Tag Archives: Human dignity

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services

Topics

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

Audiovisual and media

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services (2006 recommendation)

Document or Iniciative

Recommendation 2006/952/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and on-line information services industry [Official Journal L 378 of 27.12.2006].

Summary

The emergence of new information and communication technology demands constant vigilance when it comes to protecting the rights of the individual. It must be ensured that the content of audiovisual and information services stays within the law, respects the principle of human dignity and does not impair the development of minors.

To create a “European media area” that respects freedom of expression and, at the same time, the rights of the consumer, action will be required at all levels: European level, by Member States, and by the industry and other parties concerned.

ACTION AT MEMBER STATE LEVEL

The recommendation calls on Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that minors and human dignity are better protected across all audiovisual and on-line information services.

Right of reply across all media

Member States are invited to consider introducing measures regarding the right of reply or equivalent remedies in relation to on-line media.

Promoting responsible use by minors

The recommendation invites Member States to take measures to enable minors to make responsible use of audiovisual and on-line information services. This could involve improving the level of awareness among parents, teachers and trainers of the potential of the new services and of the means whereby they may be made safe for minors.

Promoting a responsible attitude on the part of professionals, intermediaries and users

Member States are invited to promote a responsible attitude on the part of professionals, intermediaries and users by:

  • encouraging the audiovisual and on-line information services industry to avoid all discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, and to combat any such discrimination;
  • encouraging vigilance and the reporting of pages considered illegal;
  • drawing up a code of conduct in cooperation with professionals and regulatory authorities at national and Community level.

Combating illegal activity

A key role is ascribed to measures to combat illegal activity that is likely to be harmful to minors on the Internet. The recommendation proposes that the following measures be taken:

  • awarding a quality label to service providers so that users can easily check whether or not a given provider subscribes to a code of conduct;
  • establishing appropriate means for the reporting of illegal and/or suspicious activities on the Internet.

ACTION AT INDUSTRY LEVEL

Apart from the Member States, the audiovisual and on-line information services industry and other parties concerned are also urged to take action to ensure respect for human dignity and the protection of minors in the services they offer.

Positive measures for the benefit of minors

The recommendation suggests that a number of initiatives be adopted, including greater cooperation between the regulatory, self-regulatory and co-regulatory bodies of the Member States. It also encourages the exchange of best practices concerning such issues as a system of common descriptive symbols or warning messages which would help users to assess the content of the services.

Technical measures

The industry is urged to examine the possibility of creating filters which would prevent information offending against human dignity from passing through the Internet. It is also encouraged to develop measures to increase the use of content labelling systems for material distributed over the Internet.

Combating discrimination

The recommendation invites the industry to find effective means of fighting any incitement to discrimination in audiovisual and on-line information services. In addition, it should promote a diversified and realistic picture of the skills and potential of men and women in society.

COMMISSION INITIATIVES

Apart from its activity in the context of the 2005-2008 Community programme for a safer Internet, the Commission intends to take a number of initiatives to promote the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and on-line information services. These involve, in particular:

  • introducing a European freephone number to provide Internet users with information on issues relating to the protection of minors and human dignity;
  • possible support for the establishment of a generic second-level domain name reserved for monitored sites committed to respecting minors and their rights;
  • support for the formation of networks by self-regulatory bodies and the exchanging of experience among them, with the aim of assessing the effectiveness of codes of conduct and approaches based on self-regulation.

Related Acts

Council Recommendation 98/560/EC of 24 September 1998 on the development of the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry by promoting national frameworks aimed at achieving a comparable and effective level of protection of minors and human dignity [Official Journal L 270 of 7 October 1998].

This 1998 recommendation is the first legal instrument at Community level governing the content of audiovisual and information services and the protection of minors and human dignity.

Sufficient resources and assistance

Sufficient resources and assistance

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Sufficient resources and assistance

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Sufficient resources and assistance

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 92/441/EEC of 24 June 1992 on common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems [Published in the Official Journal L 245 of 26.8.1992].

