The European Handbook on Equality Data defines equality data as any piece of information that is useful for the purposes of describing and analysing the state of equality. The information may be quantitative or qualitative in nature. It could include aggregate data that reflect inequalities or their causes or effects in society. Sometimes data that are collected primarily for reasons other than equality-related purposes can be used for producing equality data.
Accurate and comparable data is essential in enabling policy-makers and the public to assess the scale and nature of discrimination suffered by vulnerable and marginalised groups. It allows policy makers to better design, adapt, monitor and evaluate policies. Equality data are, therefore, a powerful tool in the fight against discrimination and exclusion.
The European Union has in place an advanced legal framework with which to promote equality and non-discrimination. All 27 EU Member States have transposed this legal framework into national law, often going beyond the minimum standards included in the Racial Equality Directive and the Employment Equality Directive.
The need to improve the collection of reliable and comparable data at European and national level was also emphasised in a number of Commission’s initiatives, including the Gender Equality Strategy, the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy, the EU Roma Strategic Framework and the Anti-racism Action Plan.
Despite this, there is a consistent lack of comparable and regular data collection on equality and non-discrimination, which limits effective monitoring of the application of these legal and policy instruments. Obstacles include problems in establishing a common methodology, with some Member States collecting such data while others consciously avoid this approach.
The Subgroup on Equality Data
Acknowledging the importance of equality data, in February 2018, the EU High Level Group on Non-discrimination, Equality and Diversity set up the Subgroup on Equality Data to help Member States improve the collection and use of equality data. The European Commission asked the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) to facilitate the work of this Subgroup.
The Subgroup on Equality Data is made up of representatives from EU Member States and Norway, the European Commission, Eurostat, Eurofound, EIGE and FRA. Member States representatives are experts from governmental departments dealing with non-discrimination policies, national statistical institutes and equality bodies. It provides a forum for relevant national authorities and EU institutions, to discuss challenges and opportunities in improving the collection and use of equality data.
Guidelines on how to improve the collection and use
of equality data - 2018
In 2018, the HLG adopted the set of non-binding guidelines on how to improve the collection and use of equality data, compiled practices implemented at national level related to the set of guidelines and developed a diagnostic tool/checklist with which to assess the availability and quality of equality data collected at national level.
Guidance Note on the collection and use of equality data based
on racial or ethnic origin - 2021
In 2020, the Subgroup’s mandate was extended to 2025, to support the European Commission’s efforts to implement a consistent approach on equality data collection, as regards data disaggregated by racial or ethnic origin. To meet this goal, the Subgroup agreed to develop practical guidance to Member States on improving the collection of data disaggregated by racial or ethnic origin.
Roundtable on equality data - 30 September 2021
As announced in the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan, the Commission is virtually organising a Roundtable on equality data, on 30 September 2021. The Roundtable will focus on examining the obstacles to the collection of equality data and on fostering the exchange of best practices, to encourage Member States, in full respect of their national contexts, to move towards the collection of data disaggregated on the basis of all the relevant discrimination grounds.