Co-rapporteurs on the Istanbul Convention, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP, SV) and Christine Revault d'Allonnes-Bonnefoy (S&D, FR), expressed their concern on the public statement made on 7 December 2016 by the Polish Minister of Social Affairs, Labour and Family about the forthcoming renouncement of Poland’s commitment to the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women. They made the following statement:
“I am seriously concerned on a possible set-back in our common goal to eradicate violence against women, said co-rapporteur Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP, SV). “I want, therefore, to engage in an open and transparent dialogue with Poland and other member states on their reservations based on facts, rather than on ideology. I call on the Commission to immediately initiate this process in coordination with the Council of Europe. The definition of gender based violence in the Convention is clear: it is violence done to women just because they are women or that affects women more than men. We are talking about horrible crimes, domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, honour killing, female genital mutilation and child marriage.
To consider that the Istanbul Convention is against our traditional religious values and culture is a false interpretation, even according to the experts of the Council of Europe. How could punishing criminals and protecting victims be against our Christian values? On the contrary, the Convention is a tool that Poland can benefit from to prevent and combat violence against women and girls. I call, therefore, on the Polish government to reconsider its intention to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention and to instead support the EU accession to the Convention”, Corazza Bildt concluded.
"I am outraged by the Polish public statement to denounce the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combatting Violence Against Women. After having tried to restrict the right of abortion, we are witnessing a new intolerable attack against women's rights and the rule of law in Poland”, said co- rapporteur Christine Revault d'Allonnes-Bonnefoy (S&D, FR).
“Women's rights, and by extension human rights, cannot be negotiated as it is today in Poland. The European Union is built on fundamental values and I am deeply concerned to see one of our member states trying to question these core values. Now, the EU must act. Besides being assertive with Poland to respect the rule of law, I call on the EU to quickly sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention so that all member states will be, de facto, full members. It is not only the right move to do but the only one to ensure that women are still protected in Poland. Once again, I remind you that fundamental rights are still a priority, added Christine Revault d'Allonnes-Bonnefoy.
The European Parliament adopted on 24 November 2016 its resolution on the EU ratification of this instrument calling on Member States which have not yet done so to ratify the Istanbul Convention. They also ask all member states “to ensure proper enforcement of the Convention and adequate financial and human resources to prevent and combat violence against women”.
On 4 March 2016, the Commission proposed that the EU should join the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding international instrument for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. All EU member states have signed it, but only fourteen* of them have ratified it.
The Council of Europe Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive international treaty on combating violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention was adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011 and entered into force in August 2014.
* Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden have ratified the Istanbul Convention