EWL News

Some questions for Mr. José Manuel Barroso from the EWL

(Brussels, 19 September, 2013) The EWL submitted some questions to be asked following the State of the Union Address by President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. He delivered the fourth "State of the Union Address" on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at the European Parliament. The speech was followed by a debate in plenary with the leaders of the political groups and other members of the European Parliament and questions could be submitted through social media.

Though there were considerable efforts expanded into creating an ’event’ - the ’State of the Union’ speech delivered to the Strasbourg plenary session after the summer break may have concentrated some minds in the hemicycle, it didn’t light up many users of social media outside of a select group of professionals. However, we feel that our questions deserve answers, particularly as we grapple with the onset of elections and recalibrating of political priorities for the next five years.

  1. You mentioned that women’s rights are among the EU’s indispensable values, which we welcome very much. However, our members are very concerned that women’s rights and gender equality are rolling back in the mist of the crisis and recent proposals, including amending the maternity leave directive, is being put on the back burner. Furthermore, gender equality does not appear in the priorities of the Commission’s work programme for the remainder of 2013 and the first half of 2014. How will you ensure for the remainder of your mandate, that gender equality is given prominence in the forthcoming months so that women’s rights and gender equality will continue to be a core value of the EU?
  2. In your address to the European Parliament, you stress that jobs and growth must remain priorities for the EU. This must include women and men being facilitated to reconcile their caring and professional responsibilities (for children, the elderly and dependents), can you confirm that 2014 will be dedicated to the European Year on Reconciling Professional and Family life?
  3. The average gender pension gap in the EU is 39% - more than double the average gender pay gap (16.2%), which means that women are more at risk of poverty as they age. Can you confirm that the gender discrimination in pensions will be addressed in the Annual Growth Survey and subsequent country-specific-recommendations that will be issued to Member States in 2014? Can you confirm that all Member States will also be issued with country-specific recommendations to address the gender pay gap?
  4. Violence against women is a violation of women’s human rights preventing women from living a dignified life. Will you commit to putting in place a European strategy on violence against women before the end of your mandate?
  5. As your mandate draws to a close what further action do you plan to take to ensure 50/50 representation of women and men in political decision making across Europe? We appreciate the Commission’s lead in the proposed directive to promote gender balance on company boards - women’s involvement in business and economic decision-making - what further action do you foresee to ensure that women’s greater participation in decision-making is ensured before May 2014?

Unfortunately none of the lobby’s questions were selected to be aired in the discussion.

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