[Brussels, 17 December 2020] Last night, the European Parliament formally rubberstamped the political agreement reached with the European Council on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027, including the EU’s €750 billion recovery instrument Next Generation EU. The EWL welcomes this long awaited decision after more than two years of negotiations amidst the increasing challenges to women’s rights by COVID-19 and across Europe.
This is an important win for women and girls in many regards. In-line with our advocacy calls,the EWL welcomes the top-ups of €800 million made to the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme which is the source of financing for many women’s organisations and programmes to combat violence against women and girls in the EU: its amount has been more than doubled to €1.6 billion!
It is now crucial that the distribution of these funds addresses the situation women’s organisations are reporting on the ground, including the increase of male violence against women during COVID-19. To do so, we call for this programme to benefit primarily civil society organisations (up to 50%), to be invested to fight violence against women and girls within the Daphne strand (up to at least 40%) and to be protected to finance the sub-strand on Gender equality (up to at least 15%).
The EWL is pleased to also see in the interinstitutional agreement the inclusion of gender mainstreaming as a horizontal priority of the MFF, including the ‘design of a methodology to measure gender expenditure’ (i.e. gender impact assessments). However, this is to be implemented from 2023 the latest, and for ‘centrally managed programmes’. We urge the EU to implement gender budgeting across all programmes of the MFF and NGEU without delay and in consultation with gender budgeting experts.
The EU and its Member States must also immediately ensure that the disbursal of EU funds is done in a way that consistently benefits women and men equally. At this important juncture, we continue to call for concerted action by the EU and its Member States to address the devastating impacts of COVID-19. Women have been at the forefront of this crisis, taking on the demands of increased care work. However, the EWL remains concerned at the lack of gender perspective in NGEU, as evident at the lack of targeted investments in the care sector.
EWL calls on the EU and Member States to establish a robust monitoring mechanism such as a Recovery and Gender Equality Advisory Body to ensure the recovery funds are distributed equally. Direct investments in NGEU must also go towards a Care Deal for Europe to complement the European Green Deal, to improve working conditions in the care sector and boost the creation of jobs.
Additionally, as EU Member States are putting together their National Recovery and Resilience Plans, it is critical that women’s civil society organisations are actively consulted, as per the European Commission’s guidelines, to ensure that women’s experiences during COVID-19 are accounted for.
Also, with the ongoing negotiations with regards to linking a rule of law conditionality mechanism to the EU budget, including the protection of EU fundamental rights, the EWL calls for equality between women and men as a core value in the EU Treaties to be made explicitly conditional when accessing EU funds.
Only by ensuring EU funding benefits all women and men equally, will the EU embark for a truly ambitious and inclusive recovery from COVID-19 in which no woman or girl is left behind.