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Equality in the EU 20 years on from the initial implementation of the equality directives

This opinion illustrates the extent and nature of lived experiences of inequality and discrimination across the EU. It does so with reference to the grounds of discrimination and areas of life covered by the racial and employment equality directives, as well as in relation to the grounds and areas covered by the proposed Equal Treatment Directive.

The opinions presented here complement, reinforce and, sometimes, reiterate previous opinions FRA has formulated in its extensive body of work to date on equality, nondiscrimination and racism. The opinions pertain to the state of equality in the EU – on different grounds and in different areas of life – up to the end of 2020.

Objective, reliable and comparable data documenting experiences of inequality and discrimination are an essential tool for evidence-based policymaking. This opinion draws on data generated through FRA’s surveys and other evidence collected by the agency through its multidisciplinary research network, Franet, and in cooperation with the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet).

The main sources of data referred to in this opinion include five FRA surveys that cover a range of protected grounds in EU law and areas of life in which discrimination can occur. FRA collects survey data directly from those who are affected by discrimination, and these data offer a unique insight into the absence of equivalent data in many EU Member States. Specifically, this opinion draws on data and evidence from the following sources (see the annex for more information on FRA surveys):

The opinion presents FRA evidence of experiences of discrimination on the grounds and areas of life covered by the racial and employment equality directives. It also presents evidence of experiences of discrimination that go beyond the grounds and areas of life covered by these two directives. This information is relevant to the protracted negotiations on the 2008 proposal for an Equal Treatment Directive, namely the proposed Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons, irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

In this report:

  1. Realising the principle of equal treatment in compliance with the Racial Equality Directive and the Employment Equality Directive
  2. Impact of uneven protection against discrimination in EU legal provisions in core areas of life
  3. Rights awareness and reporting of discrimination
  4. Developments in the role of equality bodies
  5. Promoting the collection and use of equality data
FRA opinions