allow the impact of Community policies to be assessed, via the feedback of information and the consultation of panels.

Information on the Commission’s formal or structured advisory bodies in which civil society organisations participate can be found in the CONECCS database (Consultation, European Commission and Civil Society), which also includes a voluntary list of civil society organisations established at European level.

The Commission also supports the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. These institutional advisory bodies acts as relays for the views of organised civil society and regional and local authorities respectively.

A consistent consultation framework

More systematic consultation calls for a rationalisation of procedures and the availability of a structured channel for participants’ views to be expressed. Interested parties can express their views via the Internet portal ” Your voice in Europe “.

The consultation is subject to certain general principles, relating to:

  • the broadest possible participation of citizens, from the preparation of European policies until their implementation;
  • the openness and responsibility of each European institution, so that the decision-making process is more visible and more easily understandable for everyone;
  • the effectiveness of the consultations, which are conducted at a sufficiently early stage so as to have a real influence on the development of policies;
  • the consistency and flexibility of the consultation procedures, so that they can be adapted to the various categories of interests.

The consultation must respect certain minimum standards, which provide that:

  • the content of the consultation must be clear. All communication must be sufficiently complete and concise to encourage the interested parties to respond;
  • the groups consulted must be representative and able to express their views;
  • the consultation must be publicised as broadly as possible and be geared as far as possible to the target audience;
  • the timeframe for participation must be long enough for the consulted parties to be able to submit their responses, i.e. at least eight weeks for the receipt of written consultations and 20 working days for meetings;
  • information provided by the parties consulted must be accompanied by a receipt, and the results of the consultations must be publicised.

These consultation principles and standards apply in particular to key Commission proposals, identified in the Commission’s programme of work.

These general principles and minimum standards must be complemented by the dissemination of good practices, such as the diversity, responsibility and integrity of the information gathering exercise.

Background

In this Communication, the Commission is fulfilling the undertakings it made in its 2001 White Paper on European governance to reinforce the culture of consultation and dialogue in the European Union.

This Communication also contributes to the ‘Action Plan for Better Regulation’ and the new approach for evaluating the impact of Community legislation.

Key terms used in the act
  • Organised civil society: Although there is no legal definition of this concept, the term may be used to designate all organisations associating parties from the labour market, organisations representing various socio-economic groups, non-government organisations, community-based and denominational organisations. These groups are the main structures in society outside the State and the public administration.
  • Comitology: according to the Treaty establishing the European Community, it is for the Commission to implement legislation at Community level. To do this, it may call on the assistance of a committee comprising representatives of the Member States in order to establish dialogue with the national administrations. The European Parliament also has an important role in the comitology procedure, as it is entitled to express an opinion on the implementation of legislative acts adopted in codecision.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 5 June 2002, Consultation document: Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue – Proposal for general principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission [COM(2002) 277 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission launched a consultation to find out the views of all the parties concerned with the improvement of its external consultation process. These results were incorporated in the final version of the Communication from the Commission concerning the drafting of general principles and minimum standards for consultations.

Commission White Paper of 25 July 2001 on European Governance [COM(2001) 428 final – Official Journal C 287 of 12.10.2001].

Commission Discussion paper of 18 January 2000, The Commission and Non-Governmental Organisations: Building a Stronger Partnership [COM(2000) 11 final – Not published in the Official Journal]
This Discussion Paper emphasises the Commission’s desire to build stronger partnerships with non-government organisations (NGOs). They contribute by their work towards reinforcing participative democracy by improving the representation of certain groups of citizens with the European institutions, as well as with their support for the definition of policies, the management of projects and European integration. Having identified the main issues that hamper such partnerships, the Commission proposes simplifying funding procedures, facilitating access to information and establishing regular dialogue through formalised consultations.

Action programme to combat discrimination

Action programme to combat discrimination

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

Topics

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).

Summary

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.

Background

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.

References

Act

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

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Topics

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

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Document or Iniciative

Rules of procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee.

