Vice-President Reding confirms full EC support to equality bodies in answer to MEPs’ question

In their question to the European Commission, MEPs Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), Sophia in ‘t Veld (ALDE), Claude Moraes (S&D), Lívia Járóka (PPE), Michael Cashman (S&D), Zita Gurmai (S&D), Emine Bozkurt (S&D), Kinga Göncz (S&D) addressed the issue of “independent and effective equality bodies to ensure the implementation and impact of EU equal treatment legislation”.


MEPs’ question for written answer to the European Commission

Equality bodies are established in all EU Member States in compliance with the EU equal treatment directives.

They play a key role in the effective implementation of these directives and, as the study on equality bodies prepared for the Commission in 2010 established, equality bodies have significant potential in assisting victims of discrimination, empowering civil society, supporting good practice by employers and service providers, raising awareness of rights and obligations, contributing to quality public policy making, and supporting a culture of rights and equality in the Member States.

However, the directives do not provide adequate standards and guarantees for the independence and effectiveness of equality bodies, and a number of Member States, under the cover of the economic crisis, are challenging and undermining the independence and effectiveness of their national equality bodies.

These developments are threatening the accomplishment of the objectives and undermining the effective implementation of the EU equal treatment directives exactly at a time when protection against discrimination for vulnerable groups and individuals is most needed.

There is therefore a need to introduce some form of standards at EU level, tailored specifically for equality bodies. Such standards will stimulate the further development of equality bodies, will ensure that they can achieve their full potential and will offer them protection.

What steps, actions and initiatives does the Commission plan to take in order to provide adequate standards to achieve, promote and protect the independence and effectiveness of national equality bodies set up pursuant to the EU equal treatment directives and thereby to ensure the effective implementation of those directives?”

Link to official question.


Answer given by Vice-President Reding on behalf of the European Commission

“The European Commission also considers that Equality bodies play a key role in the implementation of the equal treatment directives, in the fight against discrimination and in providing assistance to victims of discrimination.

Directives 2000/43/EC on racial equality, 2004/113/EC on gender equality in the access to and supply of goods and services and 2006/54/EC on gender equality in employment and occupation require Member States to “designate and make the necessary arrangements for a body or bodies for the promotion, analysis, monitoring and support of equal treatment of all persons without discrimination”.

According to the Directives, equality bodies have to cover, as a minimum, the grounds of racial or ethnical origin as well as sex and to carry out at least the following specific tasks: (i) providing independent assistance to victims of discrimination in pursuing the complaints of discrimination; (ii) conducting independent surveys concerning discrimination; and (iii) publishing independent reports and making recommendations on any issue related to such discrimination.

Full implementation of these provisions requires Member States to ensure that the bodies they designate as Equality bodies are able to carry out the tasks given to them in the Directives independently and effectively.

The Commission monitors the correct implementation of EU anti-discrimination directives, and takes appropriate action, including initiation of infringement proceedings before the Court of Justice, in cases in which Member States do not comply with EU obligations.”

Link to official answer./]

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