5th Dec 2023


Binding measures to expand gender balance

  • Chairwoman Evelyn Regner (S&D, Austria) wants concrete action on gender balance from the women's rights and gender equality committee (Photo: European Parliament)

There is a need to expand gender balance in the political and economic sphere, and this can only be achieved by binding measures, the chair of the commintee on women's rights and gender equality, Austrian MEP Evelyn Regner told EUobserver.

"The time for well-intentioned but ineffective declarations of intent has to be over. It's time that women are finally financial independent, because many other forms of inequality derive from not being independent," the social democrat politician said.

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

"It is precisely in dependency-relationships that a dramatic gap in power and representation manifests itself," she added.

According to figures from the EU's statistics agency, Eurostat, there are considerable differences between EU countries.

The gender pay gap ranging from less than eight percent in Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia to more than 20 percent in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia and the UK.

Regner said an understanding must be established that "real equality requires action in all political areas: in short, gender mainstreaming".

It means that all policy concepts or planned actions should be assessed at all stages by how it effects different genders. The EU treaty commits to eliminating inequalities and promoting the principle of equality between women and men.

The gender mainstreaming amendments have allowed the women's rights and gender equality committee (FEMM) to introduce a gender perspective into the reports of other committees on specific issues.

"We will take concrete action regarding income equality, work-life balance and the fight against violence against women," Regner added.

In the next five years the priority will be producing more, and binding, measures to promote gender equality.

"We must achieve a binding EU gender equality strategy," Regner said, pointing to a recently published equality index by the European Institute for Gender Equality.

The report said that the EU continues at a snail's pace when it comes to gender equality progress.

The report said that Sweden continues to top the EU scoreboard for gender equality, followed by Denmark, and with Greece and Hungary having the most catching-up to do. The biggest improvement was achieved by Portugal and Estonia.

"We have a quite clear understanding of the existing layers of inequality reaching from the economic situation to political representation and the social situation of women in Europe," Regner said, referring to the report.

"The verdict is clear, we need to take more measures faster. The status quo in matters of equality is far from satisfactory," she said.

Regner expects that the most divisive issues will be all matters "touching upon sexual and reproductive rights of women", which show "a clear divide between member states and political groups".

"It shows that women's rights are at risk once again. What has been achieved can easily be lost again. In this regard, I want to strengthen the role of the European parliament as a guarantor of women's rights in Europe," she said.

Regner added that what often lies behind the regression is a misconception of what family means.

"They say 'father, mother, child - happily ever after'. But what these people actually want when they deny women free access to health care, instigate campaigns against education and contraception, and dismiss sexual violence as mere 'relationship problems', is to take control of women's lives and bodies," the MEP said.

Yet the world is so colourful, she added, saying there are many different ways of life. "And basically, that is what it's all about. That everyone is able to lead their lives without compulsion, pressure or fear", Regner added.

The chairwoman is Evelyn Regner (S&D, Austria), and the vice-chairs: Eugenia Rodriguez Palop (Spain, GUE/NGL), Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield (Greens/EFA, France), Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi (EPP, Greece), Robert Biedron (S&D, Poland).

Coordinators (to be confirmed): Frances Fitzgerald (EPP, Ireland), Maria Noichl (S&D, Germany), Irene Tolleret (Renew, France), Alice Kuhnke (Greens/EFA, Sweden), Christine Anderson (ID, Germany), Jadwiga Wisniewska (ECR, Poland), Sandra Pereira (GUE/NGL, Portugal).

This article first appeared in EUobserver's latest magazine, Who's Who in European Parliament Committees, which you can now read in full online.
Dalli promises to unblock women on boards directive

Malta's nominee for EU commissioner for the new equality portfolio, Helena Dalli, promised on Wednesday (2 October) an ambitious programme to fight all types of discrimination, stereotypes, and gender-related issues across Europe.


Tough questions for Dalli and Suica on gender rights

Helena Dall's biggest challenge as equality commissioner will be securing EU accession to the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, while Dubravka Suica as demography commissioner must reassure on abortion and contraceptives.

EU commission to map gender recognition

The European Commission will start looking at how EU states determine genders - as part of an effort to make it easier for people to determine their own identities.

Denmark falls behind in gender-equality ranking

Iceland remains the most gender-equal country in the world, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. But one Nordic country sticks out from its neighbours with few female lawmakers, senior officials and managers.


Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.


Which parties and countries chair the EP committees?

Although the European Parliament tries to keep a geopolitical balance within the committees, the breakdown of the actual chairs of the committees by political party and nationality is uneven - with a clear under-representation of central and eastern EU countries.

Latest News

  1. Afghanistan is a 'forever emergency,' says UN head
  2. EU public procurement reform 'ineffective', find auditors
  3. COP28 warned over-relying on carbon capture costs €27 trillion
  4. Optimising Alzheimer's disease health care pathways across Europe
  5. Georgian far-right leader laughs off potential EU sanctions
  6. The EU's U-turn on caged farm animals — explained
  7. EU-China summit and migration files in focus This WEEK
  8. COP28 debates climate finance amid inflated accounting 'mess'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us