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= Front-page

Potential impact on equality bodies of new EU freedom of movement Directive  

In mid-April the EU's Council of Ministers adopted a new Directive (available here: http://goo.gl/oZs3AN) to ensure the better application at national level of EU citizens' right to work in another Member State. Equinet followed closely the legislative process and discussed the issue at its High-Level Legal Seminar earlier this year (see here http://goo.gl/CbXRZD).

Article 4 of the Directive is particularly noteworthy as it introduces a requirement for all Member States to set up specific structures for safeguarding freedom of movement with competences similar to those of equality bodies. The text stipulates that "each Member State shall designate one or more structures or bodies for the promotion, analysis, monitoring and support of equal treatment of Union workers and members of their family without discrimination on grounds of nationality, unjustified restrictions or obstacles to their right to free movement and shall make the necessary arrangements for the proper functioning of such bodies. Those bodies may form part of existing bodies at national level which have similar objectives".

The recitals underline the importance of effectiveness of the bodies by stating that "should a Member State decide to expand the mandate of an existing body, it should ensure allocation of sufficient resources to the existing body for the effective and adequate performance of its existing and additional tasks".

Equinet welcomes registrations from member equality bodies for its training event on LGBTI issues 

On 17-18 June 2014 in Stockholm, Equinet, with the support and hosting of the Swedish Equality Ombudsman, is organising a training event on LGBTI issues.

Equinet’s perspective on LGBTI people as well as other sources (such as the work of FRA) show that LGBTI people suffer serious discrimination in daily life. Equality bodies can be key actors of change in improving their situation. This Equinet training event will strive to provide equality body staff members with a space for peer learning and for discussing key challenges as well as good practices in the field.

Registrations are accepted only from staff members of Equinet member organisations. For more information please visit the event's webpage.

= Our work

Joint responsibility for equal treatment: how equality bodies work with duty bearers
 
EU anti-discrimination directives empower national equality bodies not just to assist victims of discrimination but also to conduct surveys concerning discrimination and to publish reports and make recommendations on any issue relating to discrimination. Although there is a range of possibilities and realities on how Member States transpose the directives, it appears that a clear objective of the legislators was that equality bodies should not just combat discrimination but also promote (full) equality within society. Traditional measures and tools such as legal support have a limited capacity to ensure the effective promotion of equality and to bring about positive changes in the culture of society. If they are to live up to this challenge, national equality bodies and other actors will have to take proactive steps.

Focusing on and engaging with duty bearers represents such a proactive approach for national equality bodies, going beyond direct assistance to victims of discrimination. As the Equinet Working Group on Strategy Development has already dealt with civil society and “rights groups” in 2010, members intended to focus now very clearly on “responsibility groups”.

To download, order, and read more about the report, visit our website.
Looking back at Equinet’s work in 2013
 
Equinet has released its 2013 Annual Report, highlighting the increased focus on gender in the work of the network, and its contribution to the European Commission's Review of the Anti-Discrimination Directives.

The report also contains information about achievements and progress made to strengthen policy exchanges with EU institutions and other stakeholders, and to effectively support the work of national equality bodies. Finally, sections on governance, finances, and contact details for each member equality body provide readers with useful information on Equinet’s work.

To download, order, and read more about the report click here.
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Key insights from Equinet's seminar on gender equality in the access to and supply of goods and services are now online

On 24 April 2014, Equinet organised a seminar in Brussels bringing together representatives of equality bodies, national and European stakeholders and experts, for an open and constructive dialogue on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services.

The contributions, available on the webpage of the event (http://goo.gl/hI7Qj3) included a presentation of the upcoming Equinet report on Equality bodies working on gender equality in goods and services, as well as a presentation on Gender discrimination in goods and sevices: Directive 2004/113/EC from Prof Aileen McColgan (King’s College London) and one on Insurance services and gender equality from Yves Thiery, (Leuven University).

See also: coverage of the event by the European Women's Lobby (http://goo.gl/Y4Qc7h) which contributed to the agenda and discussions through its Acting Coordinator Pierrette Pape.

= Snippets

  • The EC launched its Report on Progress on Equality Between Women and Men in 2013 (http://goo.gl/P55cDp). The report states that "there has been progress in most areas, but achieved at an uneven pace. At this rate of change, it will take almost 30 years to reach the EU’s target of 75% of women in employment, over 70 years to make equal pay a reality, over 20 years to achieve parity in national parliaments (at least 40% of each gender), over 20 years to achieve gender balance on the boards of Europe’s biggest companies and almost 40 years to ensure that housework is equally shared. In other words, if nothing changes, many of us won’t live long enough to see equality between women and men achieved".
  • The European Commission (EC) launched a targeted call of expression of interest to participate in the EU Civil Society e-Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings (http://goo.gl/CfOp8O)
  • The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the Dhahbi v. Italy case the European Court of Human Rights held, establishing a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention, that Mr Dhahbi had been treated differently from EU workers as he had not been entitled to a family allowance for the simple reason that he had not been a national of an EU Member State. Therefore, owing to a personal characteristic, namely his nationality, he had received worse treatment than other individuals in a similar situation. The Court reiterated that only very weighty considerations could induce it to regard a difference in treatment exclusively based on nationality as compatible with the Convention.
     
    Furthermore, the European Court of Human Rights held unanimously that, under Article 6(1) (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention, national courts whose decisions were not open to appeal under domestic law were required to give reasons for their refusal to refer a preliminary question on the interpretation of EU law to the Court of Justice of the EU. (
    http://goo.gl/gDUh3M)
  • The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published a report on "The right to political participation of persons with disabilities". According to FRA  "the human rights indicators presented in the report show that legal and administrative barriers, inaccessible processes and information, and a lack of awareness about political rights can deny persons with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the political lives of their communities. The research also reveals the absence of reliable and comparable data about persons with disabilities’ experiences of taking part in elections in the EU". (http://goo.gl/pvKh8H)
  • The Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE) published its report on the "State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe", warning that the three "now face a crisis unprecedented since the end of the Cold War." (http://goo.gl/gXTD6X)
  • The CoE Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) will enter into force this summer as 10 CoE Member States ratified it (http://goo.gl/JBveUP)
  • The Equal Rights Trust published Volume Twelve of The Equal Rights Review (ERR), an interdisciplinary biannual journal intended as a forum for the exchange of legal, philosophical, sociological and other ideas and practical insights for those who are promoting equality (http://goo.gl/ahm6xA).
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