Summary

Article 303 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU) confers upon the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) the power to self-regulate. These rules of procedure establish the functioning and organisation of the EESC.

THE MEMBERS

In accordance with Article 300 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the Committee consists of representatives of organisations of employers and of the employed. It also includes representatives of civil society, notably in socio-economic, civic, professional and cultural areas.

Moreover, the members are proposed by the governments of the Member States and are appointed by the Council, for five years. Their number cannot exceed 350.

THE COMMITTEE’S CONSTITUENT WORKING BODIES

The bureau

It consists of:

  • the President and the two Vice-Presidents;
  • the three Group Presidents (Group I: employers; Group II: employees; Group III: various economic and social interests);
  • the six section Presidents;
  • a variable number of members, which cannot exceed the number of Member States.

The President is elected from among the members of the three Groups and the Vice-Presidents are elected from among the members of the two Groups to which the President does not belong. They are elected for a period of two years, in accordance with the principle of group rotation.

The Bureau’s chief tasks are as follows:

  • it lays down the organisation and working procedures of the Committee and has political responsibility for its general management;
  • together with the President of the Committee, it exercises the budgetary and financial powers provided for in the Financial Regulation and the Committee’s Articles of Procedure;
  • it lays down the Implementing Provisions of the Rules of Procedure, whose interpretation it clarifies;
  • every six months it examines, on the basis of a report drawn up for this purpose, the action taken on opinions delivered by the Committee.

The Presidency and the President

The Presidency (the President and the two Vice-Presidents) meets with the Group Presidents to prepare the work of the Bureau and the assembly.

The President, elected for two and a half years, directs the work of the Committee. He involves the Vice-Presidents in his activities on a permanent basis. He represents the Committee in its external relations. He reports to the Committee on action and measures taken on its behalf. After his election, he presents his work programme for his term of office at the plenary assembly and presents a review of achievements at the end of his term.

The specialised sections

The Committee comprises six specialised sections:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment;
  • Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion;
  • Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship;
  • External Relations;
  • Single Market, Production and Consumption;
  • Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society.

Other sections may be set up by the plenary assembly on a proposal from the Bureau, in the fields covered by the Treaties. Apart from the President, every member of the Committee must be a member of at least one specialised section and a maximum of two (with exceptions). The members of the sections are appointed by for two and a half years.

The task of the specialised sections is to draw up opinions or information reports on questions referred to them. They may set up from among their members a study group or drafting group or appoint a rapporteur working alone. The rapporteur is responsible for preparing opinions and monitoring action taken on opinions by the European institutions, once the opinion has been adopted in plenary session.

The subcommittees

For some subjects, especially those where different specialised section remits overlap, the Committee may set up ad hoc sub-committees. These subcommittees operate in the same way as the specialised sections and their draft opinions are submitted directly to the Committee for discussion.

The observatories, hearings, experts

The Committee may set up observatories when the nature, extent and specific character of the subject to be dealt with calls for particular flexibility in terms of the working methods, procedures and instruments to be used.

Likewise, if an issue under discussion is of sufficient importance, the various bodies and working units of the Committee may invite guest speakers from outside the Committee to a hearing.

Finally, the President may appoint experts to clarify technical questions posed by the activities.

The consultative commissions

The Committee has the option of setting up consultative commissions. These commissions are made up of members of the Committee and of delegates from areas of civil society that the Committee wishes to involve in its work.

Dialogue between the EU’s social and economic organisations and third countries

Because of its specific mission, the Committee may maintain structured relations with economic and social councils and similar institutions and with civil society organisations in the European Union and third countries. The Committee appoints the delegations responsible for maintaining these relations.

The groups and categories

The Committee is made up of three Groups representing respectively employers, employees and the various other economic and social components of organised civil society. The Groups elect their Presidents and Vice-Presidents. They participate in the preparation, organisation and coordination of the business of the Committee.