Summary

The Member States of the European Union (EU) must recognise the basic right of persons to sufficient resources and social assistance to live in a manner compatible with human dignity.

This right should be implemented under the framework of the Member States’ strategic national policies on combating social exclusion. It concerns all individuals resident in the territory of the EU who do not have access to sufficient resources individually or within the household in which they live.

The level of sufficient resources should be set according to the specific situation of each person, specifically the size of their household, their specific needs and the cost of living in the Member State concerned.

Access by applicants to this right cannot be subject to time-limits, provided that the eligibility conditions continue to be met. However, Member States may create limits concerning students, persons in full-time employment and persons with the capacity to carry out a vocational activity.

Implementation of this right must be ensured within the frameworks of social security schemes. In addition, Member States must in particular:

  • simplify administrative procedures and legal appeals;
  • provide measures of social support;
  • inform the most vulnerable people of their rights;
  • take measures to encourage employment;
  • adapt taxation, social security rules and the civil obligations of persons.

Related Acts

Report of 25 January 1999 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of the recommendation 92/441/EEC of 24 June 1992 on common criteria concerning sufficient resources and social assistance in social protection systems [COM(98) 774 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In order to continue to improve the situation of minimum income beneficiaries, the Commission proposes to:

  • optimise social protection for better coverage of basic needs;
  • greater consistency between the minimum social benefits and social benefits, in particular the maintenance of minimum income by topping up income from work;
  • improve access to employment and training;
  • improve the social and economic integration of the beneficiaries of minimum income.

Protection of the dignity of women and men at work

Protection of the dignity of women and men at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of the dignity of women and men at work

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Protection of the dignity of women and men at work

Document or Iniciative

Commission Recommendation 92/131/EEC of 27 November 1991 on the protection of the dignity of women and men at work [Official Journal L 49 of 24.02.1992].

Summary

In this document, the Member States are recommended to take action to promote awareness that conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex and affecting dignity, is unacceptable.

Sexual harassment is defined as:

  • conduct which is unwanted, unreasonable and offensive to the recipient;
  • any conduct which is used explicitly or implicitly as a basis for a decision which affects that person’s access to vocational training, access to employment, continued employment or salary;
  • any conduct which creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating work environment for the recipient.

Such conduct may, in certain circumstances, be contrary to the principle of equal treatment within the meaning of Articles 3, 4 and 5 of Council Directive 76/207/EEC on equal treatment.

Member States are also asked to take action in the public sector to implement the Commission’s code of conduct, with such action serving as an example to the private sector. Member States should also encourage employers and employee representatives to develop measures to implement the code of conduct.

The Commission is to draw up a report based on the information forwarded by the Member States concerning the measures taken – information that should be communicated within three years of the date on which the recommendation is adopted. During this period, the Commission shall ensure the widest possible circulation of the code of practice. The report shall examine the level of information on the Code, its perceived effectiveness, its degree of application and the extent of its use in collective bargaining between the social partners.

Related Acts

of 24 July 1996 concerning the consultation of management and labour on the prevention of sexual harassment at work. (link to c10917c)

In 1996, the Commission adopted a communication which launched the first stage of consultation with the social partners on the prevention of sexual harassment at work. At the same time, it presented the evaluation report concerning the 1991 Recommendation on the protection of the dignity of men and women at work, which was compiled on the basis of information transmitted by the Member States. The consultation of the social partners revealed a difference of opinions as to the measures to be taken to combat sexual harassment: the employers’ organisations wanted to keep using national initiatives, whilst the trade union organisations asked for the adoption of a binding Community instrument. The Commission, noting the lack of success of repressive national rules, advocated the implementation of a comprehensive prevention policy comprising rules and procedures that are adapted to the context of the workplace. A second stage of consultation was launched with the Commission communication of 19 March 1997. With the social partners having turned down the invitation to comment on the components of a comprehensive policy and negotiate a collective agreement at European level, the Commission could, as it suggested in its communication of 1997, seek other means of preventing sexual harassment, including the adoption of a binding legal instrument.

