Equality bodies are independent public institutions established across Europe to promote equality for all and combat discrimination. They protect and assist victims of discrimination, monitor and report on discrimination issues, and play a fundamental role in the non-discrimination architecture of the EU. Three equality directives have entrusted these bodies with carrying out the same missions in their respective fields: good and services, employment, and self-employment. These directives make no mention of the structure and functioning of equality bodies and only establish minimum competences, which can lead to substantial differences between Member States. In December 2022, the Commission adopted two proposals to strengthen equality bodies' independence, resources, and powers.
In the opinion, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC):
- welcomes the initiative to give equality bodies the role of advocates for the rights of victims of discrimination and emphasises the importance of striking the right balance between the principle of subsidiarity and setting out standards to increase the strength and effectiveness of these bodies.
- requests that policies at both national and EU levels take into account intersectionality and multiple forms of discrimination, and welcomes the clarification that accessibility for all also requires attention to the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities.
- recommends the development of information campaigns on EU rights and respect for diversity. These campaigns can be carried out at the local level by national equality bodies, with special attention given to vulnerable groups, children, and young people in school. It would help to raise awareness of discrimination and promote inclusion.
Section: Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC)
Opinion type: Mandatory
Date of the section meeting: 8 March 2023
Results of the section meeting vote: 68 in favour, 1 against, 3 abstentions
Date of adoption at the EESC plenary session: 22-23 March 2023
Results of the plenary session vote: 164 in favour, 1 against, 2 abstentions
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