Veranstaltungen: Dokumentation

13.3.2003

Economic and Social Governance in the European Union

Question by the organisers of the Conference "Is the EU on the road to a common European 'social area'. What are the connections between gender equality and a 'European social policy'?"

Maria Stratigaki

My intervention in the Workshop will be based on the two Opinions on the European Convention produced by the Advisory Committee, as well as on personal experiences by working in the European Commission for the design and implementation of EU policies on Gender Equality from 1991 to1999.

Question by the organisers of the Conference
"Is the EU on the road to a common European "social area". What are the connections between gender equality and a "European social policy"?

Quick response
Yes, EU is actually on the road to a common European "social area" but unfortunately, the road is too long!. After the Treaty of Amsterdam, there has been only a very small "real" progress in the social field. It is worthwhile to mention the Directives (on Article 13), as well as, the European Employment Strategy, although the latest is not binding. Debates, at the European Convention, were discouraging with relation to the promotion of "Social Europe". The working party on social aspects was established only very late, as a result of the active mobilisation of NGO´ s at the European level. The inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights seems to be the most progressive provision to be incorporated in the forthcoming Constitutional Treaty. No procedure is foreseen for the amelioration of the Charter at the EU standards, in areas where its provisions stay behind the Community "acquis" (like in the field of gender equality).

Gender equality and the "European social policy", are certainly connected but gender equality expends beyond the boundaries of social policy. According to EU official policy texts, and some practice, according to Article 3 of the Treaty of Amsterdam, gender should be integrated in all Community policies (gender mainstreaming).

Question by the organisers of the Conference
In order to be able to implement effectively the principle "equal opportunity for men and women:", the system of Gender Budgeting could be introduced at all levels of financing of the EU.

Quick response
Yes, gender budgeting is the implementation of gender mainstreaming in public budgetary policies. Real equal opportunity for women and men cannot be achieved, if policy objectives, measures and actions are not supported by appropriate budgeting. Changes in mentality and stereotypes concerning gender roles would be accelerated, if new practices and behaviour correspond to new gender division of tax and income, as well as of access to social infrastructure and provisions. EU has already responded to some concerns about gender in budgeting co-operation and development, research and structural policies. This was a result of initiatives by the European Parliament (Women´s Rights Committee) and intensive lobbying by European women´s NGOs. However, it is striking to notice how much easier is for policy makers to implement gender budgeting procedures in the Development Aid than in EU Member States!.


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