The public health crisis triggered by COVID-19 and the measures taken by governments to tackle it are not neutral. They affect some in Europe more than others, with disproportionately negative effects on certain groups, often already in a disadvantaged socio-economic position and at risk of discrimination.

Equality is one of the shared founding values and principles of Europe. Equality benefits everyone and must be part of the solution in our response to the fallout of COVID-19. The current pandemic provides us with an opportunity to rebuild a fair, equal and resilient society by making sure we leave no one behind as we move forward from this crisis period.

For this reason, Equinet has produced the “Recommendation for a fair and equal Europe: Rebuilding our societies after COVID-19” to use as a minimum standard based on laws and common European values in the measures to be taken following this pandemic.

How can equality bodies help?

Equality bodies promote and protect the fundamental value of equality for the benefit of all and work in particular for those who are disadvantaged and discriminated. They are ready to advise on measures that improve equal treatment of all using their unique expertise and experience. See examples of their work to tackle discrimination linked to responses to Covid-19 here.

Recommendations for Policy Makers

Equinet recommends that EU and national actions should aim at eliminating systemic problems of inequality. This should include promoting equality as a shared value and as a key characteristic which underpins the response to the economic and social crisis and all economic and social policy cycles.

Furthermore, the EU and all countries should strengthen their equality legislation in a way that confirms equality as a central value, make sure it is effectively enforced and demonstrates an ambition to achieve full, substantive equality in practice.

Finally, all countries should strengthen national equality bodies and allow them to fulfill their potential in monitoring and enforcing equality legislation, promoting equality in society and policy making, working with duty bearers to support good practice and collecting and analysing data and evidence to provide expertise.

Equinet is a network of 49 institutions and organizations for combating discrimination from 36 European countries, including the Office of the Ombudswoman and the offices of the Ombudswoman for Persons with Disabilities and the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality. Its Executive Board is chaired by Deputy Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter.

Read the full recommendation in English here.