European Parliament increases pressure on the European Commission to update their gender equality strategy

The European Commission must table a communication on a new strategy for gender equality and women’s rights 2016-2020 as soon as possible and deliver on its political commitments, Members of the European Parliament say in a recent resolution. It is the latest visible element of a discussion the two EU bodies have had for a while.

What to do on Gender Diversity and how to communicate it – also EU Politics are not aligned on this question. Since last year, a dispute has been going on between the European Parliament and the European Commission both behind the scenes and on stage. The European Parliament had first called for a new post-2015 strategy on gender equality and women’s rights in a resolution voted 9 June 2015. Since then, the Commission has presented a staff working document, which has no inter-institutional value, on a ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’, according to EP positions. This ‘downgraded’ document restricted the duration of the proposed action, MEPs note, who also deplore the lack of concrete benchmarks and a dedicated budget.


However, the European Parliament welcomes the fact that the Commission had published its ‘Roadmap: new start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families’, a package with legislative and non-legislative proposals, in August 2015, but regrets that the Council could not agree on a position regarding women on boards directive.


MEPs say that the previous Commission strategy (2010-2015) was not comprehensive enough to boost gender equality at European and international levels and that a new strategy should provide new impetus and deliver concrete action to strengthen women’s rights and promote gender equality. “A working document, which does not need to be approved by the College of Commissioners, does not deliver on the political commitments. It provides neither a dedicated budget nor concrete benchmarks and so it is not possible to evaluate the progress achieved on the objectives”, said Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee chair Ms Garcia Perez (S&D, ES) and continues: “The Commission has a clear responsibility to launch policies on equality between women and men and to address important issues such as violence against women, the gender pay gap, and the balance between personal and working life”. With regard to the clearly defined competences, Perez is wondering why the Commission did not adopt a new communication publicly and transparently designed to help deliver equality between women and men.


Experts also feel that in other areas of Diversity the Commission has not yet found a consistent and effective approach to contribute to the fast-moving agenda in this area, most notably in an employment and business setting.