Category Archives: Combating discrimination

The European Union (EU) combats discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation. In addition, all discrimination on the grounds of nationality is prohibited by the Treaties. The right to non-discrimination is further reinforced by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which has the same legal value as the Treaties.
The EU legal framework on anti-discrimination was initiated in 2000. It contains three directives, namely equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, in employment and between men and women outside the labour market. Member States and the Union institutions and authorities are assisted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) when implementing EU law on anti-discrimination. Financial assistance is provided by the PROGRESS 2007-13 programme.

Action plan against racism

Action plan against racism

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action plan against racism

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Combating discrimination

Action plan against racism

Building on the achievements of the European Year against Racism (1997) [Resolution of the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, of 23 July 1996 – Official Journal C 237 of 15.08.1996]to establish a coherent framework for combating racism at European level and to prepare the ground for future and more ambitious action within the framework of the new Treaty provisions on non-discrimination.

2) Community Measures

Commission Communication of 25 March 1998 concerning an action plan against racism.

3) Contents

The continuing presence of racism, xenophobia and anti-semitism presents a major challenge to our societies: according to a 1997 Eurobarometer opinion poll, 33 % of those interviewed openly described themselves as “quite racist” or “very racist”. While the fight against racism is first and foremost a responsibility for the Member States, the transnational dimension of the phenomenon justifies a response at European level.

The European Year against Racism (1997) sparked off a broad range of initiatives at all levels, established a European platform of anti-racism non-governmental organisations and launched major information and communication campaigns. Moreover, public opinion expressed clear support for strengthening the role of the European institutions in the fight against racism.

In any case, the Commission had already, in its communication of 13 December 1995 [COM(95) 653 final], underlined its determination to take action to combat racism, xenophobia and anti-semetism. In 1995 a series of resolutions were adopted at Community level in order to introduce different levels of responsibility into this combat:

  • Resolution of 5 October 1995 on the fight against racism and xenophobia in the fields of employment and social affairs [Official Journal C 296, 10.11.1995];
  • Resolution of the Council of 23 October 1995 on the response of educational systems to the problems of racism and xenophobia [Official Journal C 312, 23.11.1995];
  • European Parliament Resolution of 27 April 1995 on racism, xenophobia and anti-semitism [Official Journal C 126, 22.05.1995];
  • European Parliament Resolution of 26 October 1995 on racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism [Official Journal C 308, 20.11.1995].

Great strides forward were also made on a political level:

  • the Treaty of Amsterdam now includes a general non-discrimination clause which will make it possible for the Council, after ratification of the Treaty, “to take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation” on the basis of proposals by the Commission;
  • a European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia was created in June 1997; it will set up and coordinate a European Racism and Xenophobia Network (RAXEN).

The action plan proposes to bring together in a partnership all the players involved in the fight against racism in the European Union:

  • the Member States, which are responsible for combating racism, by strengthening the exchange of experience between them;
  • non-governmental organisations, which play a crucial role in ensuring that the fight against racism remains on the political agenda;
  • the social partners, who have a major part to play in preventing racial tensions at the workplace and ensuring equal opportunities in employment generally;
  • local authorities, whose closeness to the citizen gives them a key role to play in trying out innovative approaches;
  • the media, which have responsibility for both providing information that highlights the dangers of racism and ensuring that the information provided is free from stereotyping and prejudice;
  • sports bodies and personalities.

The action plan against racism consists of four main strands.

Paving the way for legislative initiatives: the aim is to continue the non-discriminatory application of Community legislation and to present a legislative proposal to combat racial discrimination;

Mainstreaming the fight against racism: the sectors which could make a particularly useful contribution are employment strategy, the Structural Funds, education, training and youth, the information society, justice and home affairs, communication, audiovisual and culture, public procurement, research and external relations. The Commission will continue to apply the principles of non-discrimination in its own policies and internal practices; an inter-service group will be established as a tool for promoting the fight against racism as a mainstreaming principle across its policies;

Developing and exchanging new models, by granting funding to projects and initiatives focusing on the following areas: racism in the workplace, racism in everyday life, the role of the media, racism in sport and combating racism through sport, legal measures to combat racism. The Commission will endeavour to promote contacts and exchanges between projects at European level;

Strengthening information and communication work, by continuing to use the logo of the European Year against Racism, promoting the television spot, developing the Internet site on the EUROPA server, disseminating publications on anti-racism work and creating an innovation prize for anti-racism projects. The Commission also intends to cooperate with the media to spread anti-racism messages and to promote positive messages about diversity.

A report setting out the progress made in the fight against racism at European level will be published by the end of 1999.

