4th European Equality Summit

16 Nov 2010

Trade Unions from around Europe were well represented (including David Joyce from Congress and Anne Speed from SIPTU) at the 2 day equality summit co-hosted by the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council and the European Commission and held in Brussels 15/16 November 2010. The event was opened by Commissioner Vivienne Redding, who took t he opportunity to announce the new EU strategy for people with disabilities. The summit was attended by 500 people representing Governments, employers, trade unions, NGO's and Equality Bodies and discussed the need for redoubling efforts in promoting equality and combatting discrimination in employment during the economic crisis. Among the tools identified at the summit were: public authorities and the importance of public procurement policies; trade unions providing legal support to victims of discrimination; the vital role of collective bargaining; diversity charters aimed at encouraging companies to implement and develop diversity policies; the need for a new Anti Discrimination Directive outside the labour market; and the Inclusive Labour Market Agreement agreed by the social partners at European level. Planning for equality and mainstreaming were also identified as key components of any business case for equality. Ms. Ilze Brands-Kehris, Fundametal Rights Agency Chairperson, delivered a keynote speech on "The economic and financial crisis: a catalyst or an obstacle?" She highlighted the results of the Agency's study on the FRA's project on the impact of the Racial Equality Directive. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Public Service Union (EPSU) expressed the need to push forward the Equality agenda particularly in this context of crisis. Read more on the trade union input here. A summary of a European trade union anti-discrimination and diversity study carried out by the Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI) for the European Commission was also circulated at the summit.