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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Promoting equality between women and men

28-06-2019

The European Union (EU) is committed to eliminating inequalities and promoting gender equality 'in all its activities' and has made considerable advances over the years. Nevertheless, the situation remains uneven across the EU, and in recent times progress has slowed, stalled or even regressed in some areas. Yet, the evidence points clearly to the benefits of gender equality for individuals, the economy and society as a whole. Public opinion surveys show that a large majority of Europeans agree that ...

The European Union (EU) is committed to eliminating inequalities and promoting gender equality 'in all its activities' and has made considerable advances over the years. Nevertheless, the situation remains uneven across the EU, and in recent times progress has slowed, stalled or even regressed in some areas. Yet, the evidence points clearly to the benefits of gender equality for individuals, the economy and society as a whole. Public opinion surveys show that a large majority of Europeans agree that promoting gender equality is important for a fair and democratic society, the economy and for them personally and that a growing share of citizens would like the EU to do more in this area. Europeans also expect increased EU action on related policies. During the last legislative term, as part of a broader gender equality programme, the EU institutions have been working on proposals for new EU laws to improve work-life balance and combat violence against women. Promoting equality between women and men will remain one of the major challenges in the coming years. Demographic trends, technological developments and changes to the way we work are just some of the issues where different impacts on women and men will need to be considered. Options for further EU involvement could include better implementation and enforcement of existing legislation, moves to modernise it, fill gaps in protection and address emerging issues, and non-legislative measures such as data collection and monitoring, awareness-raising, and support for national and grassroots initiatives. It will require the political will at all levels to tackle issues across a broad spectrum of policies, together with the provision of the necessary institutions, tools and resources to put that resolve into action. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Human Rights

28-06-2019

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political ...

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political arena, human rights are now often rejected on ideological grounds. The EU itself has not been spared by the current backlash. In its Member States, a populist wave has empowered some political forces that increasingly question the significance of core human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression. In these troubled times for human rights, opinion polls show that European citizens perceive human rights as one of the most important values for them personally and one of the values that best represent the EU itself. Having emerged from World War II and its atrocities, European countries were determined to secure lasting peace, and the Union they created is founded on respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights, which guide and shape its legislation and policies. Within the EU, recent action has included new legislation on data protection and access to justice, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and initiatives to combat inequality, discrimination and hate speech. There is also an acknowledgement that more needs to be done to complete the legal framework to combat discrimination and strengthen internal mechanisms for upholding the rule of law. Human rights are additionally a general objective of EU external action. The EU is deeply committed to promoting human rights, as enshrined in international treaties, in its relations with third countries and with other multilateral regional and global institutions. During Parliament's last mandate, the EU consistently applied and deepened a range of policy approaches that strengthen its role and image as a normative power that inspires others through its example. Maintaining and consolidating this policy remains vital for preserving the EU's image and credibility as a normative power based on values, and one that has the capacity to act at a time when the principle of multilateralism is increasingly questioned. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union

16-05-2019

The prohibition of discrimination, and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of the provisions dealing with this issue is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare ...

The prohibition of discrimination, and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of the provisions dealing with this issue is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education and access to goods and services, leaving LGBTI people particularly vulnerable in these areas. Moreover, EU competence does not extend to recognition of marital or family status. In this area, national regulations vary, with some Member States offering same-sex couples the right to marry, others allowing alternative forms of registration, and yet others not providing any legal status for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples may or may not have the right to adopt children and to access assisted reproduction. These divergent legal statuses have implications, for instance, for partners from two Member States with different standards who want to formalise/legalise their relationship, or for same-sex couples and their families wishing to move to another Member State. Combating discrimination has become part of EU internal and external policies, and the subject of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament. However, action in this area remains problematic when it touches on issues pertaining to areas traditionally reserved to Member States, such as marital status and family law. This is a further updated version of a Briefing originally drafted by Piotr Bakowski. The previous edition was published in June 2018.

Women in politics in the EU: State of play

01-03-2019

Exactly one hundred years after women won the vote or were first elected to parliament in some EU countries, the data show that women continue to be under-represented in politics and public life, in the European Parliament, national parliaments and governments, and local assemblies. The arguments for gender balance in politics are numerous, and benefit not only women and female politicians, but also parties themselves and the rest of society. After all, women form half the population and need to ...

Exactly one hundred years after women won the vote or were first elected to parliament in some EU countries, the data show that women continue to be under-represented in politics and public life, in the European Parliament, national parliaments and governments, and local assemblies. The arguments for gender balance in politics are numerous, and benefit not only women and female politicians, but also parties themselves and the rest of society. After all, women form half the population and need to be better represented in power structures. However, there is now solid evidence both of obstacles and of the strategies that are effective when it comes to increasing women's participation and representation. Here, political parties and the media can be both barriers and important enablers. The EU has committed to achieving a gender balance in political representation and participation as a matter of justice, equality and democracy. Concrete recommendations have been made for achieving this goal, including specific action that could be taken by the EU institutions, national governments, political parties, civil society and the media. In the run-up to the European elections in May 2019, new mandates in the Commission and European Council, and the end of the EU's current strategy for gender equality, there is a particular focus on how a better gender balance (at least 40 %) or gender parity (50 %), could be achieved in the next Parliament and for other high-level posts in the EU institutions, and how the EU and its Member States can move towards true parity democracy.