  • The Employers’ Group (Group I) has members from private and public sectors of industry, small businesses, chambers of commerce, wholesale and retail trade, banking and insurance, transport and agriculture.
  • The employees’ group (Group II) has members from national trade union organisations, both at the level of confederations and that of sectoral federations.
  • The group including the other components of civil society (Group III) consists of members of farmers’ organisations, consumers’ organisations, small businesses, the crafts sector, liberal professions and NGOs in the field of social protection and environmental protection.

Members of the three groups of the Committee may, on a voluntary basis, form categories representing the various economic and social components of organised civil society in the European Union.

PROCEDURE OF THE COMMITTEE

Consultation of the Committee

The Committee produces opinions requested by the Council, the Commission or the European Parliament.

The Committee may also deliver opinions on its own initiative, information reports or resolutions on any question pertaining to the tasks assigned to the European Union.

Furthermore, the Committee’s opinions set out its position on the issue referred to it. They are generally accompanied by concrete proposals. In its opinions, the Committee defends the interests of civil society in particular, which it represents at European level.

Work of the specialised sections

When an opinion or information report is to be produced, the Bureau designates the specialised section that is to be responsible for preparing the work in question.

The rapporteur, assisted where appropriate by one or more co-rapporteurs and an expert, studies the question referred, collect the views expressed and, on this basis, compile the draft opinion, which is sent to the specialised section for discussion and approval by voting.

Proceedings of the plenary sessions

The Committee meets in plenary assembly during the different sessions (ten sessions each year as a rule). The Committee’s plenary assembly adopts its opinions on the basis of the opinions of the specialised sections and sends them to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament.

The draft agenda is drawn up by the Bureau on a proposal from the Presidency in collaboration with the Group Presidents. It is sent to all Committee members and to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. It is submitted for approval by the assembly before the opening of the relevant session.

Opinions adopted by the Committee and minutes of Committee sessions are sent to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. They are published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Regardless of the legal basis for consultation (mandatory or optional referral) the Committee’s opinions are a legally necessary component in the Council’s final decisions.

FINAL PROVISIONS

Methods of voting

Except where otherwise provided, adoption of the texts and decisions of the Committee and its constituent bodies shall be by a majority of the votes. Voting is by open ballot, by recorded vote, or by secret ballot.

The urgency procedure

Where the urgency results from a deadline for the submission of its opinion imposed on the Committee, the urgency procedure may be applied. The President may, immediately and without consulting the Bureau beforehand, take all requisite steps to enable the Committee to carry out its work. He informs the members of the Bureau of the steps which he takes.

Publication and distribution of Committee texts

The Committee publishes its opinions in the Official Journal of the European Union. Likewise, the names of the members of the Committee, its Bureau and its specialised sections are published in the Official Journal.

The Secretary-General of the Committee is responsible for taking the measures necessary to guarantee the public’s right of access to the corresponding documents. Any citizen of the European Union may write to the Committee in one of the official languages and receive a reply written in the same language

Plenary sessions and meetings of the specialised sections are public. Moreover, the members of the European institutions may attend and address meetings of the Committee and its.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

Topics

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

Promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe

The European Commission is working to encourage and develop the civil dialogue by promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations. This dialogue is intended to inform citizens about social policy development and in particular the implementation of measures designed to combat social exclusion and discrimination. In this Communication, the Commission explains the problems and challenges facing voluntary organisations and foundations with a view to encouraging their development at national and European levels, improving their ability to respond to future needs, and maximising their contribution to European integration.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 6 June 1997 on promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe.[COM(1997) 241 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Civil dialogue may be described as the reciprocal exchange of information between citizens at the grass roots and the European institutions, which facilitates the development of a social policy that is responsive to real needs, from the European level down to the local level, by promoting European citizenship and participation.

The beginnings of a more structured and consistent civil dialogue date back to the Maastricht Treaty, which enshrined Declaration 23 (annexed to the EU Treaty). This declaration stresses the importance of “cooperation between [the European institutions] … and charitable associations and foundations as institutions responsible for welfare establishments and services”.

