Strengthening the role of equality bodies across the EU: Council adopts two directives

The Council formally adopted two directives to strengthen the role of equality bodies across the EU.

Equality bodies were established to promote equal treatment, combat discrimination and offer assistance to victims. The new rules adopted today will improve the effectiveness of these bodies and guarantee their independence. The directives establish common EU-wide minimum requirements for equality bodies in a number of key areas, including:

  • enhanced competences for equality bodies to combat discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation in the area of employment, and discrimination based on sex in the area of social security
  • a legal requirement for equality bodies to be independent from external influence
  • a legal requirement to provide equality bodies with sufficient human, technical and financial resources
  • a requirement for public institutions to consult equality bodies on matters related to discrimination, and for equality bodies to be empowered to carry out activities to prevent discrimination and promote equal treatment, for example, by promoting positive action and equality mainstreaming
  • increased powers to conduct inquiries and engage in dispute resolution in discrimination cases, in line with national law and practice

Next steps

The directives will now be signed and will enter into force following publication in the EU’s Official Journal. Member states will have two years to adapt their national legislation to the provisions of the directives.