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There have been a range of important events taking place at in Brussels over the past few weeks, focusing on democracy in the EU, being black in Europe, legal developments at EU level and tackling discrimination against Muslims in the EU. Equinet was there, representing the expert voice of equality bodies to advance equality in Europe.

 

On 1 October 2018, the International Day of Older Persons, a 70 day-campaign on Ageing was launched by AGE Platform Europe together with the support of partner organisations. Equinet contributed to the campaign by writing an article authored by Tamás Kádár, our Head of Legal and Policy team, focusing on intergenerational solidarity and how ageism is experienced by both young and old people.

 

Equinet and member equality bodies participated in the Fundamental Rights Agency’s bi-annual Fundamental Rights Forum (FRF) in Vienna from 25-27 September 2018. The FRF is a unique space for dialogue on the pressing human rights challenges in the EU, and offers an opportunity to engage in new conversations and shape critical human rights agendas.

 

The OSCE high-level conference took place in Rome on 22 October and was an opportunity to discuss good practices related to addressing racism, xenophobia, gender, anti-Semitism and intolerance against Muslims, Christians and members of other religions, as well as challenges related to discriminatory practices, which continue to be a concern across the OSCE region.

Tena Šimonović Einwalter, Equinet Chair, represented the Network on panel discussing ""Intolerance and discrimination, with a focus on discrimination based on religion or belief".

 

The Commission Action Plan to tackle the gender pay gap in 2018-2019 adopted on 20 November 2017 announced that the Commission would assess the possibility of strengthening the enforcement role of equality bodies, for instance by clarifying the requirements under the gender Recast Directive and/or setting horizontal standards for equality bodies. The initiative also follows-up on the European Pillar of Social Rights notably its principles two, three and seventeen on gender equality, equal opportunities and inclusion of people with disabilities. More broadly, this initiative will support the Commission 2017 Communication on ’EU law: better results through better application’ and the 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard by strengthening equality bodies, considering the key role that equality bodies play in a comprehensive implementation and enforcement of EU equality legislation.

 

 

Equality Bodies

On 5 December 2018, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) published the results of a survey on inadmissible questions at job interviews. The survey investigates the extent to which applicants are sensitised to the inadmissibility of questions regarding the characteristics protected under the General Act on Equal Treatment in job interviews, and whether they had ever faced such questions in the past. In addition, attitudes towards anonymised job application procedures were surveyed.

 

On the occasion of the Equinet board meeting in Vienna, the Austrian Ombud for Equal Treatment is hosting a side-event in the House of the European Union to discuss the links between the UN-Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and equality bodies.

 

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign starting on 25 November, the International Day to End Violence against Women. The members of the Gender Equality Working Group and the Project on Violence Against Women discussed ways in which Equinet could be involved in this initative. The members decided to launch a social media campaign that will highlight good practices from different equality bodies on ways to tackle violence against women.

 

As the UK’s departure from the European Union approaches, the British Government is preparing to take on the new responsibility of trade negotiations. The Trade Bill currently passing through the British Parliament is laying the groundwork for this. Civil society has called for the inclusion of Human Rights and Democracy clauses that are at least equal to the EU’s standards, and others emphasise that this is also an opportunity to introduce higher standards.

 

On 29th October 2018, the Albanian Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination organized the Third Regional Conference of Equality Bodies, by topic “Independence of Equality Bodies”, at the Palace of Brigades, in Tirana, Albania. The Conference was partly financially supported by the OSCE.

 

 

Europe

25 November 2018 was the International Day to End Violence against Women. Ahead of this day, numerous statements, initiatives and campaigns were launched by European institutions and organistions as well as civil society organisations. To emphasize the work of equality bodies on this particular topic, Equinet launched a social media campaign which will be ungoing during the international ’’16 Days of Activism’’ campaign, starting on 25 November. Different posts will highlight good practices on combating violence against women from various equality bodies. Find more information about the Equinet campaign here.

 

In 2018, the European Commission will be marking the European Equal Pay Day again on 3 November. The European Commission marks this day to draw attention to the gender pay gap, and its underlying causes, including the ones linked to work-life balance.

On 26 October 2018, to highlight the importance of the Equal Pay day, the European Commission launched useful data, and a statement made by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.

 

The European Parliament is concerned by the increasing normalisation of fascism, racism and xenophobia and calls on EU member states to ban neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups.

In a resolution passed with 355 votes to 90 and 39 abstentions, MEPs denounce that the lack of serious action against these groups has enabled the current xenophobic surge in Europe.

 

On 2 October 2018, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) presented two new monitoring reports on the Republic of Moldova and Portugal. In both reports, ECRI analyse recent developments and outstanding issues and provide recommendations to the respective authorities.

 

Equinet attended the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), in Warsaw, Poland.