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Home >> News >> Equinet >> Call for Proposals: An Equinet Paper on Positive Duties (deadline: 10 (...)

Call for Proposals: An Equinet Paper on Positive Duties (deadline: 10 April)

March 8th 2016

Making Europe More Equal: a Positive Duty?

Equinet is commissioning a research paper on positive and equality duties in Europe today. Positive duties go beyond the positive action defined in the EU Equal Treatment Directives, and the research will seek to map out current practices and measures implemented.

Submission deadline: 10 April 2016


Several Equinet publications have highlighted the positive impact of equality duties in areas as diverse as social and economic rights, religion and belief, gender equality, gender-based harassment, disability, and LGBTI issues. In its conclusion, the Equinet Paper on Positive Action Measures relies on the experience of equality bodies in claiming that “obligations imposed by the state to take action can be effective”. The current research will collect this wide-ranging experience and evaluate the range and effectiveness of existing positive/equality duties.


The Equinet Work Programme 2016 commits to commissioning ‘a study on the use of positive duties and equality duties in promoting equality.
The use of positive duties (such as compulsory pay audits or equality plans) and equality duties (such as a duty on all public sector organisations to have due regard to equality in all their functions) has gained prominence in recent years. They offer a novel approach to securing more equal societies by going beyond the reactive anti-discrimination model, yet introducing binding requirements on duty bearers.
The Equinet study will build on existing research on the topic and it will examine the advantages, challenges and possible shortcomings of positive duties and equality duties. This will be complemented by an analysis of good practices and comparisons between the different existing systems.
The study will conclude with recommendations offering ideas for equality bodies to use and spread the use of these tools.’
Accordingly, the contractor will be expected to produce an Equinet paper. The purpose of the paper is to:

  • Review relevant literature on positive duties and equality duties in Europe, analyzing the need for such duties and making a conceptual distinction between positive/equality duties and positive action measures
  • Map out the positive/equality duties in existence in Europe today, providing an overview with case studies from member states
  • Examine the advantages, challenges and possible shortcomings of positive/equality duties through practical examples
  • Examine the role of equality bodies in implementing and monitoring positive/equality duties.
  • Provide recommendations on how equality bodies can contribute to work on positive/equality duties and how they can promote increased use of such tools.


During the process, the contractor will be expected to:

  • Conduct a review of relevant literature
  • Conduct a review of EU and national level positive duties
  • Conduct a survey of Equinet members to collect their inputs, perspective and information on the topic
  • Interview selected duty bearers responsible for implementing positive equality duties
  • Conduct interviews with selected equality bodies (at least 6 interviews, observing a geographical balance and a balance in the mandate and competences of the equality bodies) that
    • Have a direct role in enforcing positive duties vis-à-vis the duty bearers, or
    • Have an indirect role in enforcing positive duties by litigating once a failure to fulfil the positive duty is identified
  • Engage with key stakeholders, including the European Commission (the Commission is subject to positive duties under Articles 8 and 10 of the TFEU).
  • Engage with the Equinet Board, Secretariat and Working Groups as appropriate


The paper (to be produced in English) is expected to:

  • Provide an overview of the rationale behind introducing positive duties
  • Provide an overview of relevant European and national legal sources and frameworks enabling and enacting positive duties
  • Examine the advantages, challenges and possible shortcomings of positive/equality duties through practical examples
  • Provide a typology of positive duties enacted, broken down by field of activity where the duty applies (i.e. employment, goods and services, public services, etc.)
  • Analyse differences between positive duties by legal framework (general positive duties covering all grounds of discrimination versus positive duties limited to a single ground of discrimination)
  • Analyze existing enforcement mechanisms for positive duties
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of positive duties in achieving their stated aims, examining possible correlations with enforcement mechanisms
  • Examine in particular the role of equality bodies in monitoring, enforcing, and/or securing effective compliance with positive duties.
  • Provide ideas and proposals (including legal as well as policy tools) to increase the use of positive duties, with particular attention to the potential contribution of equality bodies.


The selected expert(s) or team to be commissioned for this report/paper is expected to demonstrate:

  • A track record of research work in the field of equality and human rights
  • Publication(s) in the field of EU equality policies and/or legislation
  • Good knowledge of the work of national equality bodies and their diversity
  • Excellent drafting skills in English

Submission deadline: 10 April 2016
For full details, please consult the attached Terms of Reference (ToR).

Terms of Reference - Positive Duties
Terms of Reference - Positive Duties