Persons belonging to minorities are often at risk of being discriminated against and, indeed, in most cases their being different from people belonging to the majority population is neither respected nor protected. Therefore, the FRA founding regulation underlines that the ‘work of the Agency should continue to cover [...] the protection of rights of persons belonging to minorities [...] as essential elements for the protection of fundamental rights'. The document setting out the FRA subject areas for 2007-2012, the Multi-annual Framework (MAF), lists discrimination ‘against persons belonging to minorities' as one of the thematic areas on which FRA should focus over this period.

The FRA provides comparative data on the situation of persons belonging to minorities to inform EU policies and Member States policies when implementing EU law. This evidence-based advice aims to further improve law and policy making at all layers of government.

In his 2008 speech on the European foundation for democracy through partnership, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, defined ‘rights of minorities [and] the fight against discrimination' as one of the essential factors in democracy. Europe's diversity is not only about the richness of national identities but also about the variety of minorities living in European societies. In fact, the Charter of Fundamental Rights demands of the EU to respect Europe's cultural, linguistic and religious diversity. The Treaty of Lisbon underlined that the ‘rights of persons belonging to minorities' are a value on which ‘the Union is founded' and that this value is ‘common to the Member States'.

Recent FRA reports dealing with minority issues include:

- EU-MIDIS: European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey, December 2009;

- Community cohesion at local level: Addressing the needs of Muslim communities, March 2008;

- Incident report on violent attacks against Roma in Italy, August 2008;

- Housing conditions of Roma and Travellers in the European Union - Comparative report October 2009;

- The situation of Roma EU citizens moving to and settling in other EU Member States, November 2009


Respect for and protection of persons belonging to minorities 2008-2010


This report examines what the Treaty of Lisbon means for the protection of minorities, and the policies the EU has recently adopted in this field. It provides evidence of the still persistent phenomenon of discrimination found in many areas of life, including employment, housing, healthcare and education.