On December 16, at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) the FTTUB president Ekaterina Yordanova, vice president of the ETUC Women’s Committee, took the floor to present to her colleagues the difficulties that the European Parliament (EP), the Council of Ministers, trade unions and civil society organizations from across Europe suddenly faced, expecting from the European Commission (EC) a new Strategy for gender equality. The present one expires at the end of the year. EC insists to address the issue of inequality through a staff working document.
On June the 9th, the European Parliament voted a resolution in favor of the elaboration of a new, stronger and result oriented Strategy.
In June, 22 ministers of MS across EU signed a letter to the EC in favor of a new Strategy. Many of them were pushed by the Trade Unions at national level.
In July, 90% of the participants in the public consultation on the issue, (including the ETUC) replied in the same way.
In November the ETUC affiliates were alerted by the ETUC Secretariat that the European Commission was planning to put forward a staff working document only. That would enormously undermine the European efforts to achieve a harmonized higher level of gender equality. A sample letter was sent by the Confederal Secretary Montserrat Mir to be used by TUs to address their social ministers once again before the Council of EU meeting (EPSCO) on December 7.
Most of us did and the Conclusions of the EPSCO meeting were: calling on the European Commission to adopt a post 2015 Strategy for gender equality as a Communication. After the EP resolution, this was a second strong political signal in the same direction, this time from the Council.
Nevertheless, the Commission (Commissioner Jourova and VP Tiemmermans, in particular) insists to keep the level of the document as a staff working document.
Ekaterina Yordanova called on ETUC to continue dialogue with the European Commission, together with the EP Commission on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.
On behalf of the Women’s Committee Ekaterina Yordanova thanked the Secretariat of the ETUC for their efforts and timely input. “Our reaction at national level, coordinated by ETUC, is crucial to stop the silent attempt for domination of the European Commission which should not become a dangerous precedent”, she said. She also thanked personally the new General Secretary Luca Visentini for his open commitment to the gender equality issue which he had declared before his election the 13th Congress of ETUC this autumn. “It makes ETUC women confident of our future and of our success despite the challenges we are facing” Ms Yordanova said.
At the end, she congratulated the newly elected gender balanced PERK leadership and wished them a successful mandate, involving ongoing efforts to keep all their activities well gender mainstreamed.