Tag Archives: Racial discrimination

Contribution to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Contribution to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Contribution to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance


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

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

Contribution to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 1 June 2001. Contribution to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance [COM(2001)291 final – Not published in the Official Journal]



The decision to hold a World Conference in 2001 was taken in 1997 by the United Nations General Assembly. Organised by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, it focused on action-oriented and practical steps to eradicate racism. Its main objectives were to: assess the fight against racial discrimination and its future, increase the level of awareness about racism and its consequences, formulate recommendations to the United Nations (UN) on ways to increase the effectiveness of its actions, etc. The European Commission played an active part in the preparations for the World Conference. On the one hand, it attended the preparatory Conference entitled ‘All Different – All Equal: From Principle to Practice’ held at the Council of Europe. On the other hand, it contributed EUR 3.7 million to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the least developed countries (to ensure their participation) and the World Conference itself. It also helped to draw up the political declaration and programme of action adopted at the Conference. It is in this context that this communication was drawn up. It aims to demonstrate the success of the fight against racism in the EU with a view to inspiring the Conference participants to work together within regional groupings.

Actions in the European Union

Action at European level has taken two general forms: a number of legislative acts have been adopted and the fight against racism has been mainstreamed into other policies.

The legislative measures include efforts to harmonise legislation in the Member States as previously, although discrimination was banned, the scope, content and enforcement of the legislation varied considerably from one country to another. A package of proposals to combat discrimination including two directives and an action programme were thus adopted in 1999. These proposals included Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin. Aimed at preventing racial discrimination in the Union, the directive strengthens the position of victims and requires the establishment of independent bodies capable of conducting surveys and studies in the field. Moreover, in 1996, it was agreed that judicial cooperation should be established between the Member States, so as to prevent, in particular, those responsible for crimes from avoiding prosecution by moving from one Member State to another. Lastly, the Commission has presented five proposals for directives on immigration and asylum issues (since the end of 1999). These relate, in particular, to family reunification, temporary protection in case of mass influx of displaced persons, procedures for granting and withdrawing refugee status, the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents and reception conditions for asylum-seekers.

Mainstreaming in other Community policies involves the employment policy, the external relations policy and programmes providing financial support.

The European employment strategy pursued by the EU since 1997 is an important instrument in the fight against racism. The employment guidelines which have, since 1999, included the principle of non-discrimination in the labour market, are the EU’s own contribution. The Member States are required to pay particular attention to the needs of ethnic minorities and other groups and persons likely to be disadvantaged, and to formulate appropriate policies of prevention and action to promote their integration into the labour market.

The external relations policy deals with racism through the preparations for enlargement (whereby the candidate countries are required to satisfy the Copenhagen criteria and to combat racism, especially with regard to the Roma population), the agreements with the New Independent States (NIS), the Common Strategy on Russia and the development policy.

Many EU programmes that provide financial aid contain provisions on racism. These include:

  • the Community action programme to combat discrimination, which has a budget of EUR 100 million for 2001-2006;
  • the Community initiative EQUAL, which deals with discrimination on the labour market and has been allocated almost EUR 3 billion for the 2000-2006 period;
  • the programme relating to the Community framework strategy on gender equality, which focuses on the situation of women;
  • the European Fund for Refugees, which provides support for the reception, integration and voluntary repatriation of refugees;
  • the Grotius programme, which aims to foster legal cooperation on general and criminal issues between the Member States of the European Union;
  • external programmes such as those financed by the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), which has a budget of EUR 110 million for 2002, Phare, which concentrates on the candidate countries, Tacis, which focuses on the NIS and Mongolia and, finally, projects relating to the Republics of Former Yugoslavia and those organised under the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe;
  • programmes in the field of education and youth, such as Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and Youth together with the Fifth framework programme for research and technological development.

Evaluation, monitoring and analysis of activities in the European Union

In addition to monitoring by the European Commission, which is responsible for ensuring respect for the Treaties and other Community laws, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia has established a European Racism and Xenophobia Information Network (Raxen). This network, whose task is to gather data and information on racism and xenophobia, incorporates research centres, NGOs and specialised centres, and its activities could be extended to the candidate countries.

Independent evaluation of Community actions and policies is also of importance, especially with a view to ensuring that the efforts made to combat racism are effective. This is a prerequisite for all the projects and actions supported by the programmes listed above.

Commission recommendations

The Commission hopes that the participants in the World Conference take account of the European Union’s action against racism as well as the recommendations presented by the Commission at the Regional European Conference in October 2000. These call on all participants to establish or maintain:

  • a combination of legislation and practical action to combat racism;
  • cooperation with the NGOs and the social partners;
  • specific policies involving the host society in order to promote respect for cultural diversity;
  • practical measures concerning the labour market;
  • access without discrimination to education and measures to combat discrimination in the media, culture and sport;
  • research in this area;
  • systematic mainstreaming of the fight against racism in the external relations and human rights policies;
  • legislative protection against racial discrimination;
  • effective, proportionate and deterrent criminal penalties for racist and xenophobic behaviour.

Related Acts

Council Conclusions on the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. General Affairs Council – 16 July 2001 [Not published in the Official Journal].
The General Affairs Council (GAC) reiterated the European Union’s desire to contribute to the success of the World Conference. In its conclusions, the Council stresses that the World Conference might represent a mobilising factor in the fight against racism. To achieve satisfactory results, it is essential for the Action Programme and the Declaration to be forward-looking and oriented towards action. It also emphasises that racism and racial discrimination must be fought by all legal means and it refers to the European Union’s many efforts mentioned in the above communication.

The Council thus hopes that the World Conference’s priorities include strengthening the legal framework for combating racism and improving education, training and the prevention of racism. Moreover, it calls for greater priority to be given to what is known as multiple racism, in other words cases where an individual belongs to several categories that are subject to discrimination, such as the Roma population, women and disabled people.

In order to ensure the success of the Conference, the Council feels it is necessary for NGOs and other actors in civil society to contribute and for a global strategy aimed at increasing international cooperation to be drawn up.

Deploring the effects of colonialism, such as slavery, the Council highlights the European Union’s current efforts to achieve a more just world, in particular through its development cooperation. It concludes by calling on the participating countries to work together in a spirit of cooperation, which is essential if the World Conference is to be a success.

World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Durban, South Africa, 31 August – 7 September 2001..

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


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.


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.


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.


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



OJ L 180 of 19.7.2000


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].