Strengthening equality bodies throughout the EU

Briefing 07-12-2022

This briefing provides a pre-legislative synthesis of the positions of national, regional and local governmental organisations on the European Commission's initiative on equality bodies, which have been established in every EU Member State to tackle discrimination. It forms part of an EPRS series offering a summary of the pre-legislative state of play and advance consultation on a range of key European Commission priorities during its 5-year term. It seeks to present the state of affairs, to examine how existing policy is working on the ground, and identify best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of the EU system of multilevel governance. The EPRS analysis found that the position of the partner organisations at EU, national, regional and local levels is that a number of considerations should be reflected in discussions concerning the Commission's initiative, in order to strengthen the role and independence of equality bodies. In most cases, the local and regional presence of equality bodies helps raise awareness of the realities of discrimination on the ground and promotes outreach to vulnerable communities and to citizens in rural or isolated areas. Among the EPRS survey respondents, only a few small and medium-sized Member States argued that regional and local offices were not needed. This local and regional presence is operationalised in different ways: most of the EU equality bodies surveyed cooperate with governmental and non-governmental organisations. Equality bodies in 10 Member States have their own regional or local representation, which they consider essential, while in at least four EU Member States, regions or municipalities have instead set up sub-national equality bodies. There does not seem to be any correlation between awareness among the population of the national racial equality body and the direct presence of regional and local offices. There is a broad consensus among partner organisations throughout the EU that, for equality bodies to be fully effective, it is essential to devote resources to their representation.