A prosperous and social Europe depends on us all. We need equality for all and equality in all of its senses.” 

Ursula von der Leyen - Political guidelines for 2019-2024


“I will not rest when it comes to building a Union of equality.” 
Ursula von der Leyen - President of the European Commission, State of the Union 2020


We are stronger together as a union of Member States, as we are stronger together as diverse societies. We are stronger when we are all valued, when all are included. I will work for equality for women and men, race and ethnic minorities, with particular attention to the Roma minority, religious and non-religious minorities, persons who are discriminated against because of their age, persons with disabilities and gender and sexual minorities.” 

Commissioner Helena Dalli, Hearing in the European Parliament, 2 October 2019

The Commission is engaged in achieving a Union of equality. This is exactly why President von der Leyen set up a dedicated equality portfolio and the Task Force on Equality. To achieve this goal, we are putting in place mechanisms, policies and actions that challenge structural discrimination and the stereotypes that are often present in our societies. This to create the conditions for everyone to live, thrive and lead regardless of differences based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. An equal Union will also ensure that decision-making takes into account the needs of everyone in our societies, and addressing intersectional discrimination


Building a Union of equality

  • 55% of women in the EU have been sexually harassed and women are more likely to experience online sexual harassment than men
  • 33% of women in the EU have experienced physical and/or sexual violence
  • Women in the EU earn on average 14% less than men per hour
  • Only 7.8% of board chairs and 8.2% of CEOs are women

The Gender Equality Strategy presents policy objectives and actions to make significant progress by 2025 towards a gender-equal Europe. The goal is a Union where women and men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, are free to pursue their chosen path in life, have equal opportunities to thrive, and can equally participate in and lead our European society.

The key objectives are ending gender-based violence; challenging gender stereotypes; closing gender gaps in the labour market; achieving equal participation across different sectors of the economy; addressing the gender pay and pension gaps; closing the gender care gap and achieving gender balance in decision-making and in politics.

The next steps include:

  • The proposal for binding pay transparency measures, following up on the public consultation and the impact assessment conducted throughout 2020
  • The implementation of the gender action plan (GAP III) in external relations, which builds on the EU gender equality strategy and aims at a gender-equal world
  • A legislative proposal by the Commission in 2021 to combat gender-based violence 


EU anti-racism Action Plan 2020-2025

People feel mostly discriminated based on their ethnic origin in access to:

  • Work: 29%
  • Housing: 23%
  • Education: 12%

The EU anti-racism Action Plan sets outs a number of actions to tackle racism through EU law but also other means – working with Member States, including national law enforcement, media and civil society; harnessing available and future EU tools; and looking into Commission’s own human resources.  Among others, the action plan calls for better enforcement of EU law; closer coordination with people with a minority racial or ethnic background, Member States, the European Parliament and civil society; fair policing and protection; reinforced action at national level through national action plans; and increased diversity of EU staff.

The next steps include:

  • The appointment of an EU anti-racism coordinator in 2021
  • An implementation report on the Racial Equality Directive in 2021 with possible proposal for new legislation by 2022
  • National action plans to be adopted by the end of 2022 with a first progress report by the Commission at the end of 2023


EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation 2020-2030

  • 41% of  Roma have experienced discrimination over the past 5 years
  • 85% of Roma children are at risk of poverty compared to 20% of children in the general population
  • 62% of Roma youth are not in education, employment or training compared to 10% of youth in the general population

The new EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation sets a series of targets to be achieved by 2030. All Roma should have the opportunity to realise their full potential and engage in political, social, economic and cultural life. To achieve these targets, the Commission set out a list of measures to be taken by Member States in order to speed up progress with clear benchmarks that need to be met by the end of the Strategic Framework’s implementation period. The guidance and measures range from developing support systems for Roma victims of discrimination, to awareness raising campaigns in schools, supporting financial literacy, promoting the employment of Roma in public institutions, and improving access to quality medical check-ups, screening, and family planning. The Commission also proposed to the Council a recommendation on Roma equality, inclusion and participation.

The next steps include:

  • The delivery by Member States of their national Roma strategies followed by a report on their implementation every two years
  • The monitoring by the Commission of progress towards 2030 targets


LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025

  • 19% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, 35% of trans people and 32% of intersex people felt discriminated against at work in the previous year.
  • 38% of LGBTI people have experienced hate-motivated harassment for being LGBTI in the 12 months preceding the survey.
  • 40% of respondents to a survey pointed to ethnic origin or immigrant background as an additional ground for discrimination, besides being LGBTI.

The first-ever lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) Equality Strategy addresses the inequalities and challenges affecting this community, setting out a number of targeted actions, including legal and funding measures, for the next 5 years. The actions focus around four main pillars: tackling discrimination; ensuring safety; building inclusive societies; and leading the call for LGBTIQ equality around the world.

The next steps include:

  • The presentation of an initiative by the Commission in 2021 to extend the list of ‘EU crimes’ to hate crime and hate speech, including when targeted at LGBTIQ people

  • The proposal of a legislative initiative on the mutual recognition of parenthood and possible measures to support the mutual recognition of same-gender partnership between Member States


Mainstreaming equality into all EU policies

With the support of the Task Force on Equality created at the beginning of the mandate, the Commission aims at integrating an equality perspective in all EU policies and majors initiatives. In addition to supporting Commissioner Dalli in her daily work and contributing to the delivery of concrete initiatives promoting equality, the Task Force on Equality plays a key role in mainstreaming equality in all policies, from their design to their implementation. This includes providing strategic guidance, designing a toolbox for policy-makers, organising trainings and facilitating the work on equality undertaken by different services. The Task Force pursues an intersectional approach to equality mainstreaming to ensure that the different aspects of people’s personal characteristics/identities are duly considered – for instance, the needs of women with disabilities are likely to be different both from those of men with disabilities and women without disabilities. The Task Force on Equality is composed of representatives of all Commission services and the European External Action Service and is supported by a Secretariat based in the Secretariat General of the European Commission.

Addressing the Covid-19 crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation both in Europe and globally. Social isolation measures and movement restrictions increased significantly domestic violence and abuse. Other issues arising are discriminatory treatment in access to healthcare, difficulties in obtaining social services and care, and lack of accessible information. In its response to the crisis, the Commission is committed to promote equality.

The Commission has put in place a number of measures to support EU Member States:

  • a COVID-19 Response Investment Initiative with the mobilisation of the European Social Fund and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived to provide support for the most vulnerable, such as people with disabilities or elderly persons.
  • Support to Member States in organising a series of webinars on gender equality aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, as part of the Mutual Learning Programme in Gender Equality, to cover good practices on tackling domestic violence, gender equality aspects of work and care and gender-balance in decision-making all in the context of COVID-19.

The EU will ensure that equality is at the heart of the recovery. A prosperous and social Europe depends on us all, irrespective of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. This is doubly important in a crisis which has had disproportionate impact on a number of groups in society.


Promoting equality across Europe & engaging with civil society

Raising awareness on the social and economic benefits of a fairer society and promoting the fundamental values that are freedom and equality are a cornerstone of Commissioner Dalli’s mission. In one year, the first ever Commissioner for Equality met with 94 umbrella civil society organisations, to listen to everyone’s concerns and engage with stakeholders for change at all levels.

Commissioner Dalli also participated in 68 events and conferences across Europe and online, including the visit to the Center preventing domestic violence in Bruxelles (CPVCF), the presentation of the EU

Anti-racism Action Plan with FIFA champions, the Belgium equality

body and the mayor of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean in a football playground in Molenbeek, and the 10 year anniversary seminar of EIGE in Vilnius, to promote the work of the European Commission for a Union of Equality and to advocate the fight against discrimination.

In June 2020, the Commission launched the contest of the 11th Access City Award, which recognises and celebrates a city’s willingness, ability and efforts to become more accessible for persons with disabilities. Commissioner Dalli unveiled Jönköping (Sweden) as the first winner under the new Commission’s mandate at the beginning of December 2020.

The Commission officially marked the International Women’s Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Race Equality Directive and the 10th anniversary of the EU Platform of Diversity Charters amongst others.

Interinstitutional engagement

The Commission is committed to a constructive partnership with the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. During the first year of her mandate as Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli participated in 55 parliamentary meetings and debates with Members of the European Parliament, and attended 5 Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meetings.