Combatting Discrimination

The European Union has established itself as a place where people of different sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, age or sexual orientation or gender identity can live together in peace. However, recent years have witnessed a rise in fear and resentment in European societies largely linked to migration, religious extremism and an austerity-driven socio-economic climate. Moreover, the findings of national and EU level research suggest that many EU citizens still experience discrimination and inequalities on many grounds. The findings also show that incidents of discrimination are still rarely reported by the victims.

Milieu has provided the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Fundamental Rights Agency with legal and policy advice in this area to evaluate and improve regulatory frameworks, public policies and institutional set ups.

Some examples of Milieu’s work in this field are:


Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe and yet, despite the majority being EU citizens, they face an overwhelming amount of intolerance, discrimination and poverty across the EU. In 2011, to address these issues, in 2011, the European Commission developed an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, which called upon Member States to develop detailed plans to better integrate and elevate Roma. The mid-term evaluation, led by ICF and commissioned by DG JUST, sought to assess the implementation and achievements of the Framework, particularly the extent to which access to education, employment, healthcare and housing, had improved.

Milieu was involved in nearly all stages of the project’s implementation including the literature review, country case studies, analysis, NGO workshop and final report drafting.

The final report can be found online.

In light of the EU2020 Strategy, the European Commission sought to understand how discrimination in the EU had affected economic growth. DG JUST therefore issued a study to analyse the national situations and policy developments regarding discrimination on the grounds of age, ethnic/racial origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion/belief as well as discrimination on multiple grounds.

Milieu provided concise country overviews on non-discrimination policies and legislation, prepared policy recommendations and provided regular media reviews on non-discrimination topics for each of the EU Member States. Milieu also supported the European Commission in mainstreaming non-discrimination policies into the EU2020 Strategy by providing thematic fiches and policy briefings (including a guidance document).

An impact assessment is a decision-making tool used by the European Union to properly gauge whether a need exists for EU action, usually in the form of a law, and considers possible impacts to available solutions. The impact assessment for this project focused on the potential costs and benefits to small and medium–sized enterprises and national public administrations of implementing the proposed Equal Treatment Directive.

Milieu reviewed five representative Member States (the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Romania) to estimate related costs of: disability discrimination for access to the provision of goods and services; age discrimination in healthcare and social care; and sexual orientation in accessing social advantages. Reports were drafted to provide a clear picture of national anti-discrimination legislation after the implementation of EU legislation and the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). As a next step, national economic reports provided numbers on what the implementation of the proposed Directive would cost in the selected areas. The final report can be found online.