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For many years the focus of EU action in the field of non-discrimination was on preventing discrimination on the grounds of nationality and gender. A few years ago, however, the EU countries approved unanimously new powers to combat discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

New legislation thus has been enacted in the area of anti-discrimination, which is the Racial Equality Directive (implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin in many areas of social life) and the Employment Equality Directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation.

European legislation addresses disability in a broad range of areas, Directives on anti-discrimination being only one of them. Other measures for disabled people include sector of transport or telecommunications, regulation on state aid promoting the recruitment of disabled workers or the open method of coordination enabling disability issues to be taken into consideration in employment, social inclusion and protection, pensions, health and long-term care.

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