- More powers, resources and independence for national equality bodies
- Support to be offered free of charge to those who have experienced discrimination
- Powers to investigate a complaint
Parliament adopted its mandate for negotiations with Council on new rules to boost equality bodies, ahead of the first round of talks at the end of November.
The mandate, prepared by the Women’s Rights and Employment committees, would mean that national equality bodies - public institutions that protect and provide assistance to those who experience discrimination - would be fully independent from external influence in performing their tasks, deciding on their objectives and actions, and in particular as regards their legal structure, accountability, budget, staffing, communication and organisation.
Sufficient resources needed to work effectively
A lack of adequate and stable human, material, technical and financial resources are, MEPs say, hampering the ability of equality bodies to work effectively. Therefore, member states should ensure that these bodies receive adequate funding, can hire the necessary amount of qualified staff, and have appropriate premises and infrastructure to carry out their tasks effectively. Equality bodies should also be able to manage their finances independently.
Support to those who have experienced discrimination
Member states would have to ensure that equality bodies are able to provide assistance to people who have experienced discrimination free of charge. Equality bodies would have the powers to investigate, following a complaint or on their own initiative, a possible breach of equal treatment.
Lead MEP for the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, Finland) said: "Parliament has adopted a very strong mandate to give national equality bodies robust tools to combat discrimination in each of the EU member states. The EU needs effective anti-discrimination tools to genuinely implement our improved anti-discrimination legislation. Now, it is important to start the negotiations with the Council as soon as possible to reach an agreement on this important directive without further delay."
Lead MEP for the Employment and Social Affairs Committee Marc Angel (S&D, Luxembourg) said: "Equality bodies are crucial in fighting discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere. We must support them by ensuring their independence and autonomy to preserve their nature as independent bodies, but also by guaranteeing their right to act in court. Access to equality bodies will now be available to all those that have experienced discrimination. Today's strong mandate ensures that we can start negotiations with the Council without further delay.”
Parliament will start negotiations with Council at the end of November. Member states already agreed on their position.