The social economy consists of three sectors:

  • cooperatives,
  • mutual societies,
  • voluntary organisations.

Among these sectors, the voluntary organisations and foundations are becoming increasingly numerous. In addition, they play an essential role in almost all fields of social activity (sports activities, human rights, development policy, citizens’ interests, etc.). They play a part in creating jobs, in demonstrating active citizenship and in the exercise of democracy. Over time they have begun to contribute to European integration. This is why the Commission has mounted an extensive survey in order to learn more about the sector and to identify the problems to be addressed (the results of the survey are contained in Annex 1).

Over the years the voluntary sector and the European institutions have begun to cooperate more closely (the voluntary sector disseminates information to the public and shares its knowledge and experience with the institutions). There is a genuine political will for systematic consultation at European level, both in preparing and in implementing policies, ever since the adoption of Declaration 23.

However, the voluntary sector has had to address fresh problems and challenges linked to the extension of its role. Voluntary organisations trying to develop transnational European activities encounter a series of obstacles such as:

  • the difficulty in finding partners in other countries for joint projects;
  • the lack of funding at European level;
  • late payment of Community financial aid;
  • the unrepresentative nature of certain organisations;
  • lack of adequate training.

The Commission and the Member States are trying to remedy these problems on an ad hoc basis. The Commission considers it important to put in place a consistent policy and a strategy for this sector. It has put forward a certain number of ideas for examination by the voluntary sector, at both national and European level.

Member States:

In compliance with the subsidiarity principle, the Commission considers that the bulk of the activities must take place at national or even regional or local level, and proposes in particular:

  • learning more about the sector at all levels;
  • developing partnerships between the public authorities and the voluntary sector, while ensuring that they remain truly independent;
  • developing a clearer legal and tax framework for the voluntary organisations and foundations;
  • ensuring that the voluntary sector has adequate training opportunities.

Voluntary organisations and foundations:

The voluntary organisations and foundations should be more open and accessible so that citizens and the public authorities can familiarise themselves with their objectives and working methods.

They should also:

  • diversify their sources of funding;
  • encourage their personnel to seek training;
  • liase more closely with the public authorities and the business community.

Community level:

The dialogue between the voluntary organisations and institutions and Community bodies should be developed, in particular by the Consultative Committee for Cooperatives, Mutual Societies, Associations and Foundations, which aims to ensure the horizontal consultation and coordination of the sector, but also via the European Social Forum.

Parliament has also proposed creating an observatory to monitor the development of the sector in the single market.

Other actions could also be undertaken in order to:

  • improve access to European training programmes for members of voluntary organisations that wish to expand in Europe;
  • promote access to certain Community funds;
  • create a special fund in order to encourage transnational activities by the voluntary organisations.

The Commission is keen to mount a large-scale dialogue involving the sector, the European institutions, the Member States and other interested parties, in order to scrutinise the proposals set out in this Communication. It plans to organise a series of conferences and seminars to discuss this Communication and the questions it raises.

Related Acts

European Parliament Resolution on the Communication from the Commission on promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe [COM(97)0241 C4-0546/97].

 

Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

Topics

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

Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers

  • free movement of workers;
  • employment and remuneration;
  • improvement of working conditions;
  • social protection;
  • freedom of association and collective bargaining;
  • vocational training;
  • equal treatment for men and women;
  • information, consultation and participation of workers;
  • health protection and safety at the workplace;
  • protection of children, adolescents, elderly persons, and disabled persons.

These social rights represent a foundation of minimum provisions common to all the European Union (EU) Member States. The provisions of the Charter were kept by the Lisbon Treaty (Article 151 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) and by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Context

The Charter was adopted in accordance with the preamble of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, which recognised the need to continually work towards improving the living and working conditions of European citizens.

It was only adopted by the United Kingdom in 1998 as part of the integration of the principles of the Charter into the Amsterdam Treaty.

Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS

Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS

Topics

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

Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 1672/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 establishing a Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity — PROGRESS [Official Journal L 315 of 15.11.2006] [See amending act(s)].

Summary

Up to now, Community activities in the fields of employment, social inclusion and protection, promoting gender equality and the principle of non-discrimination have been supported by separate action programmes.

With a view to improving coherence and efficiency, the European Commission has proposed to group these subjects together in a single framework programme known as PROGRESS.

GENERAL OBJECTIVES

The programme has six objectives:

  • to improve knowledge and understanding of the social situation of the Member States through analysis, evaluation and close monitoring of policies;
  • to support the development of statistical tools and methods and common indicators;
  • to support and monitor the implementation of legislation and policy objectives;
  • to promote networking, mutual learning, and the identification and dissemination of good practice at EU level;
  • to make stakeholders and the general public aware of European Union (EU) policies in the fields of employment, social protection and inclusion, working conditions, diversity and non-discrimination, and equality between men and women;
  • to boost the capacity of the key EU networks to promote and support EU policies.

STRUCTURE: FIELDS OF ACTIVITY AND TYPES OF ACTION

The programme is divided into the following five sections:

  • employment;
  • social protection and inclusion;
  • working conditions;
  • diversity and combating discrimination;
  • equality between women and men.

The programme will finance the following types of action:

  • analyses;
  • mutual learning, awareness-raising and dissemination activities;
  • support for the main players; i.e. contributing to the operating costs of the main networks in the Union, the formation of working groups, funding training seminars, creating networks of specialist bodies and observatories at EU level, staff exchanges between national administrations and cooperation with international institutions.

The programme has a list of operational objectives for each of the sections.

Employment

The objective of this section is to support implementation of the European Employment Strategy by:

  • improving understanding of the employment situation, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators;
  • monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the European Employment Guidelines and Recommendations and analysing the interaction between the EES and other policy areas;
  • organising exchanges on policies and processes and promoting mutual learning in the context of the EES;
  • reinforcing awareness-raising, disseminating information and promoting debate, in particular among regional and local players and the social partners.

Social protection and inclusion

This section will support the implementation of the Open Method of Coordination in the field of social protection and inclusion by:

  • improving understanding of poverty issues and social protection and inclusion policies, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators;
  • monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Open Method of Coordination in the field of social protection and inclusion and analysing the interaction between this method and other policy areas;
  • organising exchanges on policies and processes and promoting mutual learning in the context of the social protection and inclusion strategy;
  • raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting debate, in particular among NGOs and regional and local players;
  • developing the ability of the main EU networks (e.g. of national experts or NGOs) to pursue the EU’s policy objectives.

Working conditions

This section will support the improvement of the working environment and conditions, including health and safety at work, by:

  • improving the understanding of the situation in relation to working conditions, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators, as well as assessing the impact of existing legislation, policies and practices;
  • supporting the implementation of EU labour law through reinforced monitoring, training of practitioners, development of guides and networking amongst specialised bodies;
  • initiating preventive actions and fostering the prevention culture in the field of health and safety at work;
  • raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting the debate about the main challenges and policy issues relating to working conditions.

Diversity and combating discrimination

This section will support the effective implementation of the principle of non-discrimination and promote its mainstreaming in EU policies by:

  • improving understanding of the discrimination situation, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators, as well as assessing the impact of existing legislation, policies and practices;
  • supporting the implementation of EU anti-discrimination legislation through reinforced monitoring, training of practitioners and networking amongst specialised bodies dealing with combating discrimination;
  • raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting the debate about the main challenges and policy issues in relation to discrimination and the mainstreaming of anti-discrimination in EU policies;
  • developing the ability of the main EU networks (e.g. of national experts or NGOs) to pursue the Union’s policy objectives.

