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Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

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Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

The objective of this legislation is to combat discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin. Therefore this Directive lays down minimum requirements for implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons in the European Union (EU). By discouraging discrimination, it should help to increase participation in economic and social life and reduce social exclusion.

ACT

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 EU country 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.

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

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Joint Report on the application of Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (Racial Equality Directive) and of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (Employment Equality Directive) ( COM(2014) 2 final of 17.1.2014 - not published in the Official Journal).

The report concludes that all EU countries have taken the necessary measures to transpose the two directives into their national legislation and set up procedures and bodies for their implementation.

The main challenge now is to increase awareness of the already existing protection and to ensure better practical implementation and application of the Directives. The Commission will, together with EU countries and their equality bodies, strive to achieve the full potential of the Directives in terms of protection of the fundamental right to equal treatment in the EU. The report points out that legislation alone is not enough to ensure full equality and that it needs to be combined with appropriate policy action. In particular, strengthening the role of the national equality bodies as watchdogs for equality could ensure more effective implementation and application of the Directives.

Report 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).

Last updated: 15.06.2014

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