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Local and regional leaders welcome Commissioner Dalli's support for their work in fostering diversity and inclusion on the ground  

Regional and local administrations have a "key" role to play in the European Union's efforts to promote discrimination-free societies, the President of the Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro, defended in a debate focused on promoting diversity in the EU with EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli.

The debate was held in the last week of the European Diversity Month, created by the European Union in 2020 to celebrate and promote diversity and inclusion and to mark the 10th anniversary of the European Platform for Diversity Charters. In their debate, members of the CoR and Commissioner Dalli also took stock of the progress of local and regional authorities in promoting gender equality, following the publication of the "2023 Report on gender equality in the EU ".

In his opening statement, Vasco Alves Cordeiro , President of the European Committee of the Regions, said: "Europe’s diversity is its richness. Our citizens need to feel respected in every way, wherever they live. Municipalities and regional governments are responsible for implementing policies that are key to making sure that we respect all citizens and their diversity, from education, to awareness raising, to integration and protection of minorities, to even the way we build and ensure there are no barriers. As we could see with the cities that received the 2023 Diversity Awards by the European Commission (link), many already lead by example. The awards are a great recognition and encouragement for other cities in Europe to strengthen their inclusion strategies."

Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality, stressed: "Regions and local authorities play a key role in our challenge to build a Union of Equality . They are well-equipped to act fast and implement policies that contribute to fostering a sense of belonging and promoting common values.Their efforts show us what is effective in promoting equality locally, and provide examples of best practices which can support our policies at the European level. This is why we have doubled funding to support regions to act against discrimination and intolerance."

The CoR has expressed its full support for the policies and the measures introduced to meet the objective of 'building a Union of equality' set out by European Commission President Von der Leyen, and has set out specific recommendations in its opinions on: the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 ; EU anti-racism Action Plan 2020-2025; Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life (2021-2030); EU Roma Strategy 2020-2030; LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025 ; and Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Within its opinions, the Committee has called for increased resources to implement these strategies and asked the Commission to set up an inter-institutional working group to ensure that EU, national, regional and local administrations work together in these policy areas.

To highlight regions' and cities' role in this crucial challenge, the European Commission has established the European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity award. The award, which is open to all local and regional authorities, is designed to recognise the work of cities and towns in building environments that allow everyone to feel safe and realise their potential. The award includes three categories: local authorities serving a population smaller or larger than 50,000 inhabitants, and a special award for LGBTIQ equality initiatives. The CoR has been part of the jury of this award since 2022.

One of the award winners, Valter Glavičić, Mayor of Labin in Croatia, contributed to the debate, underlining Labin's efforts to create an inclusive environment for ethnic minorities – chiefly Bosnian, Serbian and Italian minorities who settled in Labin during the coal-mining era.

The Special Award for LGBTIQ Equality was conferred on the city of Gdańsk in Poland. Its Equality Strategy focused on LGBTIQ people, with the innovative initiative 'LGBT+-friendly service standards', jointly developed with local associations, to coordinate all the services provided by the municipality, including psychological, social and family support. Aleksandra Dulkiewicz (PL/EPP), Mayor of Gdańsk said:" The situation of the LGBTQIA+ community in Poland has been getting worse in recent years. These people are also the target of political attacks from the government. Gdańsk actively and consistently supports excluded communities. I am proud that in Gdańsk, the equality policy is introduced by democratic methods, including the citizens' assembly; it is subject to a city-wide discussion and voted by the City Council. Our social campaign "Gdańsk as the City of Equality" was also well received by the public. Most of the people felt that it was important and needed."

Background information:

The European Diversity Month 2023 takes place during May. This year its focus is on diversity in the workplace and promoting inclusive work environments. It raises awareness of how diversity benefits all by making space for more ideas, perspectives, talents and skills to prosper, and thus enhancing wellbeing, improving decision-making and increasing the potential for higher productivity. Diversity Month is led by the European Commission together with the European Platform of Diversity Charters, which brings together 26 national diversity charters. Diversity Chartershelp public- and private-sector organisations to design and implement effective diversity and inclusion policies in the workplace. This year the focus is "Assessing diversity and inclusion".

The European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity Award is open to all local authorities in the EU who work to build fairer societies by promoting diversity and inclusion in terms of: sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, LGBTIQ identity. This year's winners, announced by the European Commission on 27 April, come from seven Member States: Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

CoR opinions on the five axes of the Union of Equality:

Background material: The plenary agenda and opinions and amendments.

Webstreaming: On the website of the CoR.


Wioletta Wojewodzka

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