Gender equality

This section will support the effective implementation of the principle of gender equality and promote gender mainstreaming in EU policies by:

  • improving the understanding of the situation in relation to gender equality issues and gender mainstreaming, in particular through analyses and studies and the development of statistics and indicators, as well as assessing the impact of existing legislation, policies and practices;
  • supporting the implementation of EU gender equality legislation through reinforced monitoring, training of practitioners and networking amongst specialised equality bodies;
  • raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting debate about the main challenges and policy issues in relation to gender equality and gender mainstreaming;
  • developing the ability of the main EU networks (e.g. of national experts or NGOs) to pursue the Union’s policy objectives.

ACCESS TO THE PROGRAMME AND PARTICIPATION BY THIRD COUNTRIES

Access to this programme is open to all public and/or private bodies, players and institutions, in particular:

  • Member States;
  • public employment services;
  • local and regional authorities;
  • specialised bodies provided for under EU legislation;
  • the social partners;
  • non-governmental organisations organised at EU level;
  • universities and research institutes;
  • experts in evaluation;
  • the national statistical institutes;
  • the media.

The programme is also open to the EFTA/EEA countries, associated candidate countries and countries of the western Balkans participating in the stabilisation and association process.

TYPES OF ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE

Actions may be funded by:

  • a service contract following a call for tenders;
  • a partial subsidy following a call for proposals. In this case, the EU co-financing may not, as a general rule, exceed 80 % of the total expenditure incurred by the recipient.

FINANCING

The budget proposed is EUR 683 250 000 million for the period 2007-2013. The breakdown of funding between the different sections will comply with the following lower limits:

  • Employment 23 %
  • Social protection and inclusion 30 %
  • Working conditions 10 %
  • Diversity and combating discrimination 23 %
  • Gender equality 12 %.

The remaining 2 % will be used to cover programme management expenses.

A budget of EUR 60 million has been allocated to the new microfinance facility Progress for employment and social inclusion for the period 2007-2013.

SIMPLIFICATION

The proposed approach will contribute to the key objective of simplifying instruments, in both legal and management terms, and streamlining the budget structure.

In the implementation of the programme, the Commission will be assisted by a single Programme Committee, instead of four as previously.

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

The Commission will draw up annual activity reports and send them to the Programme Committee. The programme will also be subject to a mid-term evaluation. An ex-post evaluation covering the whole programme will be carried out, one year after it ends, by the Commission with the assistance of external experts, in order to measure the impact of the programme objectives and its EU added value.

BACKGROUND

In its 2004 communication on the new financial framework for 2007-2013, the Commission identified the implementation of the social policy agenda as an important tool contributing to the goal of competitiveness for growth and employment.

In order to achieve the Lisbon objectives, the social policy agenda is based on a combination of instruments, in particular legislation, the Open Method of Coordination, European social dialogue, and the European Social Fund and other financial instruments managed directly by the Commission.

PROGRESS responds to the Commission’s desire to simplify and rationalise the financial instruments in the area of employment and social policy.

References

Act Entry into force and expiry date Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 1672/2006/EC

1.1.2007 – 31.12.2013

OJ L315 of 15.11.2006

Amending Act(s) Entry into force date Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 284/2010/EU

8.4.2010

OJ L 87 of 7.4.2010

Related Acts


Decision 283/2010/UE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2010 establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion [Official Journal L 87 of 7.4.2010].
The new Progress microfinance facility shall finance:

  • the creation of businesses or self-employment by persons excluded from the labour market and persons who do not have access to the conventional credit market;
  • micro-enterprises who employ persons who are socially excluded.

This instrument is aimed at public and private bodies who offer microfinance to individuals or micro-enterprises.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 3 June 2009 – “A Shared Commitment for Employment” [COM(2009) 257 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities

Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities

Topics

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

Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 2 July 2008 – Non-discrimination and equal opportunities: A renewed commitment [COM(2008) 420 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication renews the Commission’s commitment to fight against discrimination and to promote equal opportunities by establishing a comprehensive approach to step up action to that end. It also presents the developments in the legal framework against discrimination and in the policy tools for promoting equal opportunities.

