The Framework strategy on non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all aims to ensure that EU legislation in this area is fully implemented and enforced. Some member states (Austria, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg) have already been condemned by the European Court of Justice for not sufficiently implementing legislation.
The strategy also encourages the adoption of additional measures, which go beyond legal protection, such as information-dissemination, awareness-raising, the sharing of experiences, training and access to justice.
European Year of Equal Opportunities for All
The Year of Equal Opportunities for All has three key aims:
- Making EU citizens aware of their right to non-discrimination and equal treatment;
- promoting equal opportunities for all – access to employment, education, in the workplace or in the healthcare sector, and;
- promoting the benefits of diversity for the EU.
In order to achieve this, the Year will focus on four main themes:
Rights: raising awareness of the right to equality and non-discrimination;
representation: stimulating a debate on ways to increase the participation of under-represented groups in society;
recognition: celebrating and accommodating diversity, and;
respect and tolerance: promoting a more cohesive society.
A new Eurobarometer report shows that anti-discrimination legislation is still not sufficiently implemented in the EU. Almost two thirds of Europeans think that non-whites, disabled people, gays, senior citizens, people with different religious beliefs and women are being discriminated against in their country.
Gender equality is a key political objective for the EU and a central piece of the non-discrimination strategy. But it is also important in order to achieve the EU’s economic and social goals as part of the EU’s Lisbon Strategy aimed at promoting economic growth and competitiveness.
The Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010 defines some existing areas and proposes new areas of action. Six priority areas have been selected: equal economic independence for women and men, reconciliation of private and professional life, equal representation in decision-making, eradication of all forms of gender-based violence, elimination of gender stereotypes and promotion of gender equality in external and development policies.
The EC Treaty also includes provisions against nationality discrimination and guaranteeing the free movement of workers within the EU (art.12, 9 EC Treaty). The ECJ has applied these in a number of cases. The population of the enlarged EU is increasingly diverse. That is why there is a pressing need to improve the opportunities for migrants, people with disabilities, younger and older people as regards education and employment. The Commission plans to set up a high-level advisory group to work on social and labour-market integration of minorities, including the Roma.
In July 2005, the EU adopted a strategy to mainstream disability issues into relevant EU policies and develop actions in order to improve the integration of people with disabilities.