European & International News

The gender aspect of the priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency

[Brussels, 4 July] The Lithuanian Republic holds, for the first time in its history, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), under the leadership of its first female President, Dalia Grybauskait?. The recently announced priorities set by the Presidency can be summarized as aiming for a "credible, growing and open" Europe. In a more specific context, emphasis will be given on financial stability and growth, the strengthening of the external borders of the EU and the advancement of the Eastern Partnership, among others.

The EWL welcomes those priorities, which are indeed of extreme value if Europe is to combat effectively the economic and societal challenges it faces; challenges that in order to be addressed require a consistent and efficient cooperation between the national and the European level, a prerequisite mentioned by the Lithuanian President herself during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

During the same session, specific attention was paid to the necessity of immediate decision-making since people have been subjected to the negative effects of the austerity measures implemented throughout the EU for over five years. But as the findings of "The price of austerity – the impact on women’s rights and gender equality in Europe"
suggest, although men and women are both severely hit by the crisis, the latter experience it to a much greater extent for a variety of reasons, for instance due to the nature of the implemented reforms (e.g. cutting public sector jobs that represent a professional domain in which women are better represented). With that in mind, in order to pursue sustainable, long-lasting growth, the gender aspect of the policies should not only not be neglected, but emphasized.

The same logic applies to other priority issues as well. As Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, mentioned, the issue of border controls is of a high significance not only because of matters related to trade and economics, but also to immigration and trafficking in human beings. The EU is a core destination region for trafficked persons, who, at large, are constituted of women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation and, thus, a policy addressing border controls without putting victims of trafficking high in the agenda is to be inefficient, ineffective and against national, European and international legislation(e.g. Council Decisions 2006/618/EC and 2006/619/EC). The Eastern Partnership, by being a priority as well, presents an opportunity for coordinated action to address issues of common interest, such as trafficking in persons, between the EU and its Eastern neighbors.

The EWL congratulates the Lithuanian Presidency and hopes for a productive and fruitful term that will reach the expectations of the Presidency itself and the EU as a whole.

For more information on the Lithuanian Presidency, you can find the official website here.

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