4) Deadline For Implementation Of The Legislation In The Member States

Not required

5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Above)

6) References

Commission Communication COM(98) 183 final
Not published in the Official Journal

7) Follow-Up Work

8) Commission Implementing Measures

Combating discrimination

Combating discrimination

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating discrimination

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Combating discrimination

Combating discrimination

The European Union (EU) combats discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation. In addition, all discrimination on the grounds of nationality is prohibited by the Treaties. The right to non-discrimination is further reinforced by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which has the same legal value as the Treaties.
The EU legal framework on anti-discrimination was initiated in 2000. It contains three directives, namely equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, in employment and between men and women outside the labour market. Member States and the Union institutions and authorities are assisted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) when implementing EU law on anti-discrimination. Financial assistance is provided by the PROGRESS 2007-13 programme.

GENERAL FRAMEWORK

  • Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice
  • Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)
  • Community programme for employment and solidarity – PROGRESS (2007-2013)
  • The principle of equal treatment between persons
  • Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities
  • A framework strategy for non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all

COMBATING RACISM, XENOPHOBIA AND ANTISEMITISM

  • Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia
  • Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin
  • Contribution to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
  • Joint action to combat racism and xenophobia
  • Action plan against racism

Joint action to combat racism and xenophobia

Joint action to combat racism and xenophobia

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Joint action to combat racism and xenophobia

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Combating discrimination

Joint action to combat racism and xenophobia

To adopt rules to combat racism and xenophobia in order to prevent the perpetrators of such offences from exploiting the fact that racist and xenophobic activities are classified differently in different states by moving from one country to another in order to escape criminal proceedings or avoid serving sentences and thus pursue their activities with impunity.

2) Union Measure

Joint action/96/443/JHA of 15 July 1996 adopted by the Council on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, concerning action to combat racism and xenophobia.

3) Content

In the interests of combating racism and xenophobia, each Member State must undertake, in accordance with the procedure laid down in point 4, to ensure effective judicial cooperation in respect of offences based on the following types of behaviour, and, if necessary, for the purposes of that cooperation, to take steps to see that such behaviour is punishable as a criminal offence:

  • public incitement to discrimination, violence or racial hatred in respect of a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to colour, race, religion or national or ethnic origin;
  • public condoning, for a racist or xenophobic purpose, of crimes against humanity and human rights violations;
  • public denial of the crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal appended to the London Agreement of 8 April 1945 insofar as it includes behaviour which is contemptuous of, or degrading to, a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, religion or national or ethnic origin;
  • public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia;
  • participation in the activities of groups, organisations or associations, which involve discrimination, violence, or racial, ethnic or religious hatred.

In the case of investigations into, and/or proceedings against, offences based on the types of behaviour listed above, each Member State must, in accordance with point 3, improve judicial cooperation in the following areas and take appropriate measures for:

  • seizure and confiscation of tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia intended for public dissemination, where such material is offered to the public in the territory of a Member State;
  • acknowledgement that the types of behaviour listed in point 1 should not be regarded as political offences justifying refusal to comply with requests for mutual legal assistance;
  • providing information to another Member State to enable that Member State to initiate, in accordance with its law, legal proceedings or proceedings for confiscation in cases where it appears that tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia are being stored in a Member State for the purposes of distribution or dissemination in another Member State;
  • the establishment of contact points in the Member States which would be responsible for collecting and exchanging any information which might be useful for investigations and proceedings against offences based on the types of behaviour listed in point 1.

Nothing in this Joint Action may be interpreted as affecting any obligations which Member States may have under the international instruments listed below.

Member States must implement this Joint Action consistently with such obligations and will refer to the definitions and principles contained in such instruments when so doing:

  • the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950,
  • the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951, as amended by the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967,
  • the United Nations Convention on Genocide of 9 December 1948,
  • the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 7 March 1966,
  • the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and Protocols I and II of 12 December 1977 to those Conventions,
  • Resolutions 827(93) and 955(94) of the United Nations Security Council,
  • Council Resolution of 23 November 1995 on the protection of witnesses in the fight against international organised crime (1), in cases of criminal proceedings for the types of behaviour listed in point 1, if witnesses have been summoned in another Member State.

Each Member State must bring forward appropriate proposals to implement this joint action for consideration by the competent authorities with a view to their adoption.

4) Deadline For Implementation Of The Legislation In The Member States

5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Above)

13.08.1996

6) References

Official Journal L 185 of 24.07.1996

7) Follow-Up Work

8) Implementing Measures

Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia

Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Combating discrimination

Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia

Document or Iniciative

Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.

Summary

As a follow-up to Joint Action96/443/JHA, this framework decision provides for the approximation of laws and regulations of the Member States on offences involving racism and xenophobia. Racist and xenophobic behaviour must constitute an offence in all Member States and must be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties of a maximum of at least one to three years of imprisonment.

This framework decision applies to all offences committed:

  • within the territory of the European Union (EU), including through an information system;
  • by a national of a Member State or for the benefit of a legal person established in a Member State. To that end, the framework decision provides criteria on how to determine the liability of a legal person.

