2019 is a milestone year for Equinet as our European Network of Equality Bodies embarks on the first year of its new Strategic Plan for the period 2019 – 2022. Building upon our achievements and learnings from previous years, we start with renewed motivation and energy to work towards the realisation of the objectives under the new Strategic Plan, to advance and achieve substantive equality for all in Europe.
In past years, Equinet’s focused work towards promoting standards for equality bodies materialised in two important documents at European level. In 2018, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation on standards for equality bodies in order to ensure the independence and effectiveness of national equality bodies. The Recommendation, a legal act of the Commission, sets minimum standards concerning the mandate of equality bodies; their independence; their effectiveness, including sufficient resources and appropriate powers; and the national institutional architecture for equality. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe also published its revised General Policy Recommendation No 2, providing standards to member states for the mandate, institutional infrastructure, effectiveness, independence and accessibility of equality bodies in order to realise their full potential and better protect people facing discrimination. In 2019, Equinet and national equality bodies must now take on the challenge to promote and support the monitoring and implementation of the European Commission’s Recommendation and the ECRI General Policy Recommendation at national level across Europe.
2019 will also be a year of important milestones for equality in Europe. In May 2019, Europe will elect a new Parliament to serve the Union for the next five years, and a new European Commission will be appointed. Equinet and equality bodies will closely follow the developments leading to the formation of the European Union’s key institutions. We will take on the challenge to pursue work on their values-based messaging to promote the appreciation of equality and diversity as core values in Europe, to ensure a strong equality agenda for the years to come at European level. This political commitment must be supported by strong financial mechanisms. Equinet will support the EU institutions in their work towards the adoption of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework Post-2020 with a strong equality focus.
We look forward to an important year of work, addressing challenges and exploring opportunities on topics including sexual harassment, promoting equality for older persons, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), artificial intelligence and digitalisation, positive narratives, among other important priorities. In this context, in 2019 we will continue to work with our member national equality bodies across Europe, as well as the range of our partners and stakeholders at European level to effectively tackle discrimination and achieve substantive equality for everyone in Europe.