Paving the Way for an Equality-Centred Policy Cycle – Joint Statement of 136 civil society organisations

The European Union was founded on the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Yet too many people continue to face discrimination and inequality across the Union, including intersectional and multiple forms of discrimination in all aspects of their lives.[1] In the current climate, it is now imperative that the EU institutions strengthen their resolve to take meaningful and urgent action to address this reality.

As European Union leaders decide on their priorities for the 2024-2029 cycle, we call on them to ensure that equality and non-discrimination are included as central priorities in the EU work programme for the next five years. Only by centring equality and protection from discrimination in this way can the EU truly respond to the key concerns of people living in the Union.

The equality and non-discrimination agenda was afforded increased visibility and action during the last five years as a result of the ambitious “Union of Equality” agenda and the appointment of the first Commissioner for Equality. This led to unprecedented progress in efforts to advance equality and non-discrimination across EU policy making. Progress included the adoption of important initiatives such as the Directive on violence against women, inaugural Gender Equality and LGBTIQ Equality Strategies, an Anti-Racism Action Plan, a Green Paper on Ageing, an Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion, a Strategy to strengthen the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the EU, as well as the renewal of the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the EU Roma strategic framework.

At this critical juncture, it is vital that the EU continue to prioritize efforts to guarantee the founding values of equality and non-discrimination, to advance the entire package which comprises the Union of Equality, and to ensure an intersectional approach to this agenda. Failure to do so would seriously jeopardise progress in this area and mark a very dangerous step backward.  

To this end we call on EU leadership to take the following steps:

  • Appoint a Commissioner for Equality and Fundamental Rights, ensuring the mandate has the power to renew and deepen the Union of Equality agenda and nominating a candidate with a demonstrated commitment to equality;
  • Strengthen the Union of Equality agenda by introducing new strategies to address grounds not already covered, mainstreaming all strategies across policy areas and renewing and building-out existing equality strategies, such as the Gender Equality Strategy, LGBTIQ Equality Strategy, the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan, the Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion, the EU Strategy on the rights of persons with disabilities and the Roma strategic framework;
  • Ensure the next EU budget includes robust funding streams for civil society organisations working on equality and non-discrimination;
  • Ensure equality and non-discrimination objectives are also core components of EU priorities in the sphere of international cooperation, external and humanitarian action;
  • Maintain the current status of the Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and refrain from weakening its mandate;
  • Establish a Council configuration dedicated to equality in the EU and ensure concrete commitments towards implementation of equality strategies by member states;
  • Establish a new Directorate-General for Equality and Fundamental Rights thereby strengthening the Commission’s ability to design and monitor equality and non-discrimination laws and policies;
  • Renew and upgrade the mandates of the Commission Coordinators working on equality, ensuring a focus on intersectionality during this term;
  • Entrust the Commission Task Force on Equality with a strong mandate and ensure it works transparently and in close consultation and cooperation with civil society organizations and networks.

As 136 civil society organisations with significant expertise on equality, and as representatives of groups at increased risk of discrimination across the EU, we issue this call as a testament to our solidarity with each other, and urge EU leaders to ensure that the people most affected by EU policies and legislation on equality and non-discrimination are always involved in their development and implementation.

