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 Full text 
Monday, 11 September 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

EU accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (debate)

  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, rapporteur. – Mr President, I am really glad that we have actually reached a broad consensus across political groups. I thank Christine and all the other shadow rapporteurs. Together we are saying: stop violence against women. We share this common goal: this report is about achieving and increasing more, stronger tools. Our report is a wake-up call to the Member States to do more. The time has come to move from words to action.

Member States have to overcome their reservations and speed up the EU’s accession and ensure a broader scope, not only in terms of cooperation in justice and criminal law, asylum and non-refoulement. Some points raised by colleagues: cooperation in criminal law is an EU competence foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty. We already have tools at EU level to deal with serious crimes, trafficking, sexual abuse, protection of victims, and recently even the directive to combat terrorism. I would like to join the call to the Commission to propose a legislative act on violence against women as a way to strengthen our capabilities.

I also understand, colleagues, the concerns and the controversy surrounding the word ‘gender’. You know how much, throughout the process, I reached out with genuine goodwill to clarify, bridge the gap and leave no misunderstanding. A definition of gender-based violence, in the Commission, according to the Council of Europe, is ‘violence done to a woman or a girl, just because she is a woman or a girl.’ It is not an ideology; it has no hidden agenda; there is definitely nothing against Christian or family values. I do ask the Commission again to clarify, together with the Council of Europe, this misleading interpretation and engage in dialogue with the Member States on the issues that prevent the full ratification and implementation. And I fully support the work of the Council of Europe GREVIO, but they should speed it up.

My last point, Mr President, raised by colleagues, is the issue of migrants also having rights and duties, and having to respect our laws, and religious culture never being an excuse to oppress women. Respect for women should become a social norm, but we can never stigmatise migrants for violence in Europe. Women and girls on the move are actually victims of violence – the slavery of our time. Let us, colleagues, have a special focus on children and continue to put pressure on the Member States. The European Parliament and the EPP will continue to commit to zero tolerance against violence against women, and to keep it at the top of the EU agenda.

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