Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
The European Commission also considers that Equality bodies play a key role in the implementation of the equal treatment directives, in the fight against discrimination and in providing assistance to victims of discrimination.
Directives 2000/43/EC on racial equality, 2004/113/EC on gender equality in the access to and supply of goods and services and 2006/54/EC on gender equality in employment and occupation require Member States to ‘designate and make the necessary arrangements for a body or bodies for the promotion, analysis, monitoring and support of equal treatment of all persons without discrimination’(1).
According to the directives, equality bodies have to cover, as a minimum, the grounds of racial or ethnical origin as well as sex(2) and to carry out at least the following specific tasks: (i) providing independent assistance to victims of discrimination in pursuing the complaints of discrimination; (ii) conducting independent surveys concerning discrimination; and (iii) publishing independent reports and making recommendations on any issue related to such discrimination(3).
Full implementation of these provisions requires Member States to ensure that the bodies they designate as Equality bodies are able to carry out the tasks given to them in the directives independently and effectively.
The Commission monitors the correct implementation of EU anti-discrimination directives, and takes appropriate action, including initiation of infringement proceedings before the Court of Justice, in cases in which Member States do not comply with EU obligations.
EU does not require Equality bodies to cover religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation in employment and occupation. In its ‘Article 19 Proposal’ the Commission proposes to require Equality Bodies to deal with those discrimination grounds outside the labour market as well.
Article 20 of the directive 2006/54/EC adds the following competence: ‘at the appropriate level exchanging available information with corresponding European bodies such as any future European Institute for Gender Equality’.