[editar plantilla]

EU approves legislation to strengthen equality bodies and to which the future Spanish Independent Authority for Equal Treatment will be subject [editar]

Fundación Secretariado Gitano

EU approves legislation to strengthen equality bodies and to which the future Spanish Independent Authority for Equal Treatment will be subject

After years of processing and debate, and just before its dissolution ahead of the upcoming elections, the Council of the EU today formally approved two directives to strengthen the equality bodies. The equality bodies were set up in application of various directives adopted in the early 2000s, including Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin. This is a fundamental regulation to achieve effectiveness in the fight against all forms of discrimination, including antigypsyism. Fundación Secretariado Gitano participated in its processing by sending contributions to the national consultation.

In the case of Spain, the body created to carry out the task set out in Directive 2000/43/EC was the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination (CEDRE), under the Ministry of Equality. Fundación Secretariado Gitano is a member of this body and also coordinates its victim assistance service. However, as we have been demanding since its creation, this body does not meet the requirements established in European regulations, given that it lacks independence and lacks the resources and powers to carry out its tasks properly.

This situation seemed to improve with the approval of the Comprehensive Law for Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination in July 2022, as its articles foresee the creation of a body called the Independent Authority for Equal Treatment, with the task of monitoring the implementation of anti-discrimination legislation and providing specialised assistance to people who, as usually happens with Roma, suffer from discriminatory incidents. Unlike CEDRE, this body would be independent from the government (which is key to act in cases of institutional discrimination) and would have more competences and functions. However, despite the fact that almost two years have passed since the law was passed, the Independent Authority has not been created, although the government has recently announced that it is carrying out preparatory work to approve the regulations that will establish it.

Therefore, this European regulation is being approved at a key moment, when the Independent Authority in Spain is being designed, being the propitious context for incorporating European standards, which in many aspects raise the standards already established in the Law of 2022. Indeed, with these new Directives, a number of key issues are reinforced, such as:

  • independence, which must also be guaranteed in the operating rules of the bodies;
  • the adequacy of resources to carry out the functions;
  • the possibility of carrying out ex officio investigations, for which it is required that this body should have full access to information from all administrations involved;
  • awareness-raising campaigns, so that the fight against discrimination can also be tackled from a preventive, not just a reactive, approach;
  • alternative means of conflict resolution, which makes it possible to work from a restorative justice perspective;
  • strategic litigation in emblematic cases of discrimination, to ensure that case law advances in the application of norms and standards, as well as in the protection of victims; and
  • cooperation between equality bodies in different Member States, which will enable them to learn from best practice in promoting equal treatment.

In short, this new European legislation represents a major step forward in tackling all forms of discrimination by strengthening the bodies entrusted with this task, and, if applied effectively, it will have a positive impact on those who, like Roma people, face this violation of their fundamental rights in all spheres of life.