The European Commission has recommended a new set of measures for member states to ensure national equality bodies fight discrimination and protect citizens.
National equality bodies fight discrimination on all grounds by helping victims, monitoring and reporting on discrimination issues, and promoting equality. These organisations are also responsible for raising awareness on the options for citizens to access equality bodies and exercise their rights in case of discrimination.
The new rules will ensure that member states’ equality organisations are independent and have the necessary resources to combat all types of discrimination, including:
- Race or ethnic origin;
- Sexual orientation;
- Religion or belief;
- Disability; or
Each member state is required by EU law to have at least one equality body which monitors discrimination, and the new recommendations will strengthen their ability to protect the equal treatment of all citizens.
What measures has the commission recommended?
The commission’s measures include efforts to secure greater independence of national equality bodies through their administrative structure, budget allocation and preventing conflicts of interest. These equality bodies should be able to access information and gather evidence when investigating cases.
Further, member states should enable equality bodies to provide legal assistance and represent victims in court, while also providing adequate technical, financial and human resources and infrastructure.
What are the European Commission’s concerns about equality?
European Commissioner for Justice and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, explained the need to help national equality bodies fight discrimination as part of a broader drive towards equality across the bloc. This equality, she emphasised, is a core principle upon which the European Union is built.
Jourová said: “Discrimination has no place in the EU. Victims or witnesses of discrimination should know where to turn and equality bodies are there to help them in these situations. We must ensure that national equality bodies are independent, with sufficient resources to carry out their task. They play a key role in ensuring all citizens are given equal rights and equal opportunities.”