Certain forms of conduct as outlined below, which are committed for a racist or xenophobic purpose, are punishable as criminal offences:

  • public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined on the basis of race, colour, descent, religion or belief, or national or ethnic origin;
  • public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia;
  • public condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in the Statute of the International Criminal Court (Articles 6, 7 and 8) and crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred against such a group or a member of such a group.

Instigating, aiding or abetting in the commission of the above offences is also punishable.

With regard to the offences listed in Article 1, Member States must ensure that they are punishable by:

  • effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties;
  • terms of imprisonment of a maximum of at least one to three years.

In all cases, racist or xenophobic motivation is considered to be an aggravating circumstance or, alternatively, such motivation may be taken into consideration when determining the penalties to be applied.

With regard to legal persons, the penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive and must consist of criminal or non-criminal fines. In addition, legal persons may be punished by:

  • exclusion from entitlement to public benefits or aid;
  • temporary or permanent disqualification from the practice or commercial activities;
  • being placed under judicial supervision;
  • a judicial winding-up order.

The initiation of investigations or prosecutions of racist and xenophobic offences must not depend on a victim’s report or accusation.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA

6.12.2008

28.11.2010

OJ L 328 of 6.12.2008

Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice

Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice

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

Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 19 October 2010 – Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union [COM(2010) 573 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) became legally binding. This new status of the charter strengthens the Union’s action on respect for fundamental rights. This communication provides a strategy for implementing the charter in the current legal environment.

The aim of the Commission’s strategy is to ensure the effective application of the fundamental rights set out in the charter. In this respect, the Union itself must be exemplary in order to:

  • enable people living in the Union to enjoy the rights enshrined in the charter;
  • build mutual trust between EU countries;
  • build public confidence in EU policies;
  • improve credibility of EU external action on human rights.

A fundamental rights culture in the Commission

The Commission makes regular checks to ensure that its legislative proposals and acts are compatible with the charter. Nevertheless, it must strengthen these checks within the departments drawing up the proposals and acts, introducing “a culture of fundamental rights” into all stages of the procedure. This is especially important for evaluating the necessity for and proportionality of the proposals, in particular as some rights are absolute (e.g. human dignity, ban on torture, etc.), while some may, under certain circumstances, be subject to limitations.

The Commission has a methodology for ensuring that systematic and thorough checks are carried out regarding respect for fundamental rights in draft proposals during:

  • preparatory consultations;
  • impact assessments;
  • drafting of draft acts.

The Commission also carries out checks to ensure that the charter is reflected in ex post evaluations of EU instruments. However, further efforts need to be made to better apply the methodology in practice. Particularly, it will pay attention to proposals and acts that raise specific issues of compatibility with or aim at promoting a specific fundamental right protected by the charter.

The charter and the legislative process

Since the Commission’s methodology only applies to the preparatory stage of the legislative process, its proposals may be amended by the Council or the European Parliament without systematic checks being carried out on the amendments’ impact on and compatibility with fundamental rights. Consequently, the Commission is willing to assist the other institutions in reviewing their amendments against the charter. In cases where amendments to its proposal do not sufficiently guarantee respect for fundamental rights, the Commission will notify of its opposition to the lowering of protection standards and will take action, including, where applicable, the withdrawal of its proposal. Any draft amendments that may be incompatible with the charter must be dealt with through transparent inter-institutional dialogue.

The charter and EU countries

EU countries have an obligation to comply with the charter only when implementing EU law. The Commission will take steps to enforce respect for fundamental rights in EU countries by:

  • reminding them of this obligation and assisting them in the correct implementation of EU law;
  • launching infringement procedures against an EU country in breach of this obligation.

Information to the public

The public needs to be kept well informed of their rights as enshrined in the charter and of ways to enforce these rights if they are violated, in particular as regards defending the rights of the child. It is essential that the public is aware of the legal remedies available and that it has all the suitable information needed to seek redress. Therefore, the Commission intends to take targeted and tailored measures to tackle any difficulties relating to communication, such as:

  • further information activities on the role and powers of the Union in fundamental rights;
  • actions to ensure that practical information on existing legal remedies is available, in particular through the e-justice portal.

