EWL policy brief: EU funds must mirror women’s equality

[Brussels, 29 June] On 27 May 2020, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, presented at the European Parliament, a proposal for a €750 billion recovery instrument, “Next Generation EU”, which will be embedded in the next long-term €1.1 trillion EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027).

These funds to “Repair and Prepare” intend to tackle the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 and drive the EU towards a green and digital future (see EWL’s policy brief “Women must not pay the price of COVID-19!”. EWL welcomes some aspects of the proposal, including funds addressing unemployment, providing greater support to SMEs and the tourism industry and establishing a new health programme.

However, more work is needed to ensure equality between women and men is at the centre of a truly robust recovery plan and long-term budget. EWL is concerned at the lack of women’s perspectives across the EU recovery plans and the lack of targeted measures to address women’s care work, increased cases of male violence against women.

We are also deeply concerned to see in the proposal the 20% cuts made to the Justice, Rights and Values Fund.** This is the only fund dedicated towards the objectives set out in the Commission’s Gender Equality Strategy and the commitments to EU fundamental values outlined in the EU Treaties: advancing equality between women and men, eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, and providing resources to civil society organisations. Cuts to funds are also contrary to the demands in the #HalfOfIt petition initiated by MEP Alexandra Geese (Greens/EFA) (read more here).

EWL is also worried to see proposed 45% of cuts made to certain decentralised agencies working to advancing EU cohesion policies and values. Among these agencies include the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), whose expertise on gender mainstreaming, sex-disaggregated data including the Gender Equality Index, and key research pieces are central to our work.

In response to this, EWL have developed a policy brief highlighting our key demands. The EU’s recovery plans and long-term budget must be in line with protecting EU fundamental values and address the inequalities of women and girls made worse by COVID-19.

We are urgently calling on the political commitments of EU decision-makers and EU Member States to remedy our below concerns:

  1. Increase funds to the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme to €1.83 billion in current prices.
  2. Increase investments to eliminating male violence against women and girls to address the increase in cases during COVID-19 and to fully resource women’s civil society organisations.
  3. Increase investments to sustain EIGE’s independent work on advancing equality between women and men and ensure EIGE is not impacted by the 45% cuts to decentralised agencies.
  4. Ensure a gender perspective across all funding areas and adopt a gender budgeting lens across all programmes, including targeted objectives, indicators, benchmarks and budgets.

Read our policy brief here!

** Update as of 10 July 2020: The Commission have now released their Statement of Estimates of the European Commission for the Financial Year 2021, which contains a readjusted breakdown of funds. The 20% cuts to the Rights and Values programme have been reverted to €638 million (current prices), similar to what was proposed in 2018 (see page 103). This is a great win which we are very proud to have participated to, with our members and partners in Brussels!

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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