During the last decades, and with the approval of the 2000 Directives (Race Equality Directive and the Framework Directive), EU equality and anti-discrimination legislation grew from the ground of gender to other grounds such as ethnic and racial origin and age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief. The EU was progressively protecting more and more citizens from discrimination, harassment and violence.
Nonetheless, EU anti-discrimination law does not equally protect all vulnerable groups in Europe. The draft EU “Horizontal Directive”, pending since July 2008 aims to offer more symmetric protection to victims of discrimination and would extend the mandate of Equality Bodies to also cover discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age and the intersectional and multiple discrimination that results from the combination of these grounds. This would be a milestone for building a fairer and more equal Europe.
Equality is a necessity and not a luxury. Strong laws are needed to ensure that all inhabitants of the EU can be protected, especially in times of crisis. We need to progress, taking into account the learnings from this year and the last decades, in constructing a strong, complete and inclusive legislative framework to ensure that no one is left behind.
On 14 October 2020 Equinet organized an online roundtable, together with MEP Alice Bah Kuhnke, on the future of equality legislation in Europe. The primary objective was to discuss the EU legal framework for equality and its implementation as well as advancing the adoption of the Horizontal Directive. The roundtable brought together members of the European Parliament and representatives of Equality Bodies to assess the current state of the EU legal framework for equality and identify ways of improving it. By focusing on potential areas of improvement in implementing the existing equality directives, there was particular focus on the Horizontal Directive and identifying possible future actions to advance equality and non-discrimination in Europe. Find a summary of the discussions in our Synthesis Report here.
We welcomed input from the following speakers: