Coordination at national level

AuthorOuhnaoui, Hania; Bribosia, Emmanuelle; Navasartian, Areg; Rorive, Isabelle
At the federal level, from 2017, anti-discrimination policy was in the hands of the Secretary
of State, Zuhal Demir (N-VA - Nationalist Flemish Party). She was replaced by Kris Peeters
(Flemish Christian Party) at the end of 2018 when she resigned together with all the other
N-VA federal ministers. Since the installation of a short-term interim government, Nathalie
Muylle (CD&V, Chrstian Flemish Party) is the Minister in charge of the fight against poverty,
equal opportunities and disabled persons, in addition to being in charge of economy,
employment and external business.
Her counterparts are:
- In the Walloon Region, Mrs Christie Morreale (French-speaking Socialist Party), Vice-
President of the Walloon Government, Minister for Employment, Vocational
Education, Health, Social Action, Equal Opportunities and Women’s Rights.
- In the Flemish Region/Community, Mr Bart Somers (Dutch-speaking Liberal Party),
Minister for Internal and Administrative Affairs, Integration and Equal Opportunities.
- In the French Community, Mr Frédéric Daerden (French-speaking Socialist Party),
Vice-President and the Minister for Budget, Civil Service, Equal Opportunities and of
responsibility (tutelle) for Education in Brussels.
- In the Brussels Capital Region, Mrs Nawal Ben Hamou (French-speaking Socialist
Party), Secretary of State for Housing and Equal Opportunities.
- In the German-speaking Community, the Minister of Family, Health and Social
Affairs: Mr Antonios Antoniadis (Socialist Party).
At an early stage of the implementation of the EU anti-discrimination directives, the
absence of strong coordination between the different levels of the state was certainly the
most serious obstacle to the full compliance of Belgium with its obligations under EU law.
There has been significant improvement in this respect as the regions and communities
have shown a willingness to harmonise their statutory law with federal legislation.
Moreover, the federal state, the regions and the communities approved a Cooperation
Agreement, on 12 June 2013, to turn the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to
Racism into an inter-federal centre. The independent Inter-federal Centre for Equal
Opportunities (renamed Unia in 2016), which has been operational since March 2014, is
competent with regard to the various pieces of ET legislation adopted at both regional and
federal levels. However, as explained above (section 7), the former federal Government
remained silent on the other project of turning the Institute for the Equality of Women and
Men into an inter-federal institute. On 25 April 2019, the Belgian Federal Chamber of
Representatives adopted a legislative act that allows for the creation of a Federal Institute
for the Protection and the Promotion of Human Rights. This is the first body universally
responsible for human rights unlike the several different specialised bodies (e.g. Unia:
discrimination; Myria: migrants’ rights; IEFH: gender equality, …), whose respective
jurisdictions will remain untouched. Such a mechanism allows full implementation of the
United Nations ‘Paris Principles’ on the status and functioning of national institutions for
the protection and promotion of human rights (see section 7, above).
Under the former Federal Government, there were two initiatives aimed at fostering greater
coherence in equal opportunities policies. First, an Equal Opportunities Unit was created in
the federal administration. This ‘Pilot Group Diversity’ was set up in D ecember 2014. It is
made of internal and external experts in the field of diversity and meets four times a year.
Its role is:
- to develop a vision of a federal management of diversity;
- to coordinate the ‘plan-program’ and prioritise the projects;
- to manage and attribute the central budgets;

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