Discrimination in the EU in 2009

23-11-2009 | European commission

The European anti-discrimination legislation is one of the most extensive in the world

This report presents the results from a new Eurobarometer survey on discrimination. It is the third in a series of surveys commissioned by the European Commission DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
The European anti-discrimination legislation is one of the most extensive in the world. In 2000, the European Union adopted two very far-reaching laws1 to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation2. As far as racial and ethnic origin is concerned, this legislation extends to other aspects of daily life, such as education and social services. These texts come in addition to numerous laws that have been adopted at EU level since 1975 to promote equality between women and men in the workplace3.

The first survey4 was conducted in the summer of 2006 in anticipation of the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. This European Year aimed to inform citizens of their rights, to celebrate diversity and to promote equal opportunities for everyone in the European Union. This initiative led the way to a bolder strategy seeking to give momentum to the fight against discrimination in the EU5. Drawing on the successful implementation of the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All6, the Commission adopted under its renewed social agenda on 2 July 2008 a nondiscrimination package comprising: a proposal for a new directive on equal treatment prohibiting discrimination on grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief outside the employment sphere and a communication which presents a comprehensive approach to step up action against discrimination and promote equal opportunities7.

The second survey was conducted in early 2008 to track how perceptions and opinions in this field had changed in the intervening year8. The latest survey was conducted between 29 May and 15 June 2009. This time, new questions were added notably to measure the extent to which the economic crisis may hamper the implementation of anti-discrimination policies and efforts. In addition and for the first time, the survey also covered the three Candidate Countries: Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Turkey.

All three surveys have been carried out by TNS Opinion & Social network. The methodology used is that of Eurobarometer surveys as carried out by the Directorate General for Communication (“Research and Political Analysis” Unit)9. A technical note on the manner in which interviews were conducted by the Institutes within the TNS Opinion & Social network is appended as an annex to this report. This note indicates the interview methods and the confidence intervals10.

The findings from this survey provide insight into the perceptions, attitudes, knowledge and awareness of discrimination and inequality in the European Union and the Candidate Countries in 2009.

In the report the six legally prohibited grounds of discrimination in the EU are examined:
1. Gender
2. Ethnic origin
3. Religion or beliefs
4. Age
5. Disability
6. Sexual orientation

The report proceeds with the following structure:

♦ Setting the context, including whether citizens think of themselves as belonging
   to a minority group and the diversity of citizens’ social circles;
♦ Perceptions of discrimination covering attitudes to different groups and the
   perceived extent of discrimination in Europe;
♦ Measurements of discrimination in Europe, whether directly experienced by
   citizens or witnessed as happening to a third person;
♦ An examination of media coverage of diversity;
♦ Assessments of efforts made to combat discrimination;
♦ Knowledge of one’s rights as a potential victim of discrimination;
♦ Views on equal opportunities in employment;
♦ A detailed analysis of discrimination on individual grounds;
♦ An examination of the effect of the economic crisis on the perceived extent of discrimination and on efforts to combat it.

In analysing each of these issues, the report firstly presents overall results at the EU level, noting any significant evolutions compared to the 2008 survey. This is followed by a breakdown of results by country, before providing a detailed look at relevant variations between different segments of society. The latter analysis groups are all derived from answers to socio-demographic questions asked in the survey:

♦ Age, gender, education, urbanisation and place of birth (the typical sociodemographic questions of the Eurobarometer);

♦ Diversity of the respondent’s social circle11 (a question that is also analysed in this survey);

♦ Whether the respondent has been discriminated against or witnessed discrimination occurring (two further questions which are also analysed in this survey12). In addition some results are strongly linked with key attitudinal positions, namely:

♦ Perceptions of how widespread discrimination is in one’s country13;

♦ Whether respondents consider being part of a minority group14. In understanding the focus of this study, readers are reminded that the Eurobarometer is a general population survey of EU citizens aged 15 and, in some instances, of citizens in the Candidate Countries and/or EFTA countries. Whilst the Eurobarometer covers a cross-section of Europeans, this implies that only a small number of citizens belonging to the various minority groups in the EU will have been included in this study. Any analysis of the results pertaining to these specific sub-groups must therefore be treated with caution15.

The Eurobarometer website can be consulted at the following address:
http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm

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