Council Declaration of 19 December 1991 on the implementation of the Commission recommendation on the protection of the dignity of women and men at work, including the code of practice to combat sexual harassment [Official Journal C 27 of 04.02.1992]

The Council, which fully endorses the Commission’s opinion, asks:

  • the Member States to intensify their efforts to promote the integration of women in the workplace;
  • the Commission to promote the exchange of information and good practice between the Member States;
  • the Commission to submit to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee the report provided for in Article 4 of the Commission’s recommendation, not more than three years after the adoption of this declaration.

Council Resolution of 29 May 1990 on the protection of the dignity of women and men at work [Official Journal C157 of 27.06.1990]

of 9 February 1976 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions [Official Journal L 39 of 14.02.1976] amended by Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 [Official Journal L269 of 05.10.2002]. (link to c10906)

Code of practice to clamp down on sexual harassment at work

Code of practice to clamp down on sexual harassment at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Code of practice to clamp down on sexual harassment at work

Topics

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

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Code of practice to clamp down on sexual harassment at work

Document or Iniciative

Commission code of practice on sexual harassment [Official Journal L 49 of 24.02.1992].

Summary

The Commission restates the general definition of sexual harassment contained in its Recommendation. National judges will still have to decide whether cases brought to their attention fall within this category and are to be regarded as a criminal offence, an infringement of statutory obligations (especially in health and safety matters) or a contravention of obligations imposed on employers by contract or otherwise. It calls on employers in the public and private sectors, trade unions and employees to follow the guidelines of the code and to include appropriate clauses in collective bargaining agreements.

Recommendations to employers

Prevention:

Employers should issue a policy statement which expressly states that sexual harassment will not be permitted or condoned and that employees have a right to complain about it should it occur. The policy statement should leave no doubt as to what is considered inappropriate behaviour which may, in certain circumstances, be unlawful. It should also explain the procedure to be followed for making a complaint or obtaining assistance, and should specify the disciplinary measures applicable. It should provide assurance that complaints will be dealt with seriously, expeditiously and confidentially, and that complainants will be protected against victimization. Once it has been drawn up, the statement must be communicated to everyone concerned, so as to ensure the widest possible awareness. Managers are to explain the organization’s policy to their staff, and are expected to take appropriate measures, act supportively towards victims and provide any information required. The provision of training for managers and supervisors is an important means of combating sexual harassment.

Procedures:

Clear and precise procedures must be developed, giving practical guidance on how to deal with this problem. Such guidance must draw the employees’ attention to their legal rights and to any time limits within which they must be exercised. Employees should be advised to try first of all to resolve the problem informally by explaining, either themselves or through a third party, that the behaviour in question is not welcome, offends them and interferes with their work. If the unwelcome conduct persists, there will be grounds for making a complaint. To this end, it is recommended that a formal procedure for dealing with complaints be set up, in which employees can place their trust and which specifies the person to whom the complaint should be brought. It is also recommended that someone be designated to provide advice and assistance. The complainant and the alleged harasser have the right to be represented by a trade union representative, a friend or a colleague. Employers should monitor and review these procedures in order to ensure that they are working effectively. Investigations of complaints are to be carried out with sensitivity by independent persons, with due respect for the rights of the complainant and the alleged harasser. Complaints must be resolved speedily and confidentially at the end of an investigation focusing on the facts. Any violation of the organization’s policy should be treated as a disciplinary offence. Disciplinary rules should make clear what is regarded as inappropriate behaviour and should indicate the range of penalties. Any victimization or retaliation against an employee bringing a complaint in good faith is to be considered as a disciplinary offence.

