The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic marked 2020 with evidence of significant impact, gaps and consequences for equality on the ground. During the year, Equinet’s priority was to support, share and highlight at European level the national work of equality bodies responding to Covid-19 and how they offered support to vulnerable groups and people to protect and promote equality in society. The importance and essential contribution of equality to a fair recovery looking forward to the future was made clear. This context demonstrated the ability of equality bodies to react quickly in order to promote and protect equality for all, especially in times of crisis, at national and local levels, and the crucial importance of European cooperation to be stronger together.
In the face of these global challenges, a strong equality legislation and infrastructure is more needed than ever. In 2020, we marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the EU’s Race Equality Directive as the first ‘new generation’ European equality law, fundamentally changing the landscape, not least by requiring all Member States to have national equality bodies. This anniversary also gave us an opportunity to think ahead and develop a vision for the future of equality legislation.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an issue that in recent years has seen an exponential growth in discussions about its use, potential and risks. Equinet realised early on the potential and risks AI holds for equality and thus in 2020 we could already contribute to the discussions with our own research, illustrating the potential of Equinet and its Members to innovate and react to new threats and opportunities in the fight against discrimination.
Beyond these three main highlights, which includes examples from the work of Equinet and equality bodies across Europe, our 2020 Highlights gives an overview of who we are, what we do, and introduces the people who make Equinet what it is: a pan-European cooperation built on peer solidarity among an expert community of equality bodies working together (despite difficult circumstances) to tackle discrimination and achieve equality together.
Equinet is particularly grateful to the European Commission, for its invaluable support through the EC Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme and for its ongoing commitment to enable the potential of Equinet and support stronger national equality bodies.