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Anti-Discrimination & Equality

About our anti-discrimination and equality programme

MPG’s Anti-discrimination and Equality programme focuses on strategies to combat discrimination on all grounds, particularly on nationality, ethnicity, race and religion, and to promote equality for all.

Our activities are based on setting standards, campaigning for their adoption, monitoring their implementation and in turn empowering stakeholders and civil society to act on them by developing trainings, setting up networks and facilitating transnational exchange.

The Anti-discrimination programme is guided by the following objectives:

  • Improve protection against discrimination
  • Expand anti-discrimination law and practices
  • Raise awareness and knowledge of means to prevent and combat discrimination
  • Enhance the capacity of civil society to act on anti-discrimination
  • Enhance the capacity of key stakeholders to design new enforcement strategies

MPG’s programme on Anti-discrimination and Equality has increased the body of knowledge on anti-discrimination policies and law in Europe, making it possible to compare and monitor changes in national approaches. 

MPG enhances the capacity of a wide range of stakeholders and civil society (including NGOs, and trade unions) to fight discrimination, and promotes co-operation among a variety of actors across Europe.

MPG uses the following tools to implement its Anti-discrimination programme:

  • Standard setting
  • Impact assessment
  • Monitoring implementation at national level
  • Training programmes – training trainers

highlighted projects

Fighting discrimination and promoting employment equality through public procurement – Lyon – 9 December 2014

min-interieurSince 2012, the BUYDIS project explored the legal context and the practicalities of including diversity and equality criteria in public procurement, with the French think-tank ISM-Corum and the cities of Lyon and Nantes. The first phase of this 12-month project, supported financially and politically by the French Ministry of the Interior, comes to an end.

MPG Policy Analyst Anne Friel, who led MPG’s work in this area, will present practical examples from Europe at a seminar organised in Lyon on the occasion of the release of the final report.

The seminar and the report will be presented in French.

Legal Seminar – Enforcement of equality and non-discrimination law – Brussels – 28 November 2014

Legal Seminar – Enforcement of equality and non-discrimination law – Brussels – 28 November 2014

The European Network of Legal Experts in the non-discrimination field, together with the European Network of Legal Experts in the field of gender equality, have organised a legal seminar to discuss issues of importance for the effective enforcement of equality and non-discrimination legislation at EU and national level.

The 2014 Legal Seminar aims to provide representatives of governments, Equality Bodies, members of both Networks and other selected stakeholders of all EU Member States with an opportunity to exchange views on the transposition and implementation of EU equality and anti-discrimination Directives.

In particular, the seminar will bring together a number of high level academics and experts from across the European Union and candidate countries. It will allow for assessment of current legal developments, to share experiences and practices and to look to future prospects in the area of non-discrimination and gender equality. This year the particular focus of the seminar will be on issues related to the enforcement and effective implementation of equality and non-discrimination law.

Please note that this was a closed event for members of the Legal networks and invitees of the European Commission only.

The following workshops were organised during which both theoretical presentations as well as case studies presented by practitioners were discussed:

  1. Update on European case-law
  2. Parental leave and the conciliation of work and family life
  3. Self-employment
  4. Burden of proof
  5. Sexual orientation

The seminar also provided an opportunity to present and discuss products of the two Networks of independent legal experts.

The annual seminar is organised by the European Network of Legal Experts in the non-discrimination field on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation (managed by the Migration Policy Group and European Human Consultancy) and the European Commission, in cooperation with the European Network of Legal Experts in the field of gender equality (managed by the Faculty of Law of Utrecht University).

Anti-discrimination and Equality work in Use

Anti-discrimination report highlighted in EC’s 2012 review of PROGRESS programme

t2-345-UPDATE_Prohibition_of_Discrimination_under_European_Human_Rights_Law_Thematic_report_2011According to the European Commission’s 2012 review of the PROGRESS programme, the report The prohibition of discrimination under European human rights law: Relevance for the EU non-discrimination directives — an update is among the five top most appreciated PROGRESS-funded outputs.

The report, authored by Olivier De Schutter and produced by the European Network of Legal Experts in the field of discrimination, gives an overview on the protection from discrimination under the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights and the 1961 European Social Charter as well as the 1996 Revised European Social Charter, which are the main human rights treaties of the Council of Europe.

The report seeks to identify aspects of that protection which could influence the outstanding questions of interpretation of Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin and Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, as well as the proposed Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

The European Network of Legal Experts in the field of discrimination is co-managed by MPG and HEC.

European Network of Independent Legal Experts in the field of non-discrimination highlighted as a key actor by European Parliament for protecting LGBTI rights

LGBTIA new study released at the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, presents an overview of problems faced by LGBTI persons as identified in EU studies, along with EU actions taken in this area to date. It focuses in particular on the areas of Equality (including in the fields of employment, health, education, access to goods and services and housing); specific trans and intersex issues; diverse families and freedom of movement; freedom of assembly and expression; hate speech, hate crime and violence; and fleeing homophobia and transphobia. Based on these findings, it proposes recommendations with a timeline which could be included in a roadmap for equality on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This study reviews each of the actors that would be involved in the concrete actions recommended for an EU roadmap in the area of safeguarding LGBTI rights, including the European Network of Independent Legal Experts in the field of non-discrimination which has recently published a report on ‘Discrimination against trans and intersex people on the grounds of sex, gender identity and gender expression‘, providing important insight into questions of gender identity and gender expression.

To read the European Parliament study, please see here.

To read the thematic report, please see here.

Anti-discrimination and equality work in context

Discrimination is “alive and well” in France

On 10 April the French national statistics institute INSEE published a compilation of 11 different studies measuring the influence of gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and health status on inequalities in different areas of society. The interesting conclusions that can be drawn from this research include the existence of striking differences in treatment that can’t be explained by other factors than discrimination, in areas such as access to social housing, employment and education. The general conclusion which is drawn is that the white, heterosexual male aged 30-50 remains privileged compared to all other groups of people in today’s society.

graphs_for-sliderThese data corroborate previous findings of the European Network of Legal Experts in the non-discrimination field, such as for instance those of the recent thematic report Discrimination in housing, authored by Nicolas Bernard and Julie Ringelheim in 2013. It also demonstrates the importance of having relevant equality data to be able to prove the existence of discrimination, and to raise an effective fight against it. This is the main aim of the Equality Data Initiative of the Open Society Foundations, MPG and ENAR, which focuses on equality data collection in seven European countries, including France.

Situation testing on racial discrimination in private education

Researchers in France have tested the registration of pupils in private education establishments, using two fictive fathers who contacted more than 4000 such (catholic) establishments wanting to register their children, one of them having a traditionally French sounding name and the other with a North-African sounding name. The results of the situation testing showed the existence of racial discrimination as the latter of the two fathers received less answers in general and the answers he did receive were less often positive. In addition, the father of ‘French’ origin received more firm positive answers than the ‘North African’ father, who was more often told that he needed to come in for an interview before the child could be registered. One author of the study explains its results on French public broadcasting radio France-Info:


MPG’s project on Situation Testing aimed at raising awareness of the technique of situation testing, discussing its use for purposes other than litigation and concluding on the best way to expand its application to the public sector. The project included the handbook Proving discrimination cases: the role of Situation Testing,  which provides a comparative overview of the use of situation testing in various cases in Europe as well as guidelines aiming at informing the targets of discrimination and their organisations on how to conduct situation testing.

Furthermore a series of trainings for the national NGO community on situation testing has been taking place in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The next training is scheduled for the first semester of 2014.



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