Violence against women in the EU: State of play

Briefing 23-11-2022

Combating gender-based violence at EU level

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 of 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. As yet, it has no binding instrument designed specifically to protect women from violence. However, in March 2022, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. Although there are similarities between national policies to combat violence against women, the Member States have adopted different approaches. 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 highlighted the need for a comprehensive EU political framework on eliminating violence against women and issued recommendations on the Commission's proposed directive. They have also expressed a range of concerns, including regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the war on Ukraine and the related need to expand and adapt support for victims. This is a further update of an earlier briefing by Anna Dimitrova Stull, of February 2014. The most recent previous edition was from November 2021.