Annual reports on the application of the charter

In order to review progress in implementing the charter and to provide for regular exchanges of views with the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission will draw up annual reports on the application of the charter. It will prepare the reports in close collaboration with all institutions and relevant stakeholders.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights [COM (2012) 169 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Following a Eurobarometer survey which showed respondents across the EU wishing to be better informed about the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, this report reviewed progress in ensuring the effective implementation of the Charter and highlighted important developments from 2011. The report concluded that in 2011 the EU took concrete steps for the effective implementation of the Charter. These steps included:

  • pursuing a rigorous enforcement policy of citizens’ right to free movement;
  • promoting the rights of the child through the adoption of the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child and the adoption of new rules on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography;
  • reinforcing victims’ rights and procedural rights, by proposing a new set of instruments to guarantee that victims are treated with respect and dignity;
  • reiterating the Commission’s firm rejection of all forms and manifestations of xenophobia and racism;
  • contributing to EU competitiveness – the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal is important for the enforcement of EU economic law that contributes to growth. It ensures that enterprises can effectively uphold the rights granted in EU legislation.

The report also acknowledged the important steps taken to prepare the proposal for new EU rules on data protection to be presented in 2012.


Another Normative about Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Combating discrimination

Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 19 October 2010 – Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union [COM(2010) 573 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) became legally binding. This new status of the charter strengthens the Union’s action on respect for fundamental rights. This communication provides a strategy for implementing the charter in the current legal environment.

The aim of the Commission’s strategy is to ensure the effective application of the fundamental rights set out in the charter. In this respect, the Union itself must be exemplary in order to:

  • enable people living in the Union to enjoy the rights enshrined in the charter;
  • build mutual trust between EU countries;
  • build public confidence in EU policies;
  • improve credibility of EU external action on human rights.

A fundamental rights culture in the Commission

The Commission makes regular checks to ensure that its legislative proposals and acts are compatible with the charter. Nevertheless, it must strengthen these checks within the departments drawing up the proposals and acts, introducing “a culture of fundamental rights” into all stages of the procedure. This is especially important for evaluating the necessity for and proportionality of the proposals, in particular as some rights are absolute (e.g. human dignity, ban on torture, etc.), while some may, under certain circumstances, be subject to limitations.

The Commission has a methodology for ensuring that systematic and thorough checks are carried out regarding respect for fundamental rights in draft proposals during:

  • preparatory consultations;
  • impact assessments;
  • drafting of draft acts.

The Commission also carries out checks to ensure that the charter is reflected in ex post evaluations of EU instruments. However, further efforts need to be made to better apply the methodology in practice. Particularly, it will pay attention to proposals and acts that raise specific issues of compatibility with or aim at promoting a specific fundamental right protected by the charter.

The charter and the legislative process

Since the Commission’s methodology only applies to the preparatory stage of the legislative process, its proposals may be amended by the Council or the European Parliament without systematic checks being carried out on the amendments’ impact on and compatibility with fundamental rights. Consequently, the Commission is willing to assist the other institutions in reviewing their amendments against the charter. In cases where amendments to its proposal do not sufficiently guarantee respect for fundamental rights, the Commission will notify of its opposition to the lowering of protection standards and will take action, including, where applicable, the withdrawal of its proposal. Any draft amendments that may be incompatible with the charter must be dealt with through transparent inter-institutional dialogue.

The charter and EU countries

EU countries have an obligation to comply with the charter only when implementing EU law. The Commission will take steps to enforce respect for fundamental rights in EU countries by:

  • reminding them of this obligation and assisting them in the correct implementation of EU law;
  • launching infringement procedures against an EU country in breach of this obligation.

Information to the public

The public needs to be kept well informed of their rights as enshrined in the charter and of ways to enforce these rights if they are violated, in particular as regards defending the rights of the child. It is essential that the public is aware of the legal remedies available and that it has all the suitable information needed to seek redress. Therefore, the Commission intends to take targeted and tailored measures to tackle any difficulties relating to communication, such as:

  • further information activities on the role and powers of the Union in fundamental rights;
  • actions to ensure that practical information on existing legal remedies is available, in particular through the e-justice portal.

Annual reports on the application of the charter

In order to review progress in implementing the charter and to provide for regular exchanges of views with the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission will draw up annual reports on the application of the charter. It will prepare the reports in close collaboration with all institutions and relevant stakeholders.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights [COM (2012) 169 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Following a Eurobarometer survey which showed respondents across the EU wishing to be better informed about the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, this report reviewed progress in ensuring the effective implementation of the Charter and highlighted important developments from 2011. The report concluded that in 2011 the EU took concrete steps for the effective implementation of the Charter. These steps included:

  • pursuing a rigorous enforcement policy of citizens’ right to free movement;
  • promoting the rights of the child through the adoption of the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child and the adoption of new rules on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography;
  • reinforcing victims’ rights and procedural rights, by proposing a new set of instruments to guarantee that victims are treated with respect and dignity;
  • reiterating the Commission’s firm rejection of all forms and manifestations of xenophobia and racism;
  • contributing to EU competitiveness – the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal is important for the enforcement of EU economic law that contributes to growth. It ensures that enterprises can effectively uphold the rights granted in EU legislation.

The report also acknowledged the important steps taken to prepare the proposal for new EU rules on data protection to be presented in 2012.