Commission launches public consultation on anti-discrimination policy 

In June 2004, the European Commission launched an online public consultation on the future direction of anti-discrimination policy in the EU. Based on a Green Paper on this issue, the consultation will be open until the end of August 2004.

On 3 June 2004, the European Commission announced the launch of a public online consultation exercise on the future direction of anti-discrimination policy, in the context of an enlarged EU. The consultation website asks for the opinions of interested parties on how the EU can help to combat discrimination and promote the positive benefits of diversity. This consultation exercise is based on a Green Paper, adopted by the Commission on 26 May 2004, entitled Equality and non-discrimination in an enlarged EU.

The Commission states that discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, age and religion or belief has already been tackled by a range of EU measures - notably Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (EU0006256F) and Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (EU0102295F) - but that problems remain. For example, the Commission states that there is evidence that some forms of discrimination are on the increase and that EU minimum standards have not been fully implemented and enforced in some Member States.

The Commission notes that EU enlargement offers a new opportunity for all Member States to work together to promote the inclusion and participation of disadvantaged groups. It stresses that efforts should be made to support the Roma community, which is 'often a victim of discriminatory practices' and which has, with EU enlargement in May 2004, become the EU’s largest minority ethnic group.

The Green Paper outlines the steps the EU has already taken to combat discrimination, both in employment and in other areas. It also identifies a range of areas where it believes that further action is required to ensure that all people can benefit from their rights, and sets out a range of practical measures aimed at supporting the efforts of national authorities, civil society and other stakeholders.

The Commission states that it wants to hear what 'people on the ground' feel about these issues, how they are affected and what action they expect from the EU. The consultation will be open until 31 August 2004.

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