The European Commission refuses a Directive on Combatting Violence against Women

Labour Party

This blog can today reveal that the European Commission will not now be introducing the long-awaited Directive to Combat Violence against Women. The European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (Femm) Committee has championed such a Directive for several years, and the Parliament itself adopted a resolution calling for the directive almost unanimously in April this year.

During a seminar on EU action to end violence against women, hosted by FEMM chair Mikael Gustafsson, a representative from the Commission explicitly put forward that there were no plans for a directive in the near future. 

The representative suggested that this was because the EU lacked the competence to put forward such a Directive and said there was no real legal basis for it.  You may be interested to know that the excuse of no legal basis is sometimes used when there is a lack of motivation to act on a subject. 

Violence against women is an attack on basic human rights. As far as I am aware the Charter of Fundamental rights, which came into force in 2009, protects the human rights of all European citizens regardless of gender.   

I struggle to understand, that when 98% of European Citizens have said they are aware of the phenomenon of domestic violence why there remains a lack of political will at the top to bring it to an end! 

The spokesperson of Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) drew parallels with the old argument of the “private” nature of domestic violence. This was a time before people fully grasped the insidious effect that this crime has throughout society and didn’t see the need for it to be dealt with in the public sphere. 

This blow comes on top of the changes to the excellent Daphne programme, a key instrument in bringing an end to violence against women, which I recently spoke about

The Commission seems to believe that stopping violence against women is too insignificant to deserve a programme of its own. 

If Commissioner Reding’s proposals for the future financial programme are agreed in the Parliament and the Council, the six core elements that make up Daphne will be merged. Some actions will fall under the umbrella of Rights and Citizenship whilst the others will come under the heading of Justice. 

One NGO has suggested that these changes could lead to budget cuts equivalent to 16% of the already under funded programme in EU action on combatting violence against women. 

It appears to me that whilst the citizens of Europe are becoming increasingly enlightened about the damage caused by violence against women, those at the top are looking away at the very moment when they need to be taking action.