On 6 June, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published its Fundamental Rights Report 2018. This year the Report explores how a rights-based approach towards respect for older people is starting to happen.
Given this year’s theme, FRA dedicated its focus chapter to equal treatment for older people and respect for their fundamental rights. It recognises growing awareness of the issue and how policies are changing to better respect their rights. However, it advises against a one-size-fits-all approach as barriers faced by women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities may be compounded as they age. It also warns how young people today may face difficulties in later life if their education is poor and they cannot find work.
The Report underlines the need to broaden protection against discrimination on the grounds of age by adopting the EU’s Equal Treatment Directive that extends anti-discrimination protection beyond employment to access to services, housing and healthcare, etc. It also suggests making better use of EU funds to promote inclusion and equal treatment for older people.
Tackling Ageism and Discrimination (EN)The focus of this year’s report comes with the acknowledgment that nearly 60% of Europeans consider being old a disadvantage when looking for work. Societies often view older people as burdens and too often overlook the basic human rights of our older people. Equinet’s 2012 Perspective on Tackling Ageism and Discrimination has also informed this year’s Fundamental Rights Report and Focus Chapter.
The report also summarises and analyses major human rights developments in the EU in 2017. Its proposals for action cover: use of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Charter by Member States; equality and non-discrimination; racism, xenophobia and related intolerance; Roma integration; asylum, borders and migration; information society, privacy and data protection; child rights; access to justice; and implementing the UN’s disability convention.
Equality and non-discrimination
The 3rd chapter of the Report is dedicated to equality and non-discrimination. It emphasized that the year 2017 brought mixed progress in promoting equality and non-discrimination in the European Union (EU). “While the Equal Treatment Directive – proposed in 2008 – had not been adopted by year-end, the EU proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights, which is rooted in the principle of non-discrimination. Restrictions on religious clothing and symbols at work or in public spaces remained a subject of attention, particularly affecting Muslim women. Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons made some advances, particularly regarding the civil status of same-sex couples. Meanwhile, findings drawing on a wide range of equality data – including data obtained through discrimination testing – show that unequal treatment and discrimination remain realities in European societies.“, is noted in the Report.
Overview of Standards – PDFThis section also highlights the role of National Equality Bodies and Equinet at European level, specifically crediting the Network for the development of standards for equality bodies during 2017, following up on the publication of its working paper on the topic in November 2016. It notes that further development of these standards will be based on the revision of the General Policy Recommendation issued by the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), which urges setting up specialised bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at the national level (p. 56).