Aug 24

Study on Equality Bodies

This EU-wide research project identified all the equality bodies set up under the Race and Gender Equality Directives in the EU Member States and the three EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. A qualitative and quantitative comparative analysis was undertaken of all the bodies identified, including overviews of competences, independence, resources and visibility. The conclusions and recommendations to the Commission, Member States and equality bodies themselves provide advice on how equality bodies can improve their effectiveness and efficiency and realise their potential.


All EU Member States and EFTA countries have national equality bodies providing assistance to victims of discrimination, which were established pursuant to two EU directives protecting gender equality and prohibiting discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity. The project aimed to assess whether the equality bodies comply with the minimum requirements of the EU Directives and, more importantly, how the equality bodies are performing in practice and how they, as well as the European Commission, national government and local authorities and other relevant stakeholders, can help to improve their performance.


The equality bodies established in all 27 EU Member States and the three EFTA countries were examined at three different levels: a) factors internal to the operations of the equality body and under its control; b) factors relating to the conditions created for the equality body to implement its mandate and outside its control (national level); c) factors external to the jurisdiction within which the equality body operates but which influence its ability to realise its potential (European level).

Research activities included the identification of equality bodies in the countries concerned and the development of an extensive questionnaire for equality bodies and stakeholder focus groups at national and EU level, resulting in national fiches for each of the 30 countries.

The overall synthesis report is based on the analysis of the country fiches, the reports from the focus groups and the results of the questionnaires.


The project report provides an overview of the different types of equality bodies (tribunal-type and promotion-type) and categorises the bodies identified according to this typology. 

It also gives a comprehensive description of how the equality bodies implement the three areas of competence: providing independent assistance to victims of discrimination in pursuing their complaints of discrimination; conducting independent surveys concerning discrimination; and publishing independent reports and making recommendations on any issue relating to such discrimination.

It furthermore addresses the issue of the independence of equality bodies, as well as their compliance with the EU Directives and the impact and effectiveness of equality bodies.

The report includes the main conclusions and recommendation to the equality bodies, the European Commission and national governments and local authorities.

Main findings

One of the main findings is that equality bodies are highly effective potential actors in terms of combating discrimination and promoting equal opportunities.

Effective implementation of the tasks set out by the Equal Treatment Directives alone gives equality bodies a high potential in terms of social change.

Equality bodies can go even further in terms of rights enforcement as well as of policy change in areas such as improving the situation of individuals, stimulating changes in the policies, procedures and practices of organisations, improving the quality of policy and legislation by offering expertise, improving stakeholder action by guiding activities and improving public attitudes.



Study on Equality Bodies set up under Directives 200/43/EC, 2004/113/EC and 2006/54/EC (VT/2009/012 (2009-2010)

In partnership with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM)

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, European Union Member States

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