Equal opportunities for women and men in the European Union


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Annual Report 1998
Social policy
Fundamental rights



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Equal opportunities
for women and men in the European Union
Annual Report 1998
Employment & social affairs
Equality between women and men
European Commission
Directorate-General for Employment, Industrial Relations and Social Affairs
Manuscript completed in March 1999 The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of the European Commission,
Directorate-General for Employment, Industrial Relations and Social Affairs.
A short version of this report is available free of charge in 11 languages from the Representation of the
Commission in your Member State.
A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet. It can be accessed
through the Europa server (http://europa.eu.int).
Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication.
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1999
ISBN 92-828-6434-0
© European Communities, 1999
Reproduction is authorised, provided the source is acknowledged.
Printed in Belgium
Equal opportunities for women and men in the European Union
Annual Report 1998
(Report adopted by the European Commission on 5 March 1999 (COM(99) 106 final)
This third Annual Report by the European Commission on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European
Union presents an overview of the main developments and trends in equal opportunities policies at European and national
levelin 1998.
The Report aims to raise the profile of Community equal opportunities policy and to stimulate debate on progress achieved
and policies to be pursued. It is intended for a very wide readership, including in particular specialists in the fields of equal
opportunities and employment policies, social affairs, education and structural policies at European, national, regional and
local level. It also constitutes a fundamental tool for members of the European Parliament, the social partners, the stall of
equal opportunities bodies, experts and all individuals who contribute to the debate on equal opportunities.
The Treaty of Amsterdam aims to eliminate inequality between women and men and to promote equal opportunities in
all European Union activities; it thus formalises the notion of mainstreaming (integration of equal opportunities into all pol­
icy areas). As readers will note, equal opportunities for women and men took its place at the top of the European political
agenda in 1998. The two-pronged strategy deployed - combining the promotion of mainstreaming in all policy areas and the
development of specific measures for women - produced tangible results throughout the year.
In 1998, prompted by the Group of Commissioners on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men chaired by President
Santer, the Commission continued and consolidated its strategy for assessing all policies and measures in general lor their gen­
der impact.
The European employment strategy is perhaps the best example of what mainstreaming really means and I welcome the
mainstreaming of equal opportunities for the first time in all the pillars of the employment guidelines adopted by the Member
States for 1999.
One area where further efforts are needed is the promotion of women to senior posts and in decision-making, particular­
ly in political decision-making; this strategic objective has been recognised by the Member States and at the Social Affairs
Council of 2 December 1998, they undertook to press on towards gender balance in political; this under­
taking endorses and reinforces the political commitment of the European institutions to that same objective.
I firmly believe that 1999 will bring even better results, especially with the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, the
adoption of the new Structural Fund Regulations, the strengthening of the Luxembourg process and the work of the
European Council on the Employment Pact.
Equality between women and men is part of the Community patrimony and the 1998 Report includes for the first time a
section on equal opportunities in the applicant countries, as recommended by the European Parliament.
I would like to offer my warmest thanks to all those who have helped to prepare this Report, above all the members of the
Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.
Padraig Flynn I\U I 11\ I SUMMARY
long-term economic success, will depend, even
more than in the past, on the increased participa­
tion of women in the labour market. Member
States must create the conditions that will enable
the European economy and the European work­
place to benefit fully from the creativity, talents
1998 was the year when equality between
and skills of women and to enable both men and
women and men took its place at the top of
women to have greater balance in their working
Europe's political agenda. This - the third Annual
and family lives.
Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and
Men in the European Union1- presents the devel­
opments and achievements in 1998 and flags up Maiiistreaming in other policy
the issues which will be important in 1999 and as
the new century approaches.
Mainstreaming as a tool and an objective is not
limited to the employment strategy; the essential
Mainstreaming in the Treaty
principle of mainstreaming is that all areas ol pol
icy formulation must be subjected to gender The Treaty of Amsterdam specifically identifies
assessment. The report, thus, examines the signif­the elimination of inequality between women
and men and the promotion of equality in all the icant progress made in 1998 on equality in a
number of different and varied policy areas: EU's activities as among its fundamental aims.
development co-operation, youth, education and This Treaty thus formalises the concept of main-
training, the 5th framework programme on streaming equal opportunities in all other policy
research and development. Special mention in areas. The agreement to strengthen and main­
stream equal opportunities policies at European this area is made to the proposed reform of the
Structural Funds, with its emphasis on the dual level has been a major factor in raising the politi­
strategy: specific action and mainstreaming. cal profile of women's right to equality in 1998.
The report tracks the growing importance of
mainstreaming as a political instrument.
Balanced participation in
dec is io η - making
Mainstreaming in the
The objective of a balanced participation of
Employment strategy
women and men in decision-making is a key area
The European employment strategy is perhaps as regards equal opportunities. The undcr-rcprc-
the best example of what mainstreaming equality sentation of women ing can be
will mean in practice for policy formulation. The seen as undermining the practical impact of
mainstreaming in that it militates against the Treaty made employment a matter of common
European concern. The Luxembourg Jobs integration of women's needs and interests across
Summit committed the 15 Member States to a the full spectrum of political, social, cultural and
co-ordinated policy for employment and identi­ economic life.
fied a gender gap of 25 million jobs - 25 million
fewer women than men employed - in the
Equal opportunities and
Member States as one of the main problems. This
report examines in detail the implications of two cndargenieut
of the main conclusions of the Vienna Summit in
The process towards enlargement of the union
December 1998 that "employment is the top pri­
is one of its greatest challenges in the near future.
ority of the European Union" and that equal
In the light of this, the 1998 report devotes, for
opportunities for women and men are a vital
the first time, a full section to the issue of equal
component of the whole employment strategy.
opportunities between women and men in the
Thus, equal opportunities and employment are candidate countries.
now inextricably linked; equal opportunities is
now both a matter of social justice and of good
1 In the context of co-operation within the Agreement of
economics. In the next ten years Europe's work­
the Huropcan Kconomic Area, some information about
ing age population will begin to shrink in terms
Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein has been added where
of numbers. Employment growth, so vital to our appropriate. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
al opportunities policies ¡999
Much has been achieved in the field of equal
opportunities. 1998 can be seen as a year of con­
solidation, of reflection and of forward planning.
The report concludes that the dual strategy for
equality - combining mainstreaming in all polity
areas with activity that focuses specifically on
women - produced tangible results over the
course of the year. 1999 promises results that are
even more telling. We can expect the ratification
of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the adoption of new
regulations for the Structural Funds, the deepen­
ing of the Luxembourg process and the European
Council's plans for a European Employment
Pact, the preparations for the review of Beijing
Platform of Action in the year 2000. These are
events to come in 1999 which can be expected to
bring yet more change to the architecture of the
Union's equality policies.