Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency

The Directives on Equal Treatment of the European Union

Between 2000 and 2004 the Council of the European Union adopted four directives on equal treatment which are incorporated into German law by the General Act on Equal Treatment.

In their respective scopes, these directives provide definitions of the various kinds of discrimination and include, inter alia, obligations to impose effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions in cases of infringement of the principle of equal treatment as well as for the purpose of facilitating the furnishing of proof by the persons affected. These directives are supposed to change social reality in the EU member states, i.e. they shall not only put a ban on discrimination, but eliminate it efficiently.

The directives are in particular:

  • Council Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin
  • Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation
  • Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 76/207/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions
  • and the Council Directive 2004/113/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services.

The purpose of Council Directive 2000/43/EC, also called the 'Anti-Racism Directive', is to create a framework to combat all kinds of discrimination on grounds of racism or those which have occurred on grounds of ethnic origin.

With its Council Directive 2000/78/EC, the European Union pursues the goal of creating a general framework to combat all kinds of discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in employment and occupation.

Council Directive 2002/73/EC, also called the EU Gender Directive, deals with putting the principle of equal treatment of men and women into effect, with regard to their access to employment, vocational training and promotion as well as with regard to working conditions.

Outside the world of work, this directive for gender equality serves the purpose of creating a framework to combat gender-specific forms of discrimination in connection with the access to and supply of goods and services.