Around one in six people in Europe claim to have personally experienced discrimination in the past year, according to a new opinion survey released by the European Commission today. Meanwhile, 64% of Europeans are concerned that the recession will contribute to more age discrimination in the job market. The latest Eurobarometer results come ahead of this year's European Equality Summit, to be held in Stockholm on 16 and-17 November.
Personal experience of discrimination by respondents remains largely unchanged since the same survey was carried out last year, with age being the most common reason (6% of respondents). Overall, 16% of Europeans reported experiencing discrimination (on the basis of race, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation) in 2009, the same level as in 2008.
However, there has been a strong increase in perceived discrimination based on age and disability. 58% of Europeans consider age discrimination to be widespread in their country, compared to 42% in 2008, while 53% cite disability discrimination (45% in 2008).
There is also a clear link with the current economic situation, with 64% of people expecting the downturn to lead to more age discrimination in the job market. This may reflect rising unemployment among young people in many EU countries as a result of the slowdown and could also reflect growing awareness of these forms of discrimination.
Raising public awareness is a long-term process which requires joint efforts at European and national level, including important actors such as National Equality Bodies. The European Commission is pursuing efforts in this area through the 'For Diversity. Against Discrimination' pan-European information campaign, by funding national awareness-raising projects under the PROGRESS programme, and previously through the 2007 European Year for Equal Opportunities.
On 16-17 November 2009, the Swedish Presidency of the EU and the European Commission will organise the 3 rd EU Equality Summit in Stockholm. This annual event aims to drive discrimination and diversity issues to the very top of EU and national governments' agendas, and to share knowledge and experiences in order to develop more effective ways of counteracting all forms of discrimination.
This is the third in a series of Special Eurobarometer surveys on discrimination in Europe and aims to track how perceptions and opinions have changed in recent years. This latest survey was conducted between 29 May and 15 June 2009, with a sample of 26,756 people interviewed in 30 European countries (27 EU Member States and the three candidate countries).
This time, new questions were added on the impact of the recession on the perceived level of discrimination. In addition and for the first time, the survey also covered the three Candidate Countries: Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Turkey. The previous surveys were carried out in 2006 and 2008.