The Equality Strategy of the European Commission 2020-2025

EZA presents the central points.

EU Commissioner Helena Dalli (Photo: EC AV Portal)

The European Commission intends to achieve a strong Union of equality and to establish an overarching policy through all initiatives of the European Union and its Member States. In this framework, Commissioner Helena Dalli launched the Equality Strategy 2020-2025 in March 2020 and more recently the LGBTIQ Strategy 2020-2025.

Commissioner Helena Dalli and her advisor Lesia Radelicki presented these plans at the EZA Kick-Off-Seminar on 19-20 November 2020. The seminar focused on inequality and exclusion mechanisms in the European labour market and was organised online by Euromf vzw and other Belgian partners.

Despite the fact that studies show gradual improvements, there is still a long way to go to achieve equal opportunities for all EU citizens. While gender gaps in education are increasingly being closed, gender gaps remain in employment, pay, care, power and pensions.

This puts an additional emphasis on the work of trade unions or social worker organisations. The European Commission (EC) is available as a partner.

The Commission stresses that gender equality is a fundamental value of the EU, a fundamental right and a key principle of the European pillar of social rights. It is also an essential condition for an innovative, competitive and prosperous European economy. The integration of a gender perspective in all EU policies and processes is essential to achieve this goal.

ILO Convention

To combat violence and harassment at work, the Commission will continue to encourage Member States to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on combating violence and harassment at work, implement existing EU legislation to protect workers from sexual harassment and raise awareness. As an employer, the Commission will adopt a new comprehensive legal framework with a range of both preventive and reactive measures against harassment at work.

Improving the work-life balance

"Improving the work-life balance of workers is one of the ways to tackle the gender gaps in the labour market", said Commissioner Dalli, "both parents must feel responsible and entitled when it comes to family care."
The Directive on reconciliation of professional and private life is already an important instrument. And the strategy will push for the crucial equal sharing of care responsibilities at home, the availability of childcare, social care and household services, especially for single parents.

The EC notes that gender stereotypes contribute strongly to the gender pay gap. The principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value has been enshrined in the Treaties and implemented in EU law since 1957. It ensures that legal remedies are available in case of discrimination. Nevertheless, women still earn less than men on average. The Commission will present binding measures on pay transparency by the end of 2020.

LGBTIQ are discriminated

The EC notes that, despite EU legislation in this area, LGBTIQ people in employment continue to experience discrimination at all stages of their careers. Many face barriers to finding fair and stable jobs in the first place, which can increase their risk of poverty, social exclusion and homelessness.

The Employment Equality Directive enshrines the right not to be discriminated against or harassed in the employment context on grounds of sexual orientation.

The Commission will ensure the strict application by Member States of the rights covered by the Employment Equality Directive and will report on the application of the Directive in 2021. The report will also examine whether Member States have followed the Commission's recommendation to consider the designation of an equality body to deal with discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation within the scope of the Directive.

By 2022, the Commission will present all the necessary resulting legislation, in particular on the role of equality bodies.
The Commission will lead by example as an employer and promote diversity management through the EU platform of the Charter of Diversity.
It will also promote the use of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) to improve the socio-economic position of the most marginalised LGBTIQ people and develop initiatives focusing on specific groups such as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and intersexual sub-groups.

Contact person in the EZA network

At EZA the IPEO (International Platform for Equal Opportunities) is the contact organisation. Its chairperson, Heidi Rabensteiner, encouraged representatives of EZA member organisations to join the platform at the launch seminar. Contact: info(at)afb.bz

(Mon Verrydt)