6th Oct 2022

Centre-right MEPs abstain on gender-violence vote

Listen to article

Around 90 centre-right European People's Party (EPP) lawmakers abstained in a vote to list gender-based violence a crime under EU law.

Representing the European Parliament's largest political group, the abstaining EPP MEPs include leader Manfred Weber and European Parliament vice-presidents Roberta Metsola and Rainer Wieland - although almost as many EPP MEPs voted in favour.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Metsola and Wieland, however, had also voted against far-right amendments claiming gender violence is not a crime.

Despite the large-scale EPP abstentions, EU lawmakers on Thursday (16 September) still managed to adopt a demand for the European Commission to introduce "targeted legislation and policies to address all forms of violence and discrimination based on gender."

It also requested the commission list gender-based violence as a crime under the EU treaties - noting that one third of women in the EU have experienced violence with around 50 killed weekly. The final tally saw 427 votes in favour, 119 against, with 140 abstentions.

The result follows on from the state of the union speech earlier this week where European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced a new law to combat violence against women before the end of the year.

But it also comes on the back of rejected amendments, tabled by conservative and far-right MEPs, and largely supported by Polish conservatives and Hungarian right-wingers, seeking to ultimately ban abortions and strike off gender violence as a crime.

Authors of such amendments include Polish conservative MEPs Jadwiga Wiśniewska and Joachim Brudziński, Romanian conservative Cristian Terheşm, along with far-right Italian MEP Nicola Procaccini and Spanish Vox MEP Margarita de la Pisa Carrión.

In one amendment they said that the "alleged offence of gender-based violence" should not be listed as a crime - a view rejected by almost everyone including the centre-right EPP.

The same grouping had also sought to have abortion recognised as "the most severe form of violence", a proposal that attracted support from around a dozen EPP MEPs as well as Maltese socialist Alex Agius Saliba.

The support on such amendments from Polish nationalist-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party MEPs point to wider issues in Poland.

On Thursday, the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog Council of Europe, in a report said Poland is not doing enough to prevent and combat violence against women and girls.

It demanded, among other things, that Poland reform all sexual offences in the Penal Code to "fully incorporate the notion of freely-given consent and to ensure appropriate sanctions for all sexual acts without the consent of the victim".

In an emailed statement, Amnesty International's Monica Costa Riba said the Council of Europe report is a confirmation of "the government's deeply misogynistic attitudes" towards women and girls.

"The dangers they face are getting worse," she said.

Turkey formally exits treaty against gender violence

EU states Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia have not ratified the Istanbul Convention on women's rights, while Poland is on course to follow Turkey out of the accord.

Violence against women costs EU €290bn a year

The European Institute for Gender Equality has estimated that the annual cost of gender-based violence against women in the EU at €290bn. One-in-three women in the EU aged 15 or over has experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

Poland and Hungary battle to eradicate 'gender' in EU policies

The efforts by the two nationalist-conservative governments, which have both attacked LGBTIQ-rights and women' rights at home, is causing angst among several member states, who see it as a possible roll-back on gender rights.

EU tables hate-crime rules to protect women

The initiative is particularly aimed at protecting women and the LGBTIQ community as EU member states are already required to criminalise crimes committed with a racist or xenophobic motivation.


Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president

Looking at the historical record, a clear picture emerges: the president of the European Parliament is an above-middle aged white man, most likely German — and with an overwhelming likelyhood to be conservative or socialist.

MEPs condemn EU Commission 'leniency' on Hungary

MEPs criticised the EU Commission for what they see as the executive not being tough enough on the government of Viktor Orbán, as Hungary's parliament passed new legislation as part of a deal with the EU executive.


What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. Thousands of Hungarian students and teachers protest
  2. Swedish MEP cuts hair mid-speech to support Iran women
  3. Danish general election called for 1 November
  4. Slovenia legalises gay marriage, adoption
  5. Russia's stand-in EU ambassador reprimanded on Ukraine
  6. France warns over incoming eighth Covid wave
  7. EU adds Anguilla, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos to tax-haven blacklist
  8. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  2. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  4. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  5. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”

Latest News

  1. EU wants to see US list on Russia financing of politicians
  2. Putin's twin aim: to break Ukraine and West's consensus
  3. Putin's diamond firm off the hook in EU sanctions
  4. The Iranian regime's expiration date
  5. Let's end Bulgaria and Romania's 11-year Schengen purgatory
  6. EU debates new pandemic-type loans to deal with crisis
  7. MEPs condemn EU Commission 'leniency' on Hungary
  8. Czech EU presidency wants asylum pledges to be secret

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us