Equality in Europe

Equality as a core European value

The European Union is founded on the value of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Equality as a core value of the European Union motivates a shared concern for human dignity; the participation by all in economic, social and cultural life; a voice for all groups in decisions that impact on them; and a celebration of diversity. A European Union that values equality, and that gives life to this value, creates societies where all people and social groups flourish. European equal treatment legislation was created to reflect this core value by ensuring the basic principle of equal treatment, and supporting and protecting people who face discrimination. National equality bodies are champions for the core EU value of equality and defenders of the right to non-discrimination.

Legislative Framework on Equality

On a European level there are two different legislative frameworks regarding equality and non-discrimination law, that of the European Union and that of the Council of Europe. There are also United Nations conventions that make up the broader international legislative framework in the field. The right to equality and freedom from discrimination is the only right set out in all nine of the core UN human rights treaties.