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New equal opportunities centre planned for Brussels
The parliaments of Belgium agreed yesterday on the conditions for setting up a new centre to promote equal opportunities and fight discrimination and racism. The move comes as the government increases its efforts to comply with EU legislation that requires member states to treat all citizens equally regardless of race or ethnic origin.
The new centre will replace the existing Centre for Equal Opportunities and Anti-Racism, which did not conform to EU regulations because it did not have the authority to act at all levels of government. The new body has been given authority by the federal parliament as well as the regional and community parliaments.
“This is a historic agreement signed by all the parliaments in the country,” said Flanders’ minister for equal opportunities, Pascal Smet. He added that the Belgian agreement went beyond the strict requirements of EU legislation by offering citizens protection against discrimination on the grounds of nationality, sexual orientation, civil status, birth, wealth, age, belief, health, life expectancy, handicap, political or trade union affiliation, physical or genetic status and social position.
The new centre will be based in Brussels, but citizens will also be able to take their case to local contact points around the country.