Held on 22 September 2015 in the offices of the Secretary of State of Social Services and Equality (Spain), this European roundtable was organized in the framework of a bilateral exchange project between the Norwegian Equality Ombud (LDO) and the Spanish Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination
The knowledge gathered through this exchange, together with the work on standards for equality bodies recently launched in the framework of Equinet, offer a solid basis for a general reflection on possibilities and challenges of strengthening existing Equality bodies.
The bilateral exchange project is co-financed under the Programme on Equality and Conciliation of Personal and Family Life of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA-Grants).
The aim of this roundtable was to reflect on the challenges posed by an expansion of existing equality bodies in terms of the discrimination grounds covered, its powers, its visibility and/or its accessibility and capacity to reach out to victims of discrimination and to come up with strategies and practical solutions to tackle them.
The roundtable applied the Chatham House Rules, but overall, the different working sessions discussed the above-mentioned challenges on the basis of the practical experiences that specific equality bodies have gathered when expanding their scope and powers or otherwise reinforcing their institutional position, their independence, their outreach capacity or their overall effectiveness.
An introductory session on the evolution of EU law (Sarah-Jane King, Deputy Head of Unit, Equal Treatment Legislation, DG Justice, European Commission), the existing trends and typology (Niall Crowley, Equinet board advisor), and the current work on standards for equality bodies (Anne Gaspard, Equinet Executive Director) set the framework for these discussions.
European institutions, leading staff of the Norwegian LDO and other selected European equality bodies, members of the Spanish Council for the Elimination of Ethnic or Racial Discrimination and independent experts in the field of non discrimination attended the meeting. Equinet members were present in most session as speakers. See the Agenda below for more details.
**Session 1: Equality Bodies: models and standards
Moderator: Jose Manuel Fresno. Consultant. Fresno the right link. Member of the Scientific Committee of the FRA.
- Evolution of equality bodies and EU Law – Sarah-Jane King, Deputy Head of Unit, Equal Treatment Legislation, DG Justice, European Commission
- Typology and trends of equality bodies – Niall Crowley, Independent Expert
- The work of Equinet on Standards for equality bodies, Anne Gaspard, Executive Director, Equinet
**Session 2: Expanding discrimination grounds
Moderator: Anne Gaspard, Executive Director, Equinet.
- Norwegian example – Elisabeth Lier Haugseth, Deputy Director, Equality and Antidiscrimination Ombud, Norway
- Italian example – Marco Buemi, Director, Ufficio Nazionale Antidiscriminazioni Raziali (UNAR), Italy.
- Austrian example – Ingrid Nikolay-Leitner, Director, Anwaltschaft für Gleichbehandlung, Austria.
**Session 3: Enhancing powers of equality bodies
Moderator: Ignacio Sola Barleycorn, Deputy Director for Equality and Non Discrimination, Spain.
- Strategic Litigation – Patrick Charlier, Director, Centre Interfédéral pour l’Egalité de Chances, Belgium.
- UK Northern Ireland example – Evelyn Collins, Chief Executive, Equality Commission, Northern Ireland
**Session 4: Improving capacity to reach out, engage with stakeholders and communicate effectively
Moderator: Niall Crowley, Independent expert.
- Spanish example Pablo López Pietsch, Assistant Deputy Director, Institut of Women and Equal Opportunities, Spain / Sara Giménez Giménez, Coordinator of the Assistance Service to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, Spain. Head of legal department of Fundación Secretariado Gitano. (Oslo presentation included here as it is in English, but very similar to presentation made in Spanish at this meeting
- Norwegian example – Randi Hagen Eriksrud, Head of Communications Department. Equality and Non Discrimination Ombud, Norway.
- German example – Ann Kathrin Sost, Communication Official. Antidiskriminierungsstelle, Germany.
- Stakeholder Strategy – UK-NI – Evelyn Collins, Chief Executive, Equality Commission, Northern Ireland
**Session 5: Conclusions and closure
- Ignacio Sola Barleycorn, Deputy Director General for Equal Treatment and Non Discrimination, Institute of Women and for Equal Opportunities. Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, Spain.