An effective legal framework, which is properly enforced, is paramount to fighting discrimination and to guaranteeing efficient systems of redress for victims. Hence, the Commission is committed to monitoring the Member States implementation of the existing legal framework, which consists of Council Directives:

  • 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin;
  • 2008/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation;
  • 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services.

The Commission reported on the implementation of the first two directives in 2006 and 2008, whereas a report on the 2004 directive is expected for 2010. Overall, the implementation of the directives has been perceived as positive. Nevertheless, approximately half of the Member States have not fulfilled their obligations in terms of scope, definitions or provisions on victims’ assistance.

The Commission is also involved in facilitating the cooperation and information exchanges between, as well as the capacity-building of, national equality bodies. These bodies are particularly important in informing and assisting victims in dispute resolutions. Based on their work, the Commission will examine whether penalties and time limits for brining actions before courts are effective at the national level.

At the European level, however, the existing legal framework for fighting discrimination is incomplete, the scope of protection differing from ground to ground. Consequently, the Commission published, together with this communication, a proposal for a directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008) 426), which aims to complete the legal framework on anti-discrimination. The directive will prohibit all forms of discrimination and harassment on the above-mentioned grounds beyond the workplace and provide appropriate redress systems for victims throughout the European Union (EU).

A range of policy tools are also needed to complement the legal framework, in order to promote equal opportunities effectively. The Commission is committed to strengthening the:

  • mainstreaming of non-discrimination into all Community policies, building in particular on the achievements of the EU’s disability strategy and the roadmap for equality between women and men for 2006-10;
  • measuring of discrimination and evaluating of progress, to which end it will examine whether the regular collection of statistics on the scale and impact of discrimination and the establishment of a EU-survey module on discrimination are feasible;
  • use of positive action by Member States, especially to enhance equal opportunities for access to education, employment, housing and health care;
  • awareness-raising and training activities on current legislation for the main stakeholders by providing them with further support. It will also continue its EU information campaign ‘For Diversity – Against Discrimination’;
  • promotion of the benefits of diversity at the workplace by encouraging the development of voluntary EU-wide initiatives, further collaboration between businesses and educational institutions, and improving diversity management in public administrations at all levels.

The dialogue on non-discrimination and equal opportunities among relevant stakeholders, which was launched with the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All (2007), will be continued on an annual basis through the equality summits. In addition, a governmental expert group on non-discrimination has been established to carry out impact assessments on and develop benchmarks for measures and policies, as well as to substantiate best practice. One of its first themes of work will be multiple discrimination.

The Commission feels that it is also important to take into consideration the particular concerns of specific groups, such as that of the Roma. The Commission staff working document on community instruments and policies for Roma inclusion, which accompanies this communication, responds to that need.

The principle of equal treatment between persons

The principle of equal treatment between persons

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The principle of equal treatment between persons

Topics

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

The principle of equal treatment between persons

Document or Iniciative

Proposal for a Council Directive of 2 July 2008 on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Summary

This proposal for a Directive aims to protect people against discrimination linked to their disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or beliefs.

The implementation of the principle of equal treatment between persons shall complete the legal framework of the European Union (EU), which consists of the Directives on equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market and equal treatment in employment and occupation.

Scope

The principle of equal treatment corresponds to the prohibition of direct discrimination * and indirect discrimination * . It applies to everybody in the private or public sector and in public bodies. Its scope covers social protection (including social security and health care), social advantages, education, as well as access to and supply of goods and services, such as housing and transport.

Specific measures and accommodation shall be provided by anticipation, to enable people with disabilities to have effective and non-discriminatory access to the scope of the Directive. However, these measures should not represent a disproportionate burden. This burden can be remedied by measures adopted within the framework of national equal treatment policies.

The application of the principle of equality as provided for in the draft Directive is without prejudice to national legislation related to the secular nature and organisation by Member States of their educational systems. The principle shall not apply to differences in treatment based on religion or beliefs with regard to access to educational institutions founded on religion or beliefs. Furthermore, the scope of the proposal does not cover differences in treatment based on the nationality or legal status of foreigners in the territory of Member States.

