Meeting our full potential
With the demographic challenges that we face today, we have to empower and use the potential of all members of diverse societies. There must be the same opportunities for all who share the same aspirations, and this has been one of the main priorities of the von der Leyen Commission. Building a gender equal world is also a key objective integrated into the EU’s external actions.
Equality between women and men is a fundamental value of the EU. Ten years after the Commission first proposed a directive to improve the gender balance on company boards, the co-legislators reached an agreement, thanks to a renewed effort by the von der Leyen Commission. Additionally, the Horizon Europe programme launched the women techEU pilot project to put women at the forefront of deep tech.
Equal pay for equal work
Pay discrimination at work remains a problem. The Commission therefore presented, in March 2021, a proposal for a directive to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work through pay transparency and enforcement mechanisms.
Gender-based violence remains a terrifying reality for too many women in the EU. In March 2022, the Commission proposed EU-wide rules to end gender-based violence against women and domestic violence. The proposed directive will criminalise both rape based on lack of consent and female genital mutilation. It will also criminalise cyber violence based on sex and gender.
Achieving an inclusive society
The European Commission is committed to a pluralistic, gender-equal and inclusive society, where LGBTIQ+ people, minorities or people with disabilities are treated equally. A dedicated Task Force on Equality works to mainstream equality in all policy areas. The Commission is working with Member States to develop, adopt and implement national LGBTIQ+ and anti-racism action plans. As the guardian of the treaties, the Commission does not hesitate to initiate infringement procedures against violations of fundamental rights, as has been the case, for instance, in relation to violations against the LGBTIQ+ community in Hungary and Poland.
- October 2021Fighting antisemitism
The EU strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life sets out a series of measures to step up the fight against all forms of antisemitism – but also, for the first time ever, to promote Jewish heritage and culture and fight antisemitism beyond the EU. The Member States are now developing national action plans, which will be developed by the end of 2022.
- December 2021Criminalising hate speech and hate crime
The Commission took the first steps towards extending the list of EU crimes to include hate speech and hate crime.
- March and April 2022Implementing LGBTIQ+ and anti-racism plans
The Commission issued guidelines on developing, adopting and implementing national anti-racism and LGBTIQ+ plans respectively.
The European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity Award was presented for the first time in April 2022, to recognise the work done by towns, cities and regions in Europe to promote inclusion and create societies free of discrimination and hate.
The Disability Platform provides another setting that enables relevant stakeholders to share experiences and good practices, learn from each other and collaborate.
Anna Ohnweiler is one of the founders of “Omas gegen rechts” (grannies against extremism), fighting against antisemitism, racism and misogyny.
Supporting children across the EU
Combatting child sexual abuse
- In May 2022, the Commission proposed new EU legislation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse online. The proposed EU rules will oblige service providers to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse material.
- A new independent EU Centre on Child Sexual Abuse will work closely with national law enforcement authorities, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and support groups to rescue and empower survivors and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Better internet for kids
- In 2022, the Commission also adopted a new European strategy for a better internet for kids.
- Rules on removing terrorist content online also entered into force.
- The European child guarantee provides guidance and the means for Member States to support children in need by guaranteeing their access to education, extracurricular activities, healthy school meals and healthcare.
- In 2022, the Commission helped 10 Member States to make their education systems more inclusive by supporting the inclusion of children with disabilities or children from migrant or vulnerable backgrounds.
- Since the war in Ukraine started, more than 2 million Ukrainian children have sought shelter in the European Union. These children have the same rights and protection as children who are EU citizens. It has been heart-warming to see them welcomed into schools across the Member States.
Kiril Slavov, a deaf young Bulgarian who grew up in Stockholm, helps deaf Ukrainians flee the war and restart their lives in Sofia. He assists them by translating into international sign language, and helps them find work.