Equinet in 2019
2019 is a milestone year for Equinet as our European Network of Equality Bodies embarks on the first year of its new Strategic Plan for the period 2019 - 2022. Building upon our achievements and learnings from previous years, we start with renewed motivation and energy to work towards the realisation of the objectives under the new Strategic Plan, to advance and achieve substantive equality for all in Europe.
In past years, Equinet’s focused work towards promoting standards for equality bodies materialised in two important documents at European level. In 2018, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation on standards for equality bodies in order to ensure the independence and effectiveness of national equality bodies. The Recommendation, a legal act of the Commission, sets minimum standards concerning the mandate of equality bodies; their independence; their effectiveness, including sufficient resources and appropriate powers; and the national institutional architecture for equality. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe also published its revised General Policy Recommendation No 2, providing standards to member states for the mandate, institutional infrastructure, effectiveness, independence and accessibility of equality bodies in order to realise their full potential and better protect people facing discrimination. In 2019, Equinet and national equality bodies must now take on the challenge to promote and support the monitoring and implementation of the European Commission’s Recommendation and the ECRI General Policy Recommendation at national level across Europe.
2019 will also be a year of important milestones for equality in Europe. In May 2019, Europe will elect a new Parliament to serve the Union for the next five years, and a new European Commission will be appointed. Equinet and equality bodies will closely follow the developments leading to the formation of the European Union’s key institutions. We will take on the challenge to pursue work on their values-based messaging to promote the appreciation of equality and diversity as core values in Europe, to ensure a strong equality agenda for the years to come at European level. This political commitment must be supported by strong financial mechanisms. Equinet will support the EU institutions in their work towards the adoption of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework Post-2020 with a strong equality focus.
We look forward to an important year of work, addressing challenges and exploring opportunities on topics including sexual harassment, promoting equality for older persons, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), artificial intelligence and digitalisation, positive narratives, among other important priorities. In this context, in 2019 we will continue to work with our member national equality bodies across Europe, as well as the range of our partners and stakeholders at European level to effectively tackle discrimination and achieve substantive equality for everyone in Europe.
Equinet in 2020
Bringing the network into a new decade. 2020 is a year of turning points for Equinet and equality in Europe. A new European Parliament has been elected and a new Commission has been put together, bringing new opportunities, particularly in the nomination of a Commissioner solely focused on equality. During the year, Equinet will pursue its work on values-based messaging to promote the appreciation of equality and diversity as core values in Europe, and share the knowledge and learning from the work of equality bodies extensively with these new leaders and decision-makers to advance equality in Europe.
2020 sees the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Race Equality Directive 2000/43/EC. To feed into the evaluation of its implementation, Equinet will organize a conference to celebrate the stipulation of equality bodies in EU law in 2000 and discuss the potential, achievements and challenges of equality bodies over the past 20 years. The conference will also address the standards for equality bodies developed by the European Commission in its 2018 Recommendation, and those provided in the revised General Policy Recommendation No. 2 produced by the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe in 2017. These standards are one of the most positive developments for equality bodies in recent years. Equinet’s project on standards for equality bodies will focus on how to support their implementation, in order to help national equality bodies reach their full potential as champions of equality in Europe.
2020 also marks the 13th anniversary of Equinet. Equinet is working towards an increasingly resilient, engaged and innovative Network. With the introduction of a new membership and network development officer role, we will reinforce our engagement with members, improve internal communication and support, as well as provide more targeted information about the work of equality bodies to relevant audiences.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was set out in 2015. By 2020, five years have passed since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN General Assembly, and although some progresses have been noted, many of the targets are not set to be reached before the deadline. The work of equality bodies can have a substantive impact in accelerating the process, and as the SDGs are gaining more importance in Europe, Equinet and its members will seize this momentum to assert their potential in advancing the 2030 agenda. Equality bodies have, since their creation, actively contributed in reducing inequalities, and hold the tools to both support the implementation of the SDGs and monitor their progress in European countries. Equinet will work to assist equality bodies’ work on SDGs and strengthen their capacity in leading European countries towards their achievement.
2020 evokes the perfect academic grade, 20/20. It is a score that Equinet hopes to see Europe acquire on equality issues. To work towards an equal Europe, we need to make sure discriminated groups are not considered mutually exclusive. Although equality bodies can have diverse mandates, covering different grounds, it is important to take into account the ways they intersect in order to support policy and legal improvements suited for the specific needs of groups victims of multiple, intersecting grounds of discrimination. Therefore, in 2020, although this Workplan has adopted a ground-based approach, Equinet will continue to apply the lens of intersectionality throughout its work.
As we enter into this new decade, with a new European Commission and a new European Parliament, we continue to make central, through strengthened cooperation, the values we hold dear as a Network – respect, equality and justice. Together we can achieve equality for all.