Zero tolerance for female genital mutilation

05-02-2019

The European Union is committed to working collectively to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of broader efforts to combat all forms of violence against women and girls, and to support the efforts of its Member States in this field. The European Commission has undertaken to assess EU efforts to combat FGM every year, on or around the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February. This publication is a further update of an 'at a glance' note originally ...

The European Union is committed to working collectively to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of broader efforts to combat all forms of violence against women and girls, and to support the efforts of its Member States in this field. The European Commission has undertaken to assess EU efforts to combat FGM every year, on or around the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 6 February. This publication is a further update of an 'at a glance' note originally published in January 2015, PE 548.971.

Gender mainstreaming in the EU: State of play

10-01-2019

When the European Union endorsed 'gender mainstreaming' as its official policy approach to gender equality, it was seen as a potentially revolutionary means of accelerating progress and achieving real equality between the sexes. Two decades on, concerns remain about fragmented implementation across policy areas and institutions at EU and national levels. The European Parliament regularly assesses its own progress in this area, and a FEMM committee report on gender mainstreaming in Parliament is scheduled ...

When the European Union endorsed 'gender mainstreaming' as its official policy approach to gender equality, it was seen as a potentially revolutionary means of accelerating progress and achieving real equality between the sexes. Two decades on, concerns remain about fragmented implementation across policy areas and institutions at EU and national levels. The European Parliament regularly assesses its own progress in this area, and a FEMM committee report on gender mainstreaming in Parliament is scheduled for debate in plenary during January.

Situation of fundamental rights in the EU in 2017

10-01-2019

2017 was a year during which the EU saw both progress and setbacks in fundamental rights protection. For example, while the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights was a further step towards more equality, setbacks were encountered in the area of the independence of the judiciary, the work of civil society organisations and women’s rights. The Commission, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the Parliament regularly monitor the situation of fundamental rights in the EU. A LIBE committee ...

2017 was a year during which the EU saw both progress and setbacks in fundamental rights protection. For example, while the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights was a further step towards more equality, setbacks were encountered in the area of the independence of the judiciary, the work of civil society organisations and women’s rights. The Commission, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the Parliament regularly monitor the situation of fundamental rights in the EU. A LIBE committee report on the situation of fundamental rights in 2017 is scheduled for debate in plenary during January.

The Istanbul Convention: A tool to tackle violence against women and girls

23-11-2018

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) is the first instrument in Europe to set legally binding standards specifically to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence and punish perpetrators. Following the EU's signing of the Convention in June 2017, the European Parliament's consent is required for the EU's accession to the Convention. Pending Council's formal request for that consent, Parliament ...

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) is the first instrument in Europe to set legally binding standards specifically to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence and punish perpetrators. Following the EU's signing of the Convention in June 2017, the European Parliament's consent is required for the EU's accession to the Convention. Pending Council's formal request for that consent, Parliament adopted an interim resolution in September 2017 and reviewed progress towards EU accession in June 2018. This is an updated edition of an EPRS 'at a glance' note published in November 2017, PE 608.671.

Violence against women in the EU: State of play

23-11-2018

Violence against women is a violation of human rights and a form of gender-based discrimination. Rooted in inequalities between men and women, it takes many forms. Estimates about the scale of the problem are alarming. Such violence has a major impact on victims and imposes a significant cost burden on society. The instruments put in place by the United Nations and Council of Europe, including the latter’s 'Istanbul Convention', to which the EU plans to accede, are benchmarks in efforts to combat ...

Violence against women is a violation of human rights and a form of gender-based discrimination. Rooted in inequalities between men and women, it takes many forms. Estimates about the scale of the problem are alarming. Such violence has a major impact on victims and imposes a significant cost burden on society. The instruments put in place by the United Nations and Council of Europe, including the latter’s 'Istanbul Convention', to which the EU plans to accede, are benchmarks in efforts to combat violence against women. The EU is tackling the problem in various ways, but has no binding instrument designed specifically to protect women from violence. Although there are similarities between national policies to combat violence against women, the Member States have adopted different approaches to the problem. Parliament's efforts have focused on strengthening EU policy in the area. Parliament has repeatedly called for a European Union strategy to counter violence against women, including a legally binding instrument. Stakeholders have expressed a range of concerns, such as the impact of the current economic climate on the prevalence of violence and funding for prevention and support for victims, and have highlighted the need for a comprehensive EU political framework on eliminating violence against women. They have also launched new initiatives of their own. This is a further update of an earlier briefing by Anna Dimitrova-Stull, of February 2014. The most recent previous edition was from November 2017.

The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union

12-06-2018

The prohibition of discrimination and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of these provisions is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education and ...

The prohibition of discrimination and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of these provisions is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education and access to goods and services, leaving LGBTI people particularly vulnerable in these areas. Moreover, EU competence does not extend to recognition of marital or family status. In this area, national regulations vary, with some Member States offering same-sex couples the right to marry, others allowing alternative forms of registration, and yet others not providing any legal status for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples may or may not have the right to adopt children and to access assisted reproduction. These divergent legal statuses have implications, for instance, for partners from two Member States with different standards who want to formalise/legalise their relationship or for same-sex couples and their families wishing to move to another Member State. Combating discrimination has become part of EU internal and external policies, and the subject of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament. However, action in this area remains problematic when it touches on issues pertaining to areas traditionally reserved to Member States, such as marital status and family law. This is a further updated version of a Briefing originally drafted by Piotr Bakowski. The previous edition was published in May 2017.

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