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Overview of youth discrimination in the European Union

April 15th 2015

This report, prepared for DG Justice and Consumers in the European Commission, focuses on two areas of discrimination from the perspective of young people (broadly speaking those aged between 15 and 25 years) – namely on discrimination on the grounds of racial and ethnic origin, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Whilst in recent years these forms of discrimination have been the subject of discussion, the specific situation of young persons from these groups has been less well examined. Yet age discrimination is prevalent and often occurs in conjunction with discrimination on other grounds.

At the same time, the youth of today are facing unprecedented economic difficulties both in terms of obtaining employment, but also in terms of the level of wages, the extent of job security and the broader impacts this has on their social inclusion and poverty.

This is why Member States and the EU have so strongly prioritised action at the strategic and practical level (from EU2020 targets to Employment summits and youth guarantees) to get young people into work and to ensure they have sufficient education and training. Yet such action may fail to take into account the individual experiences and needs of young people. The discrimination that certain groups face from the earliest of ages, throughout their education and into adulthood and employment, can have a lifetime impact on their well-being and prosperity. This discrimination not only affects young people’s access to education and employment, but it also affects the quality of that education and employment. It is thus not sufficient to simply aim to increase levels of education and employment, but must also increase its quality. Improved quality of education and employment requires an inclusive environment. This can be reached through e.g. training of teachers, creation of youth networks, as well as awareness-raising on rights and perspectives of these vulnerable groups. Only through such an approach can economic and social success be truly achieved.

Whilst the focus of this report is on ethnicity, this ground of discrimination is closely linked and even intertwined with religious discrimination. Religious discrimination will be specifically tackled in a separate upcoming report by the Commission.

This report focuses generally on ethnic minorities. The complexity of integration of Roma is not specifically addressed as this has been subject of other recent publications. However, it needs to be highlighted that the Roma are some of the most vulnerable amongst ethnic minorities throughout the European Union, and many of the youth identifying as Roma face specific challenges in accessing education and employment.

You can download the report here.