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EC infringement procedure against Finland due to equality body inadequacies

November 26th 2013


According to the European Commission, "a reasoned opinion has been issued to Finland in the second stage of infringement proceedings concerning inadequacies relating to the country’s national race equality body, which all Member States are required to set up under EU equality law (Directive 2000/43/EC). EU anti-discrimination rules make it obligatory for Member States to establish a national equality body tasked with providing independent assistance in pursuing complaints to victims of discrimination, as well as monitoring and reporting on discrimination. National equality bodies are crucial, in particular for the proper enforcement of the Directive and to ensure protection for victims of discrimination. It is essential that the national equality bodies actually carry out all the tasks required by the Directive. Finnish law currently fails to designate any equality body responsible for addressing cases of racial or ethnic discrimination in employment. The Commission is therefore calling on Finland to bring its rules in line with EU requirements to ensure victims of discrimination can receive proper assistance."

The equality body in question, the Ombudsman for Minorities, hopes that the ongoing reform process of the Non-discrimination Act will remedy the situation and allow the equality body to fully investigate discrimination cases also in the field of employment.

Equinet sees this as an important precedent showing that the European Commission is strict and serious about the full and correct implementation of the Directive provisions relating to equality bodies. Equinet also hopes this will give a message to all Member States about the importance of well-functioning equality bodies.