Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits discrimination on any grounds, including gender, race, colour, ethnic or social group, nationality, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or other convictions, membership of a minority group, disability, age and sexual orientation.
In addition, two EU Directives tackle discrimination. The first bans discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin in a range of fields (employment and occupation, social advantages, social protection including healthcare, access to goods and services, access to education), while the second prohibits discrimination in the workplace on grounds of religion or belief, age, disability or sexual orientation.
Separate legislation prohibits racist and xenophobic speech and crime. It bans – through criminal law –incitement to violence and hatred based on race, colour, religion, descent, or national or ethnic origin. Incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality through audiovisual media services is also prohibited.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) provides the relevant EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, as well as EU countries, with assistance and expertise as they implement Union law. For this purpose, it collects and disseminates objective, reliable and comparable data on fundamental rights at European level.
Further afield, the EU raises the issue of discrimination in dialogues with third countries, and has incorporated it into cooperation programmes. For example, all parties to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) must commit to combating all forms of discrimination, religious intolerance, racism and xenophobia.
The EU also works actively with the UN, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. The work of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is used by the European Commission in the framework of EU enlargement and the ENP.
Under its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the EU also provides funding to a number of NGOs fighting racism, xenophobia and discrimination.