Welcome to the second edition of the Equinet Newsbook, the revamped newsletter from Equinet - the European Network of Equality Bodies
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= Front-page

Equinet welcomes three new members and its new Executive Board

The Equinet Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on the 28th of November 2013 in Brussels and gathered representatives of equality bodies from across Europe to reflect on Equinet’s work over the past year and to discuss and take decisions for the future of the network.

Following unanimous ratification of new membership applications, Equinet is pleased to welcome three new members raising Equinet’s membership to 41 national equality bodies (NEBs) from across Europe:
Ombudsperson for Gender Equality (Croatia)
National Equality Councillor (Italy)
National Commission for Persons with Disability (Malta)

During the AGM elections were held for the new Equinet Executive Board (2013 - 2015). Following the election results, the Board is composed of the following members:

Evelyn COLLINS (Chair)
Chief Executive
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland

Deputy Director of the Constitutional and International Law Department
Human Rights Defender, Poland

Michiel BONTE
Head of Service - Discrimination Department
Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, Belgium

Member of the Steering Board
National Council for Combating Discrimination, Romania

Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment, Portugal

Mari-Liis SEPPER
Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner, Estonia

Coordinator for the Area of Non-discrimination
Office of the Ombudsman, Croatia

Therese SPITERI (Treasurer)
National Commission for the Promotion of Equality, Malta

Advisor to the Defender on European and International Affairs
Defender of Rights, France

High-level representatives of European Institutions also contributed to the AGM by presenting updates and sharing their views with equality bodies on current EU perspectives for non-discrimination. Equinet had the pleasure to welcome Mr. Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea (Director for Equality, Directorate General Justice, European Commission) and Mr. Raül Romeva I Rueda (Member of the European Parliament), who shared their input and concerns on important developments in the field of equality at European level.
EC infringement procedure against Finland due to equality body inadequacies highlights crucial role of equality bodies in EU anti-discrimination framework
Equinet sees the case described below as an important precedent showing that the European Commission is strict and serious about the full and correct implementation of the Directive provisions relating to equality bodies. Equinet also hopes this will give a message to all Member States about the importance of well-functioning equality bodies.

According to the European Commission, "a reasoned opinion has been issued to Finland in the second stage of infringement proceedings concerning inadequacies relating to the country’s national race equality body, which all Member States are required to set up under EU equality law (Directive 2000/43/EC). EU anti-discrimination rules make it obligatory for Member States to establish a national equality body tasked with providing independent assistance in pursuing complaints to victims of discrimination, as well as monitoring and reporting on discrimination. National equality bodies are crucial, in particular for the proper enforcement of the Directive and to ensure protection for victims of discrimination. It is essential that the national equality bodies actually carry out all the tasks required by the Directive. Finnish law currently fails to designate any equality body responsible for addressing cases of racial or ethnic discrimination in employment. The Commission is therefore calling on Finland to bring its rules in line with EU requirements to ensure victims of discrimination can receive proper assistance."

The equality body in question, the
Finnish Ombudsman for Minorities, hopes that the ongoing reform process of the Non-discrimination Act will remedy the situation and allow the equality body to fully investigate discrimination cases also in the field of employment.

Upcoming European Parliament report on a future EU LGBT equality roadmap highlights the importance of equality bodies

On 5 November the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) started working on a new strategy against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The report calls on the European Commission and Member States "to support and promote training and capacity building for national equality bodies, national human rights institutions and other organisations tasked with the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons". It also calls on Member States "to support equality bodies when informing LGBTI persons, as well as trade unions and employer organisations, about their rights" and "to ensure equality bodies are informed and trained about the rights and specific issues pertaining to transgender and intersex people"

= Our work

Highlights from Equinet's Work Plan 2014

On the occasion of its Annual General Meeting Equinet has the pleasure to inform its followers of the main areas of work, events and activities it plans for next year

Focus of our Working Groups

  • Equality Law in Practice: positive actions
  • Communication Strategies and Practices: media library of equality bodies’ campaigns and initiatives
  • Strategy Development: strategic planning
  • Policy Formation: institutional architecture of equality bodies and religion and belief
  • Gender Equality: goods and services and harassment and sexual harassment

Events open to the public

  • Legal seminar on anti-discrimination legislation and jurisprudence
  • Gender seminar on access to goods and services

Other activities

  • Paper on the contribution of equality bodies to the EU2020 Strategy
  • Good practice guide on equality bodies’ recommendations to policy-makers
  • Online Directory of European Equality Bodies
  • information kit on equality bodies for MEPs
  • Ad-hoc initiative on violence against women

= Snippets

  • European Commission (EC) Consultation on the future justice policy of the European Union (DL 31/12/13)
  • EC Consultation on the future agenda for Home Affairs policies (DL 12/01/14)
  • EC Call for proposals - Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Action grants (DL 12/03/214)
  • European Commission closes infringement procedure against Hungary on forced retirement of Hungarian judges
  • European Parliament backs Commission's Women on Boards proposal
  • EP adopts resolution through which Major EU fund for employment and social inclusion will combat discrimination
  • EP launches study on Member States' Policies for Children with Disabilities
  • Court of Justice of the European Union delivers judgment: "Homosexual applicants for asylum can constitute a particular social group who may be persecuted on account of their sexual orientation"
  • European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivers judgment in the case of Vallianatos and Others v. Greece: "Reasons for excluding same-sex couples from 'civil unions' under Greek law were not convincing"
  • ECHR in case E.B. and Others v. Austria decides that the State’s refusal to delete applicants’ convictions from their criminal records amounted to discrimination
  • ECHR in case Pichkur v. Ukraine confirms that place of residence is a ground of discrimination
  • European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) launches fundamental rights-based police training manual (more details here)
  • FRA launches report on "Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of antisemitism" (more details here)
  • FRA launched the conclusions of its Combating hate crime in the EU conference (more details here)
  • The Faculty of Laws at the University College London has recently launched a publication entitled "BRIDGING THE DIVIDE? Integrating the Functions of National Equality Bodies and National Human Rights Institutions in the European Union" (report and executive summary)
  • ALTERNATIVE: Restorative approaches to conflicts in intercultural settings

The ALTERNATIVE action research project, funded by the EU FP7 programme, aims to offer an alternative vision on how to deal with conflicts within intercultural contexts through restorative justice approaches.

Besides theoretical work, the project has four core case studies: (1) everyday conflicts between local residents and residents with migrant background in municipality housing in Austria; (2) conflicts in a village with Roma and non-Roma inhabitants in Hungary; (3) interethnic conflicts within three multi-ethnic and multicultural regions in Serbia; (4) and conflicts between a local community and youth gangs; between long term residents and recent immigrants; and inter-community sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
  • European Women's Lobby launches Women’s Watch 2012-2013, a feminist overview of women’s rights and gender equality in 30 European countries
  • Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring project reveals 238 killings of trans people in the last 12 months
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