Equinet promotes equality in Europe through supporting and enabling the work of national equality bodies. It supports equality bodies to be independent and effective as valuable catalysts for more equal societies. 

Equinet Newsbook

June 2015

Equinet News

Strategic Objective 2: Contributing to the European 
Equality Agenda

Gender Equality

Equinet has published a Perspective, The Persistence of Discrimination, Harassment and Inequality for Women, that gathers the learning from the work of equality bodies across Europe so as to inform the preparation and content of the European Commission's new approach to gender equality.

Gender Goods and Services Directive

Following consultation with Equinet, member equality bodies and other stakeholders, the European Commission’s report on the implementation of the ‘Gender Goods and Services Directive’ (Directive 2004/113/EC) highlights the important role of equality bodies in implementing the Directive. Read more here

Horizontal Directive

The blockage of the Horizontal Directive within the European Council, most notably by Germany, has recently been highlighted by the Equinet Secretariat, Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency - FADA (Germany) and the Social Platform.   

European Commission

  • DG Justice and Consumers has published a thematic report ‘Combating Sexual Orientation Discrimination in EU’ giving a detailed view on the existing application of the Employment Equality Directive (2000/78) to the ground of sexual orientation,  including a subchapter dedicated to the role of equality bodies.
  • The Better Regulation Agenda, a new package of reforms for EU decision-making has just been published. The Agenda includes a renewed Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) to review existing and proposed legislation. In the field of Justice, the REFIT also evaluates Directives that are relevant to the issue of gender equality: the 1979 directive on Equal Treatment in Social Services but also the proposals for directives on Women on company boards and Maternity Leave. 

European Parliament

  • MEPs this week adopted the initiative report prepared by Rapporteur Maria Noichl (S&D, DE) on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015. According to ILGA Europe, "the European Parliament has spoken in favour of a strong, ambitious gender equality strategy 2016-2020 and the European Commission must now take up the baton on this issue". 
  • A resolution has been adopted that urges Member States to restart negotiations on the Maternity Leave Directive. The Parliament also requests that the European Commission propose new legislation in the case of withdrawal of the proposal. 
  • A resolution has been adopted on the List of issues that was prepared by the United Nations after reviewing the EU implementation of the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities.
  • The Committee of Employment and Social Affairs issued a draft report  on the implementation of the commitments made during 2012 European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.

Council of Europe

  • The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has published monitoring reports on AlbaniaHungary and Poland, analysing recent developments and outstanding issues, as well as providing recommendations to the authorities. Conclusions have also been published about the implementation of priority recommendations in Andorra, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden and the Ukraine
  • The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) has identified that corporal punishment of children is not sufficiently protected under legislation or case-law in Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Ireland. These countries are in breach of the European Social Charter. Read more here.

Fundamental Rights Agency

  • Focus paper has been published showing an overview of implementation reforms that took place in the Member States after ratifying the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • report that looks at criminal labour exploitation of workers moving within or to the EU has been published. The report includes recommendations to the Members States and to the EU institutions on how to protect the rights of migrant workers and how to tackle labour exploitation.


Congratulations to Ireland on passing the recent marriage equality referendum by 62%. According to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, this change to the Irish constitution is a matter of equality and human rights. Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, aims to have the Marriage Bill 2015 enacted by the end of July. This Bill will set out the provisions which will give effect to the right to be inserted into the Constitution as the 34th amendment which will enable two persons to marry in accordance with law without distinction as to their sex.


Read previous Newsletters here.

Funding Opportunity


European Ombudsman

Emily O’Reilly has given proposals to the European Commission to help it ensure that the budget for the European Social Funds is only spent on cohesion projects in Member States that respect fundamental rights. According to the European Ombudsman, the Commission should monitor the implementation of cohesion projects with visits to the Member States, launch the online platform through which civil society could report the violations of the funds and the EU Charter of the Fundamental Rights, organize capacity building trainings in Member States with lower record of fund investment in fundamental rights, and apply sanctions to States that are not fulfilling their obligations.

European Commission

DG Justice and Consumers has published its 2014 Report on the Implication of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU that gives an overview of the application of the Charter by and to the EU institutions and Member States. The report identifies the rise in number of EU courts rulings that were referring to the Charter and it includes the focus section on fundamental rights in digital age.


European Court of Human Rights

Identoba and others v. Georgia (12.05.2015, application no. 73235/12):
Police failed to protect participants in a march against homophobia from violent attacks of counter-demonstrators.


European Court of Justice

Case C-579/13 - Area of Freedom, Security and Justice: Member States may require third-country nationals with long-term resident status to pass a civic integration examination.
Case C-299/14 - Social security for migrant workers: According to Advocate General Wathelet, EU citizens who move to a Member State of which they are not nationals may be excluded from entitlement to certain social benefits during the first three months. 

Belfast County Court

Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd - The Gay Cake case: The Equality Commission of Northern Ireland welcomed the judgement that found the Defendants -  the Company and Colin and Karen McArthur -  had unlawfully discriminated against Gareth Lee on grounds of sexual orientation, religious belief and political opinion. Gareth Lee had taken the case with the assistance of the Equality Commission following the cancellation by the bakery company of an order it had initially accepted, to provide him with a cake iced with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. 
The European Trade Union Confederation has published a survey that monitors the proportion of women in the European trade union movement, including in decision-making positions. The objective is to assess progress in reducing the representation and decision-making gap between women and men in trade unions. 
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