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Standards for equality bodies: Council agrees its positions

EU employment and social affairs ministers have agreed their position on two proposals that will strengthen the independence and functioning of equality bodies in the EU, helping to prevent discrimination and better protect victims.

Equality bodies play a vital role in protecting EU citizens from discrimination. The two general approaches agreed today by the Council are important to ensure that national equality bodies have the powers, resources and independence to effectively fight discrimination.

Currently, all EU member states are required to set up national bodies to combat discrimination on grounds such as racial or ethnic origin and gender, yet the mandate and competences of these bodies vary from one member state to another.

The new rules will establish common EU-wide minimum requirements for equality bodies in a number of key areas. These include:

  • enhanced competences for equality bodies to combat discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in the area of employment, and discrimination based on gender in the area of social security

  • a legal requirement for equality bodies to be independent

  • sufficient human, technical and financial resources

  • a requirement for public institutions to consult equality bodies on matters related to discrimination and equal treatment

  • increased powers to conduct inquiries and dispute resolution in discrimination cases

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