You are here:

Equality and non-discrimination

Developments in equality and non-discrimination in 2014 were marked by the EU’s efforts to become more inclusive. Working actively to counter discrimination in all its forms and to foster equal treatment requires sustained efforts by all interested parties, so EU institutions worked closely with Member States and FRA to raise awareness on issues of discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, or to encourage recourse to redress mechanisms.

A new regulation on structural and investment funds also came into force in the EU. If applied fully, this regulation can help greater social inclusion of those most vulnerable to discrimination and unequal treatment. This includes persons with disabilities, who would stand to gain most from the full and correct implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the only core international human rights convention to which the EU itself has acceded. Evidence from 2014 shows that the cross-cutting principles of equality and non-discrimination set out in Articles 3 and 5 of the convention are increasingly driving implementation of the CRPD by both the EU and its Member States.

FRA conclusions

FRA evidence consistently shows that levels of discrimination remain high, including in areas other than employment.
  • In 2014, six years after it was first proposed, the Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation has still not been adopted.  
  • For the EU to fulfil its obligation to become a truly inclusive society, EU institutions and Member States should explore every means at their disposal to ensure the adoption of the proposed equal treatment directive.

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are a key instrument in the EU’s drive to ensure the inclusion of those most vulnerable to discrimination and unequal treatment, as well as meeting the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.
  • Member States allocated around 10% of the overall budget available under ESIF to promote social inclusion, and to combat poverty and any discrimination during the programming period 2014–2020.
  • EU Member States should ensure that ESIF funds are invested in ways compliant with fundamental rights, leading to sustainable and tangible results with respect to social inclusion. Increased cooperation and coordination of activities between the European Commission, EU bodies and Member States will be needed to assist Member States in meeting their objectives in this field.

EU Member States took concrete steps towards fulfilling their obligation to ensure that operational programmes funded under ESIF respect the principle of non-discrimination and the rights of persons with disabilities.
  • This is reflected in steps taken by Member States to meet the five general ex ante conditionalities relating to anti-discrimination and disability before the deadline of 31 December 2016.
  • Member States are encouraged to continue efforts to meet these conditionalities fully, while engaging relevant public bodies and civil society organisations in committees set up to monitor the disbursement of funds under ESIF, thereby increasing transparency and accountability.

Reforms to ensure that national legislation meets the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) increasingly take into account the cross-cutting provisions of the convention regarding equality and non-discrimination.
  • These are set out in Article 3 of the CRPD, on general principles, and Article 5, on equality and non-discrimination.
  • Member States should ensure that they incorporate the principles of equality and non-discrimination when adapting their legal frameworks in line with the human rights-based approach to disability which underpins the convention. All reforms should take into account the needs of persons with different types of impairments.

The composition and role of bodies to implement and monitor the CRPD, required under Article 33 of the convention, were not finalised in five Member States at the end of 2014, although the last of these Member States had ratified the convention in 2012.
  • Those Member States that have not yet designated these bodies should take steps to establish them as soon as possible. All Member States should ensure that Article 33 CRPD bodies have sufficient financial and human resources to carry out their functions, and that disabled persons organisations (DPOs) participate fully in the monitoring process.


Publication date: 16 June 2016

FRA annual report 2014 - Equality (356.43 KB)

Publication date: 24 June 2015

Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2014 - FRA Annual report (3.02 MB)

Publication date: 02 June 2014

Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2013 - Annual report 2013 (4.96 MB)