Recommendations to trade unions

Sexual harassment is a trade union issue which must be treated seriously and sympathetically when complaints arise. Trade unions are expected to formulate and issue clear policy statements on sexual harassment and to take steps to raise awareness of the problem, in order to help create a climate in which sexual harassment is neither condoned nor ignored. They should declare that sexual harassment is inappropriate behaviour and should inform staff about its consequences. It is also a good idea to ensure that there are sufficient female representatives to support women subjected to sexual harassment.

Employees’ responsibilities

Employees have a clear role to play in discouraging any form of reprehensible behaviour and making it unacceptable. They can contribute to preventing sexual harassment through awareness and sensitivity towards the issue and by ensuring that standards of conduct for themselves and for colleagues do not cause offence. Employees should lend support to victims of harassment and should inform management and/or their staff representative through the appropriate channels.

Related Acts

of 24 July 1996 on the Consultation of Management and Labour on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Work.

In 1996, the Commission adopted a communication launching the first phase of consultation of management and labour on the prevention of sexual harassment at work. At the same time, it presented a report assessing the 1991 recommendation on the protection of the dignity of men and women at work, which was drawn up on the basis of information sent by the Member States. Consultation of management and labour revealed differences in opinion on how to combat sexual harassment: the employers’ organisations wanted to limit measures to national initiatives, whereas the trade unions called for the adoption of a binding Community instrument. The Commission noted the failure of national repressive rules and therefore advocated implementing a general prevention policy comprising rules and procedures suited to the work environment. A second consultation phase was launched with the Commission communication of 19 March 1997. Since the social partners declined to give an opinion on the content of a general policy and to negotiate a collective agreement at European level, the Commission may, as announced in its 1997 Communication, seek other ways of preventing sexual harassment, including the adoption of a binding legal instrument.

Council Declaration of 19 December 1991 on the implementation of the Commission Recommendation on the protection of the dignity of women and men at work, including the code of practice to combat sexual harassment [Official Journal C 27 of 04.02.1992].

The Council, which fully endorses the Commission’s opinion, asks:

  • the Member States to intensify their efforts to promote the integration of women in the workplace;
  • the Commission to promote the exchange of information and good practice between the Member States;
  • the Commission to submit to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee the report provided for in Article 4 of the Commission’s recommendation, not more than three years after the adoption of this declaration.

Council Resolution of 29 May 1990 on the protection of the dignity of women and men at work [Official Journal C157 of 27.06.1990].

Protection of minors and human dignity

Protection of minors and human dignity

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of minors and human dignity

Topics

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

Audiovisual and media

Protection of minors and human dignity (1998 Recommendation)

The development of the audiovisual services and information industry in the European Union (EU) requires the establishment of a climate of trust, including the effective protection of minors and human dignity.
This Recommendation calls for the implementation of national self-regulation frameworks to increase the protection of minors and human dignity in the broadcasting and Internet sectors.

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 98/560/EC of 24 September 1998 on the development of the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry by promoting national frameworks aimed at achieving a comparable and effective level of protection of minors and human dignity [Official Journal L 270 of 7.10.1998].

Summary

The impact of the increase in digital technology

As a consequence of the development of digital media (Internet, digital broadcasting and video games), questions relating to the protection of minors are becoming increasingly important.

Whereas in traditional broadcasting, the broadcaster is easily identifiable, it is becoming difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to identify the source of content broadcast on the Internet. At the same time, illegal and harmful content is becoming easier to access and can even be found unintentionally.

As far as audiovisual policy is concerned, technological developments require a new approach. To meet this challenge, the Council has adopted this Recommendation which calls on the Member States, the sectors and parties concerned, as well as the Commission, to take measures to increase the protection of minors and human dignity in the broadcasting and Internet sectors.

This Recommendation is the first legal instrument relating to the content of audiovisual services and on-line information broadcast on the Internet.

Action to be taken by Member States

Member States are called upon to foster a climate of trust which will promote the development of the audiovisual and information services industry.

