Commission to refuse a new EU gender equality strategy? CESI and EWL send joint letter to Luxembourgish Council Presidency

2 Dec 2015

News has spread that the European Commission does not intend to adopt a renewed EU Gender Equality Strategy as a successor to the current strategy that runs out at the end of the year. Ahead of a discussion on this topic at an EPSCO Council meeting upcoming on December 7, CESI and the European Women's Lobby (EWL) sent a joint letter to the Luxembourgish Council Presidency, calling on it to push the Commission to revise its position and adopt a proper EU Strategy.

Commission to refuse a new EU gender equality strategy? CESI and EWL send joint letter to Luxembourgish Council Presidency

So far, all that the Commission wants to commit to is a low-level ‘Staff working paper’ – a set of guidelines which is neither legally binding nor a strong political statement in favour of gender equality that a proper EU Strategy would be in the form of a ‘Commission Communication’. CESI and the EWL do not think that this is good enough:

• In June 2015, a large majority of the national ministers responsible for gender equality sent a joint letter to Commissioner Jourová in which they strongly call for a new Strategy on equality between women and men after 2015;
• Also in June 2015 and by a vast majority, the European Parliament adopted a position in which it calls on the Commission to draw up and adopt a new separate strategy for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Europe;
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Furthermore, earlier this year the Commission ran a public consultation on Equality between women and men in the EU. In its official analysis of the results, the Commission itself admits that among almost 5,000 contributions an overwhelming percentage of the organisations, 93.9%, consider the priorities laid out in the current Strategy for equality between women and men as remaining valid or partially valid and that the most commonly mentioned priority was a call for a new comprehensive and stand-alone policy framework (“Strategy”) to be adopted by the Commission for the years 2016-2020.

Joint letter to the Luxembourgish Council Presidency

Given the unambiguous opinions expressed by the European Parliament, many EU Member States and organised civil society organisations, CESI and the EWL fail to see why there can be no renewed strategy. They therefore asked the Luxembourgish Council Presidency in a joint letter to call for a binding and comprehensive EU Strategy for equality between women and men from 2016 to 2020 at the upcoming EPSCO Council meeting on December 7. Commission Vice-president Frans Timmermans and the Commissioner for gender equality, Věra Jourová, received a copy of the letter.

CESI has also called on its national-level member organisations to take action and approach their respective ministers for employment/social affairs.