The General Assembly of the European Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), held on 20 May 2006 in Budapest, Hungary, has unanimously adopted the following: Resolution on EU Enlargement and Related Gender Equality Issues
Having regard to:
• The Community’s aim and horizontal positive obligation to eliminate inequalities and to actively promote equality between men and women as it is enshrined in Art. 3 (2) TEC
• The Commission’s Communication “Roadmap for equality between women and men for the Period 2006-2010 ” as it was published on 1 March 2006
• The Statement on the above Roadmap issued by EWLA in April 2006
• EWLA’s First Comments Regarding the Establishment of a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights dating from 25 April 2006
EWLA welcomes the Commission’s dedication to promote gender equality outside the EU by monitoring full compliance with the principle of equality between women and men in acceding candidate and potential candidate countries. It supports the Commission’s goal to set the monitoring of the transposition, implementation and enforcement of the EU gender equality acquis, as a priority for future enlargement processes.
EWLA welcomes the already noticeable rise of public awareness in gender equality issues in candidate countries as it is created by the obligation to transpose and implement EU legislation and the strengthening of NGOs actively promoting gender equality rights that goes along with the necessity of their stronger involvement in law-making and decision-making procedures.
EWLA welcomes the European Council Decision of 13 December 2003 to set up a Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and the efforts of the Austrian Presidency to finalize the legal instruments providing for the establishment of the FRA before the European Council of June 2006. It supports the extension of the geographical scope of application of these legal instruments to candidate states and states who have concluded a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EC (potential candidate states), as their inclusion will also enable the FRA to assist the Union’s institutions in monitoring and thereby actively promoting Fundamental Rights, including gender equality, in these regions.
EWLA emphasises that, as the Communication “Roadmap for equality between women and men” indicates, the issues of equal economic independence for women and men, reconciliation of private and professional life, equal representation in decision-making, eradication of all forms of gender-based violence and elimination of gender stereotypes have still not been resolved, even though these shortcomings and phenomena are wide-spread and well-known for a considerable period of time.
EWLA urges the Commission to exert its powers conferred upon it to safeguard the treaties. Also, in order to intensify its monitoring of the present Member States, the Commission is urged to ensure sustainable improvements in gender equality in law and in practice, as there is a predisposition that the initial momentum may dissipate now that full membership has been achieved.