Comparing Equality Bodies’ operations: powers, independence, mandates, and functions


Welcome to the Online Directory of European Equality Bodies – Comparing Equality Bodies' operations: powers, independence, mandates, and functions, your comprehensive resource for understanding and comparing the diverse roles and responsibilities of National Equality Bodies (NEBs) across Europe. As you navigate through the different views, you will uncover crucial insights into the sectors, legal standings, functions, fields & grounds of operation, mandates, offices, management structures and accountability of these institutions in their pursuit of combating discrimination and promoting equality.

  1.  Sectors of Operation: Discover the sectors in which National Equality Bodies operate, as their mandates extend across the public sector, private sector, or both.
  2. Legal Standing Before the Courts: Learn about the legal standing of National Equality Bodies before the courts. Some bodies actively participate in legal proceedings, taking on discrimination cases or acting as amicus curiae, while others may lack such standing.
  3. Functions Assigned: Explore the various functions assigned to National Equality Bodies, including advising governments, making legally binding decisions, conducting investigations, and carrying out research on equality and non-discrimination. Beyond the common functions, some National Equality Bodies address issues such as violence against women, hate crimes, and hate speech.
  4. Fields and Grounds of Operation: Delve into the fields covered by NEBs, such as employment, education, housing, social protection, healthcare, goods, and services. Understand the grounds of discrimination they address, such as age, disability, race or ethnic origin, sex or gender, religion or belief, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or gender identity and expression, whether single-ground or multi-ground bodies.
  5. Mandates: Explore the different types of mandates National Equality Bodies can have, ranging from standalone dedicated bodies to multi-mandate institutions, holding for instance also an ombudsperson function.
  6. Management Structures: Understand the institutional framework of National Equality Bodies, including both single-headed and collegiate-headed structures led by directors, ombudsperson, or commissioners.
  7. Regional and Local Offices: Discover which National Equality Bodies have established regional or local offices to support victims of discrimination and find out about the distribution of offices across countries.
  8. Accountability Systems: Learn about the accountability systems of National Equality Bodies, which might include the National Parliament, Head of State, National Ministry, National Audit Institution, or other specified authorities.

Embark on this journey through the intricacies of European Equality Bodies, gaining a deeper understanding of their pivotal role in fostering a more inclusive and equitable society. Click on the respective links to uncover the wealth of information within each section.

User Guide

This page features interactive Tableau dashboards. Users can engage with the content by hovering over the dashboards and by clicking on elements to interact with them.

For instance, the 1st dashboard, titled "In which sectors do National Equality Bodies work in?" comprises two components: a donut chart and a map. Users have the ability to select a sector in the donut chart and initiate a click to filter corresponding elements on the map located to the right. Hovering over countries on the map reveals Equality Bodies within the chosen sector. Further sector filtration is achievable through the "Sectors" filter positioned at the top center of the dashboard.

To extract or copy the results of a dashboard or access its underlying data, users can click on the desired section and proceed to the "Download" icon located at the bottom right of each dashboard. Subsequently, selecting "Data" allows for the examination of data in tabular form, with an option to download the generated table. Failure to click on "Data" indicates an incorrect selection.

It is essential to note that the "Download" icon will exclusively display one element of the dashboard. For instance, when navigating the dashboard "In which sectors do National Equality Bodies work in? ", clicking on the left side will present data from the donut chart. To view information on the Equality Bodies concerned, users must first click on the map before selecting the "Download" button.

For users with screen readers, dashboards are all described to allow for an easy and accessible experience for exploring the underlying data.

Sectors Covered by NEBs

The overall mandate of National Equality Bodies is to combat discrimination and promote equality, as well as to provide assistance to those experiencing discrimination. The specific mandate of National Equality Bodies may differ depending on the sectors in which they promote equal treatment. Their work may extend to the public sector, the private sector, or both public and private.


Functions of NEBs

The functions assigned to National Equality Bodies represent another distinguishing factor in NEBs respective mandates.

Among other functions they may include advising government on the development, adoption and amendment of law and policy; making legally binding decisions on claims of discrimination; undertaking investigations on complaints; or carrying out research on equality & non-discrimination.

You have below three different possibilities to visualize the functions.

Interactive map

Comparison table


Other functions of NEBs

In addition to the most common functions National Equality Bodies operate with, some also work on addressing violence against women; addressing hate crimes; and/or addressing hate speech.


Grounds and fields

The fields covered by National Equality Bodies mandates may include: Employment, Education, Housing, Social Protection & Healthcare, Goods and Services.

The grounds of discrimination covered by National Equality Bodies is another key element that differentiates NEBs as per their respective mandates. National Equality Bodies can be single-ground bodies or multi-ground bodies.

You have below three different possibilities to visualize the grounds and fields.

Interactive map

Comparison table

Other Grounds

In addition to the most common grounds of discrimination under which National Equality Bodies operate, some also work on other grounds such as the ones included in the below table.


Mandates of NEBs

Equality Bodies may either be a standalone dedicated national Equality Body or a multi-mandate institution. Multi-mandate Equality Bodies might also be a national human rights institution or be the office of an ombudsman. They may be designated as independent mechanism under UN CRPD Article 33(2) or a designated body on freedom of movement under Directive 2014/54/EU Article 4. They might also be a National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM) under the Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), or be responsible for whistleblower protection.



The institutional framework for National Equality Bodies involves two management systems: a single-headed structure, typically led by a director or ombudsman/commissioner, and a collegiate-headed structure, overseen by a distinct board or commission.


Regional/local offices

National Equality Bodies may have established regional or local offices to address potential cases of discrimination. The number of offices per Equality Body varies greatly depending on the country.


Accountability of NEBs

National Equality Body institutions may be differentiated as per accountability systems. Accountability refers to the obligation or responsibility of the Equality Body to report and answer to designated entities such as the National Parliament, Head of State, National Ministry, National Audit Institution, or any other specified authority.


This is an Equinet publication prepared based on the data shared by Equality Body Members and with the technical support of Headmind Partners provided in the frame of the project “Meeting the challenges of common Standards for European Equality Bodies - Mitigating the discriminatory potential of Artificial Intelligence” funded by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. The views expressed in it belong to the author(s) and neither Equinet, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency or the European Commission are liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.