The report covers information, events and developments on fundamental rights in the EU for the year 2008. The Agency's research shows that alarmingly few people are aware of their rights and where to report incidents of discrimination. Poor data collection in the EU-27 continues to hamper the implementation of effective policies to combat discrimination, whilst gaps in legal protection ensure that discrimination continues to thrive in certain areas.
Under the Racial Equality Directive of 2000, Member States are required to establish National Equality Bodies for the promotion of equal treatment. The Annual Report notes that by 2008, 21 Member States had still not fully transposed the Racial Equality Directive into domestic law to the satisfaction of the European Commission, despite being legally obliged to do so.
The number of formal complaints recorded by Equality Bodies varies greatly between the Member States, which is clearly not simply a reflection of the differences in size of population. For example, in 3 Member States less than 10 complaints on discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity were registered in 2007 (Estonia, Malta and Slovenia), whereas in 4 Member States significantly higher numbers were registered: (Belgium (1691), France (1690), Sweden (905), and the UK (over 3,500 - this covers more than one year, 2006 -2007).
Data collection on hate crime is poor in most Member States, ranging from racist and related hate crime to other hate crimes, such as homophobic crimes. Insufficient or non-existent data collection leads to a situation where the true extent and nature of fundamental rights violations cannot be determined. However, understanding the nature and extent of fundamental rights violations is a precondition for developing effective, targeted policies at Member State level.