EWL News

Civil Society view regarding pending EU legislation 2014 – response to BusinessEurope

[Brussels, 5 December 2014] The European Women’s Lobby and 19 other gender equality and environmental organisations, including trade unions and consumer groups, call on the European Commission to ignore a hit list of proposals that business lobbyists want ditched by the new executive.

The undersigned organisations, representing diverse public interests, strongly oppose the worrying deregulatory tendency under the headline of ‘cutting red tape’. The open letter is a response to the statement issued by BusinessEurope on 25th November under the heading ‘Business input to the screening exercise by vice-president Timmermans’.

Find the Open Letter to First Vice-President of the European Comission Frans Timmermans here.

The European Women’s Lobby specifically reacted to claims made by Business Europe on the Women on Boards and Maternity Leave legislation. Read here EWL’s clarifications.

Gender balance in boards
The proposal should not be withdrawn but speeded up. Not only is parity in decision-making right because it is essential that the opinions, needs and wishes of women and men in their diversity are taken into account, but a huge range of studies have shown that gender balance in the boardroom has proven to be competitively and financially better for the company.

BusinessEurope opposes EU action to increase the proportion of women on non-executive boards in large listed companies. It claims that the proposed legislation and quotas ‘’disregard the highly diverse conditions in different sectors/companies and do not take into account the way corporate boards function and are renewed”. However, these are precisely the key reasons why the legislation is necessary in the first place.

Pregnant workers
The proposal should not be withdrawn but speeded up. The inadequate rights and low level of pay enjoyed by women during maternity leave currently represent a large driving factor of the gender pay gap (EU average is 16%), the gender pension gap (EU average is 40%), and low female participation in the labour market (EU average is 62%). Women in the European Union demand and deserve full pay throughout their leave (which should be at least 18 weeks) and without work-related conditionality.

Abandoning the Maternity Leave Directive will have serious negative consequences for pregnant workers across the European Union with direct impact on women’s contribution to the economy and on the future labour force.

Don’t axe gender and environment laws, NGOs tell Timmermans - article by Euractiv here.

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