The Racial Equality Directive - From law to practice

7 / 2013
Thien Uyen DO

The transposition of the Racial Equality Directive (2000/43/EC) has immensely enhanced legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of racial and ethnic origin throughout the EU. More than 10 years after its adoption, the main challenge identified in many Member States is the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in practice, in particular with regard to access to justice. Ultimately it is up to the domestic courts to ensure effective implementation of anti-discrimination law. Polls regularly show that the discrepancy between the levels of discrimination experienced and discrimination re- ported by victims must be seriously addressed. Awareness is low not only among the public but also among the members of the legal professions, leading to under-reporting of discrimination cases. In addition, data that reflect the ethnic or racial composition of the population are scarce which makes it difficult to prove discrimination before the competent authorities. Moreover, certain procedural difficulties that affect access to justice and effective enforcement also stem from the short limitation periods foreseen in legislation, lengthy procedures, evidence, high costs and failures in the provision of legal aid, ineffective sanctions, as well as barriers in the form of language and issues relating to legal standing or legitimate interest. The law remains complex and remedies often inadequate.