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Grounds

Although European Anti-Discrimination law only requires that equality bodies are set up on the grounds of race and ethnic origin and gender, many countries have gone beyond these requirements and have equality bodies that deal with other grounds of discrimination (in particular, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability). Depending on their mandate, equality bodies can support victims of different grounds of discrimination in employment, education, housing, social protection and healthcare and in the provision of goods and services.

Consult our graphs and map below to identify which members can fight which grounds of discrimination and in which fields.

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Fields

Equality bodies cover different fields of discrimination, from employment, through education and healthcare to the provision of goods and services. While many Equinet members deal with discrimination in all fields of life, some are only mandated to deal with one or a few fields.

This part of the Directory provides information on which fields equality bodies cover, in conjunction with which grounds.

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Litigation Powers

This section identifies what litigation powers, if any, our member equality bodies have. These cover:

  • Representing victims in front of courts
  • Bringing proceedings in the equality body’s own name
  • Intervening before the court
  • Formally deciding on complaints (be they legally binding or not)
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Activities

Beyond their activities related to individual complaints and litigation, equality bodies can:

  • Conduct independent surveys on discrimination;
  • Publish independent reports and make recommendations on any issue relating to discrimination;
  • Run information campaigns aimed at the general public; and
  • Provide support to employers and service providers on good equality practice. 
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Other mandates

Equality bodies are independent statutory bodies established to implement equal treatment legislation and must have a broad mandate to promote and support the achievement of full equality in practice and to combat and eliminate all forms of discrimination in all areas of society.

In addition to the work being done under European Union equality legislation, Members States are also party to various conventions and agreements in international law and some equality bodies have additional functions relating to these fields of work and international obligations.

While it cannot be exhaustive in covering all the possible combination of additional functions, this section identifies whether or not Equinet member equality bodies also cover Violence against Women, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), as well as hate crime and hate speech in their mandate.

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Mandates

Equality bodies are independent organisations assisting victims of discrimination, monitoring and reporting on discrimination issues, and promoting equality. They are legally required to promote equality and combat discrimination in relation to one, some, or all of the grounds of discrimination covered by European Union (EU) law – gender, race and ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability.

Since the implementation of the Racial Equality Directive (2000/43/EC) and the Gender Equal Treatment Directives (the 2010/41 on self-employed persons, the 2006/54 Recast directive, and the 2004/113 Goods and services directive), a wide variety of practices concerning equality bodies exist across the EU Member States. While six grounds of discrimination are protected in EU law, so far, European anti-discrimination law only requires that equality bodies are set up on the grounds of race and ethnic origin and gender. However, many countries went beyond these EU requirements and have bodies that deal with other grounds of discrimination as well.

Equality bodies also cover different fields of discrimination, from employment, through education and healthcare to the provision of goods and services. While many Equinet members deal with discrimination in all fields of life, some are only mandated to deal with one or a few fields. This part of the Online Directory provides information on which fields of life equality bodies cover.

Similarly, while most Equinet members are mandated to work on equality and non-discrimination in both the public and the private sector, some of them only cover one of these sectors.

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Accountability

The systems of accountability that are in place in each country should reflect and ensure the independence and effectiveness of equality bodies.

Different systems of accountability may include reporting to:

  • Parliament, Head of State or National Ministry in presenting and debating strategic plans, annual business plans and annual reports;
  • Relevant auditing authorities in presenting and justifying annual accounts.
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Overview

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Welcome to the European Directory of Equality Bodies!

Welcome to the European Directory dedicated to Equinet’s member equality bodies. Here you can find detailed profiles of each of our members, as well as comparative sections which look at their mandates, functions and accountability.

How does it work?

Click on a tab above or follow the links to go directly to each section.

Equinet Members: The individual profiles of our members offer some background history of each equality body, as well as comparative information regarding its mandates, functions, structure and other statistics.

Mandates: Have a look at the grounds and fields of discrimination that our members cover, as well as other mandates and the scope of their work.

Functions: Find out more about the type of functions our member equality bodies carry out, what activities they do and what litigation powers they have.

Accountability: Different systems of accountability that reflect and ensure the independence and effectiveness of equality bodies exist amongst our members. Find out more under the section on accountability.

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Functions

Equality bodies are required to provide independent assistance to victims of discrimination. This assistance can involve a range of activities including :

  • providing information about the existence of anti-discrimination laws and about the possibility to take legal action to seek remedy or compensation for an act of discrimination;
  • providing information about the existence of anti-discrimination laws and about the possibility to take legal action to seek remedy or compensation for an act of discrimination;
  • helping people who experience discrimination to come to an amicable settlement/mutual agreement (mediation) with the alleged perpetrators;
  • giving legal advice and representing in front of the courts people who have been discriminated;
  • acting as amicus curiae or third-party intervener
  • Investigating and hearing discrimination complaints as a quasi-judicial body and deciding on the merits of the case, either with a legally binding or a legally non-binding decision.
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Type

Three different types of equality bodies are referred to by Equinet and others: tribunal type equality bodies, promotion type equality bodies and combined tribunal-type and promotion-type equality bodies.

Predominantly tribunal type equality bodies spend the bulk of their time and resources on hearing, investigating and deciding on individual instances of discrimination brought before them. Some can and do take on certain promotional functions alongside these activities.

Predominantly promotion type equality bodies spend the bulk of their time and resources on supporting good practices, raising awareness of rights, developing a knowledge base on equality and providing legal advice and assistance to victims of discrimination.

A third type of equality body can be identified as a combination of tribunal-type and promotion-type bodies. They hear, investigate and decide on cases of discrimination, but also implement a range of activities to raise awareness, support good practice and conduct research.