Member States may introduce or maintain more protective provisions than the minimum requirements provided for in the Directive, as well as positive discrimination measures aimed at compensating for disadvantages linked to religion or belief, age, disability or sexual orientation.

Remedies

All persons wronged by a violation of the principle of equal treatment or who have a legitimate interest in ensuring compliance with the principle, should have access to judicial and administrative remedies.

Member States should take measures to adapt their judicial system, specifically by sharing the burden of proof between the complainant and the respondent and by introducing measures to protect people who have made a complaint of discrimination against potential victimisation.

They should also establish independent bodies whose activities should aim to:

  • support victims in their legal proceedings;
  • publish studies and reports on discriminations.

Context

This proposal for a Directive originated from the priorities of the Renewed Social Agenda and the framework strategy for non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all.

This proposal is in-line with the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Key terms of the Act
  • Direct discrimination: discrimination caused when one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation.
  • Indirect discrimination: discrimination caused when an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would lead to a particular disadvantage compared with other persons. Unless it is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.

References And Procedures

Proposal Official Journal Procedure

COM(2008) 426 final

CNS/2008/0140

Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

Topics

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

Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin.

Summary

This Directive is based on the principle of equal treatment between persons. It forbids all direct * or indirect * discrimination based on race or ethnic origin, as well as harassment * and any behaviour which makes one person discriminate against another person.

The Directive applies to all persons and to all sectors of activity, regarding:

  • access to employment and to unpaid activities, specifically during recruitment;
  • working conditions, including concerning hierarchical promotion, pay and dismissals;
  • access to vocational training;
  • involvement in workers’ or employers’ organisations, and in any professional organisation;
  • access to social protection and to health care;
  • education;
  • social advantages, access to goods and services, particularly housing.

The Directive does not cover difference of treatment based on nationality, or the conditions of entry and residence for citizens from third countries in the European Union (EU).

Derogations from the principle of equal treatment

In the field of employment, a derogation may be authorised where race or ethnic origin constitutes a fundamental professional requirement. This derogation must be justifiable by the nature of the activity and the conditions under which it is exercised. It must be legitimate and proportionate.

Lastly, the directive does not oppose positive action, namely national measures aimed at preventing or compensating for disadvantages connected with race or ethnic origin.

Remedies and enforcement

Anyone who believes they are a victim of a failure to comply with the principle of equal treatment must be able to access legal and/or administrative procedures, even if the relationship in question has ended. Associations or other interested legal persons may also undertake judicial proceedings either on behalf of or in support of the complainant.

The burden of proof falls on the party accused, who must prove that the principle of equal treatment has not been infringed. The complainant must be protected against any adverse treatment or adverse consequence as a reaction to the proceedings.

Social dialogue and civil dialogue

The social partners ensure the promotion of equal treatment, specifically by monitoring practices in the workplace, producing codes of conducts and concluding collective agreements. More generally, the Directive encourages the conclusion of agreements establishing non-discrimination rules in the fields which fall within the scope of collective bargaining.

Civil dialogue with the civil society organisations concerned is also encouraged.

Bodies for the promotion of the principle

Each Member Sates must establish at least one body dedicated to combating discrimination, in particular responsible for helping victims and conducting independent studies.

Context

This Directive is supplemented by the provisions on equal treatment in employment and occupation

The Treaty of Lisbon (Article 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) provides the EU with a legal basis to combat all forms of discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Key terms
  • Direct discrimination: decimation caused where one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable.
  • Indirect discrimination: discrimination caused where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice is likely to put someone at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless it is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
  • Harassment: unwanted conduct with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The concept of harassment may be defined in accordance with the national laws and practice of the Member States.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2000/43/EC

19.7.2000

19.7.2003

OJ L 180 of 19.7.2000

RELATED ACTS

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 30 October 2006 – The application of Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin [COM(2006) 643 final – Not published in the Official Journal].