The following measures could be taken to create such a climate of trust:

  • promoting the voluntary establishment of national frameworks for the protection of minors and human dignity. This involves encouraging the participation of relevant parties (users, consumers, businesses and public authorities) in establishing, implementing and evaluating national measures taken in this domain. The establishment of a national framework for self-regulation of operators of on-line services is also encouraged;
  • encouraging broadcasters to experiment, on a voluntary basis, with new ways to protect minors and inform viewers;
  • fighting against illegal content on on-line services which causes offence to human dignity, by handling complaints and transmitting the necessary information about alleged illegal content to the relevant national authorities. Transnational cooperation between the complaints-handling structures is also encouraged in order to strengthen the effectiveness of national measures;
  • promoting action to enable minors to make responsible use of on-line audiovisual and information services, notably by improving the level of awareness among parents, educators and teachers of the potential of the new services and of the ways in which they can be made safe for minors.
    Member States are also called upon to facilitate identification of quality content and services for minors, including by providing Internet access in educational establishments and public places.

Action to be taken by the sectors and parties concerned

The industrial sectors and parties concerned are encouraged to:

  • cooperate with the relevant authorities in setting up structures representing all parties concerned; the aim is to facilitate participation in coordination efforts concerning the protection of minors and human dignity on both a European and an international level;
  • cooperate in drawing up codes of conduct for the protection of minors and human dignity applying to on-line services;
  • develop on a voluntary basis new means of protecting minors and informing viewers;
  • collaborate in the follow-up and regular evaluation of initiatives carried out on a national level concerning the application of this recommendation.

Actions to be taken at European Commission level

The Commission is invited to:

  • facilitate the networking of the bodies responsible for defining and implementing national self-regulation frameworks;
  • facilitate the sharing of experience and good practice at Community and international level;
  • encourage cooperation and the sharing of experience and good practice between the self-regulation structures and the structures for handling complaints about illegal content;
  • develop in cooperation with the competent national authorities a methodology for evaluating the measures taken pursuant to this recommendation.

Background

This recommendation follows on from the 1996 Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services. This Green Paper marked the start of a debate, at European level, on the ethical dimension of the information society and on how public interest can be protected in the new services.

The Television without Frontiers Directive adopted in 1989 and amended in 1997 also contains provisions regarding the protection of minors from harmful content (in particular by means of watersheds and technical devices).

Related Acts

Recommendation 2006/952/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and on-line information services industry [[Official Journal L 378 of 27.12.2006].

This Recommendation is another step towards cooperation between Member States, industry and all those involved in the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and on-line information services. It completes and updates the 1998 Recommendation, taking into account recent technological developments in the sector and the changing media landscape.

EVALUATION REPORTS

Second evaluation report from the Commission of 12 December 2003 on the application of the Council Recommendation of 24 September 1998 concerning the protection of minors and human dignity [COM(2003) 776 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This second evaluation report shows the progress made since 2000 on self-regulation issues, codes of conduct and technical and educational measures regarding protection of minors and human dignity.

The report concludes that Member States are applying the Recommendation in different ways. It emphasises that the number of telephone hotlines and codes of conduct in the Internet sector has increased significantly.
Self-regulation or co-regulation is less developed in the broadcasting sector, but the relevant systems seem to work very well.
Improvements needed, however, with respect to the participation of consumers’ associations and other parties concerned in the implementation of codes of conduct and other self-regulatory initiatives.

The report announces the Commission’s intention to propose, in 2004, an update of the Recommendation covering issues relating to media literacy, right of reply and anti-discrimination measures on the grounds of race, gender or nationality.

Evaluation report from the Commission of 27 February 2001 on the application of the Council Recommendation of 24 September 1998 concerning the protection of minors and human dignity [COM(2001) 106 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The report indicates that, two years after the publication of the Recommendation, the implementation of proposed measures is already very satisfactory in general.

Most Member States have launched campaigns for safer use of the Internet and some have introduced new provisions such as police hotlines to deal with child pornography.

The Commission, for its part, has contributed to better protection of minors in the audiovisual sector with the implementation of the Safer Internet Action Plan.