  1. A Scuola Per Conoscerci, Italy
  2. ACCEPT Romania
  3. ACT Alliance EU
  4. AESCO (América, España, Solidaridad y Cooperación) 
  5. Agapanto, Italy
  6. AGE Platform Europe
  7. Agedo Nazionale, Italy
  8. Aidos (Italian Association for Women in Development)
  9. ALFI – Associazione Lesbica Femminista Italiana, Italy
  10. AlfiLune, Italy
  11. Amnesty International
  12. Amref Health Africa – Italy
  13. Anemos Dimiourgias – Greece
  14. ANTAMA (Greece)
  15. Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial Brussels
  16. APRe! Associação de Aposentados, Pensionistas e Reformados (Portugal)
  17. ARCIGAY LGBTQIA+ Association, Italy
  18. ASKV Refugee Support
  19. Asociación de Investigación y Especialización sobre Temas Iberoamericanos – AIETI (Spain)
  20. Asociación Por Ti Mujer
  21. Association Bagdam Espace Lesbian – France
  22. Association Legebitra, Slovenia
  23. Association Liberas – Italy
  24. Association for Monitoring Equal Rights / Eşit Haklar İçin İzleme Derneği (Turkey)
  25. ASTRA Network
  26. ATDAL Over 40 (Italy)
  27. Austrian Disability Council
  28. Austrian Family Planning Association (OGF)
  29. Autism-Europe
  30. Avaaz
  31. Avocats Sans Frontières
  32. Belgian Disability Forum (BDF)
  33. Brain Injured and families European Federation (BIF)
  34. çavaria, Belgium
  35. Center for Reproductive Rights
  36. Certi Diritti, Italy
  37. Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale ” Mario Mieli”, Italy
  38. Civil Rights Defenders
  39. COC Nederland
  40. Cologne Counselling – Germany
  41. Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO)
  42. Dachverband Lesben und Alter e.V. – Germany
  43. Danish Family Planning Association
  44. Disabled Peoples’ International European Region (DPI Europe)
  45. Doctors of the World Spain
  46. EDGE, Italy
  47. EMAIZE Sexologia Zentroa – Centro Sexológico
  48. End FGM EU
  49. Epen, El Parto es Nuestro
  50. EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C)
  51. European Blind Union (EBU)
  52. European Disability Forum
  53. European Dyslexia Association
  54. European Federation of Hard of Hearing People
  55. European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
  56. European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO Network)
  57. European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA)
  58. European Women’s Lobby
  59. Famiglie Arcobaleno APS, Italy
  60. Federación de Mujeres Progresistas
  61. Fédération Laïque de Centres de Planning Familial (FLCPF)
  62. Foundation for Women and Family Planning (FEDERA)
  63. French Family Planning / le Planning Familial
  64. Fundación Aspacia
  65. GAMS Belgium (Groupe pour l’Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles féminines)
  66. Gaynet – Formazione e Comunicazione sui temi Lgbti, Italy
  67. GenderLens, Italy
  68. General Commission for Justice and Peace of Spain
  69. GLAS Foundation, Bulgaria
  70. Haurralde Fundazioa 
  71. HelpAge International
  72. HelpAge International Spain
  73. Human Rights Watch
  74. IGLYO
  75. ILGA-Europe
  76. Iniciatíva Inakosť, Slovakia
  77. International Commission of Jurists
  78. International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN)
  79. International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC)
  80. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  81. International Federation of Persons with Physical Disabilities (FIMITIC)
  82. International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights
  83. International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN)
  84. IntersexEsiste, Italy
  85. Irish Family Planning Association
  86. Jovesólides
  87. Kif Kif vzw
  88. KISA
  89. Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation
  90. La Coordinadora de Organizaciones para el Desarrollo (Spain)
  91. La Strada International
  92. Labrisz Lesbian Association – Hungary
  93. LesbenRing e.V. – Germany
  94. Lesbian Magazine and Program Organizing Association – Hungary
  95. Lesbian Organisation Rijeka – LORI – Croatia
  96. LesWorking – Spain
  97. LGBT komiteen – The LGBT Committee, Denmark
  98. Light for the World
  99. LSVD, the Lesbian and Gay Federation, Germany
  100. Malta Federation of Organisations Persons with Disability (MFOPD)
  101. Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM)
  102. medicusmundi
  103. Mujeres Jóvenes de la Región de Murcia: 8 de marzo (MUJOMUR)
  104. Mujeres Supervivientes de Sevilla
  105. NET.Collect – Germany
  106. Nőkért Egyesület / Association for Women, Hungary 
  107. Nothern Ireland Council for Racial Equality (NICRE)
  108. OII Europe
  109. Older Women’s Network
  110. PA.SY.D.Y. Pensioners Union (Cyprus)
  111. Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)
  112. Polish Women’s Strike
  113. Possibile LGBTI+, Italy
  114. PRISME – Fédération wallonne LGBTQIA+, Belgium
  115. pro familia Bundesverband
  116. Quaker Council for European Affairs
  117. Queer Base – Welcome & Support for LGBTIQ Refugees – Austria
  118. Queer Sisterhood Cluj – Romania
  119. Quore, Italy
  120. Rainbow Families Croatia
  121. Red de Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe – España
  122. Rete Genitori Rainbow, Italy
  123. RFSL, Sweden
  124. Rutgers
  125. Save the Children
  126. SB Overseas
  127. SEDRA-Federación Planificación Familiar
  128. Sensoa
  129. Society for Education on Contraception and Sexuality – SECS
  130. Stichting LOS, Netherlands
  131. Terre des Femmes
  132. TGEU – Transgender Europe
  133. Toutes des Femmes -France
  134. Women Against Violence Europe – WAVE Network
  135. Zavod Moja mavrica – Slovenia
  136. Zavod Transfeministična Iniciativa TransAkcija – Slovenia

[1] Throughout the text, “equality and non-discrimination” is to be understood as encompassing equality and non-discrimination in the enjoyment of the full range of human rights, including all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.