Since 1 January 2011 the Directorate-General for Justice of the European Commission is responsible for the coordination and promotion of anti-discrimination policy developments in all areas where the EU has competence and on all grounds of discrimination. This includes for instance the promotion of awareness of gender equality and non-discrimination, as well as the coordination of policy developments regarding the social and economic inclusion of the Roma.
DG Justice is divided into four Directorates, with the Directorate on Equality being divided into four Units: Equal treatment legislation; Gender equality; Rights of persons with disabilities; and Non-discrimination policies and Roma coordination.
As legislator of the EU, the Parliament is involved in the work on equality and non-discrimination in different ways, in particular through its committees on Women’s rights and gender equality (FEMM); Civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE) and Employment and social affairs (EMPL). Each committee is composed of a certain number of Members of the Parliament and is responsible for the preparatory work for the plenary sessions, adopting legislative proposals and own-initiative reports.
There are also several informal “intergroups” working on different areas linked to equality and non-discrimination, for instance Disability; Traditional minorities; LGBT rights; Anti-racism and diversity; Youth issues and Ageing and intergenerational solidarity.
The FRA is an advisory body of the European Union established in 2007 and based in Vienna, Austria. Its mission is to help to ensure that fundamental rights of people living in the EU are protected, by collecting evidence about the situation of fundamental rights across the European Union and providing advice, based on evidence, about how to improve the situation. The FRA also informs people about their fundamental rights.
The Agency focuses on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU and its 28 Member States. Candidate countries and countries which have concluded a stabilisation and association agreement with the EU can be invited to participate following a special procedure.
EIGE is a European agency which supports the EU and its Member States in their efforts to promote gender equality, to fight discrimination based on sex and to raise awareness about gender equality issues.
Its tasks are to collect and analyse comparable data on gender issues, to develop methodological tools, in particular for the integration of the gender dimension in all policy areas, to facilitate the exchange of best practices and dialogue among stakeholders, and to raise awareness among EU citizens.
The mission of the European Court of Justice is to ensure that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties. This includes EU legislation on equality and non-discrimination, and the case law of the Court can therefore have an important impact on the development of this legislation on the European as well as national level.
The European Ombudsman is an independent and impartial administrative body with a mission to hold the EU administration accountable for its actions. The Ombudsman receives and investigates complaints of maladministration in EU institutions and bodies, such as lack of respect for fundamental rights, legal rules or principles, or the principles of good administration, including discrimination. Complaints can be lodged by citizens or residents of the EU, as well as businesses, associations or other bodies with a registered office in the EU. The Ombudsman is part of the European Network of Ombudsmen, which brings together national and regional ombudsmen in the Member States of the EU as well as similar bodies.
The Commissioner for human rights is an independent, non-judicial institution of the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of, and respect for, human rights in the 47 member States. Focusing on encouraging reform measures to achieve tangible improvement in the area of human rights promotion and protection, the Commissioner can draw conclusions and take initiatives regarding human rights violations. Nils Muižnieks is Commissioner for Human Rights since April 2012, and sets as his priority to protect and promote the human rights of vulnerable groups of people such as children and elderly, persons with disabilities, women and minorities.
ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, citizenship, colour, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance. ECRI also prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.
The European Court of Human Rights is an international court set up in 1959. It rules on individual or State applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1998 it has sat as a full-time court and individuals can apply to it directly.
In almost fifty years the Court has delivered more than 10,000 judgments. These are binding on the countries concerned and have led governments to alter their legislation and administrative practice in a wide range of areas. The Court’s case-law makes the Convention a powerful living instrument for meeting new challenges and consolidating the rule of law and democracy in Europe.
The regional office for Europe represents the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as the principal UN official in charge of the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe. The regional office seeks to integrate the UN’s human rights standards and perspective into EU-wide policies, legislation and implementation measures, helping to address human rights challenges in Europe, as well as in external EU policies and activities.
In several European countries apart from national equality bodies there are also National human rights institutions dealing with human rights issues, often including in one way or another equality and non-discrimination. On a European level they are regrouped in the European Group of NHRIs, which is currently chaired by the Scottish Human Rights Commission.