Equality and non-discrimination under the Belgian Presidency

Brief overview of the programme of the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council.

The Presidency Trio of Spain, Belgium and Hungary is the first to work under the new Lisbon Treaty. Spain started the 18-month rotating Presidency by running it from January to June 2010. Belgium assumes now the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) until December 2010 and precedes Hungary.

The current Presidency is marked by the desire to ensure a continuation of the work done under the Spanish Presidency. A pledge was made to continue making progress in the struggle against discrimination and for equality. In fact, the programme stipulates that ‘The Belgian Presidency will continue the work of the Spanish presidency concerning the implementation of the principle of equality of treatment of individuals without distinction of religion, disability, age or sexual orientation.’

The issue of equality takes a significant place in the six-month programme. The promotion and protection of Human Rights is also considered as a priority. The programme entails references to topics closely linked to equality and anti-discrimination such as:

  • European Union’s adoption of the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with disabilities
  • the issue of age is omnipresent, especially in the light of changing demographics
  • the proposal for a directive concerning the implementation of measures aimed at promoting the improved health and safety of pregnant workers, those having given birth, or those breastfeeding at work.
  • importance that lessons are drawn from the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion and that the Council adopts conclusions relating to child poverty, universal access to quality healthcare, homelessness and the prevention of poverty
  • organisation of a Conference on disability concerning the coordination and implementation of tools envisaged by the United Nations convention on the subject
  • ensure that the Council adopts the conclusions on the basis of the communication by the Commission relating to the new strategy on equality between men and women (2011-2015). In addition, the Council will adopt conclusions concerning equality of salaries between men and women within the context of the implementation of the Beijing action plan (UN Conference 1995).
  • combating violence against women is another matter which will receive the Presidency’s full attention
  • an initial policy debate on the working time directive according to the results of consultations with social partners should take place.

    Related information

The start of the Belgian presidency represents also a great opportunity for NGOs at European level to reiterate their priorities and call for action to ensure protection against discrimination. Read below some of the memorandums issued by EU NGOs acting in the field of equality and anti-discrimination.

European Women’s Lobby 12 priorities

ILGA Europe memorandum (PDF, 225KB)

ERIO’s recommendations (PDF, 242KB)

ENAR’s 9-point call for action

Trade unions and social partners at EU level have also communicated their priority areas for action in the social and economic fields.

ETUC’s memorandum (page 10-12)

CEEP website

UEAPME website


Read the programme of the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council (PDF)

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