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European Parliament update: Fighting against gender-based violence, for children’s rights and solidarity between generations

In the last update we learned that the start of the next European Commission needed to be postponed due to three Commissioner-designates (from Romania, Hungary and France) who failed to gather the necessary vote in the committees to be accepted for the high level position. The story of this institution continues also this time alongside of exploring debates on the Istanbul Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Intergroup on Demographic Change and Solidarity between Generations.

Let’s start chronologically, talking about the European Institutions and their work is complicated enough. So here we go with Nr. 1, the Istanbul Convention, discussed on Monday, 25. November by the plenary in Strasbourg on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to a 2014 Fundamental Rights Agency survey, one in three women in the EU has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15

The plenary voted on Thursday on a non-legislative resolution to halt violence against women and urged member states that have not yet ratified the Convention to do so without delay. Those member states include Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and the UK. The resolution passed with 500 votes in favour, 91 against and 50 abstentions. The EP also reiterates its position in favour of specifically earmarking 193.6 million euros for actions preventing and combating gender-based violence.

More information on the Istanbul Convention here: https://www.coe.int/en/web/istanbul-convention/home

One day after the debate on the Istanbul Convention, the European Parliament discussed Children rights in occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was celebrated around the world on the 20th November. (COFACE was celebrating by launching the first Europe-wide survey on Toys and Diversity). MEPs called for more action to combat child trafficking and forced marriage and further stressed the need to guarantee all children the right to an inclusive education. The text was adopted by 495 votes in favour, 58 against and 87 abstentions on Tuesday, 26 November.

More information on the Convention on the Rights of Children here: https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

The highlight of this month’s Strasbourg plenary was the election of the new European Commission, led by German Ursula von der Leyen. The old Commission under Juncker had to work overtime because three candidates were not approved by the parliamentary committees. Hungary, Romania and France put forward a second person who had to go through the same hearings where they were late approved. This meant the whole Parliament with its 751 members could vote on the College, which they did on Wednesday, 27. November. The new Commission was approved by 461 votes to 157 against, with 89 abstentions and can finally assume their offices on 1st of December.

Von der Leyen already saw her first defeat as she could not present a gender-balanced Commission as promised when she was appointed. Although the current composition sees the highest female representation, there is a long way ahead. Let’s hope she can keep her promise of having a gender-balanced Cabinet for every member of the college. “By the end of our mandate, we’ll have gender equality at all levels of management for the very 1st time. This will change the Commission’s face,” tweets von der Leyen.

More information on the programme of the new Commission here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20191121IPR67111/parliament-elects-the-von-der-leyen-commission

Lastly, COFACE, together with AGE Platform Europe, has been campaigning to bring together Members of European Parliament to work cross-party on the topic of demographic change and solidarity between generations. See here the MEPs who have signed up to the group. Regardless of the political party votes on this intergroup proposal this month, we will continue to work closely with these European elected representatives to bring a pluralistic voice for all families to the debates in the European Parliament on demographic change. AGE and COFACE feel that demographic change, because of its impact on citizens, is a topic that needs to be addressed strategically by the European Parliament. Also, by nominating a Commission Vice-President-designate for Demographic Change, Ms Dubravka Suica, the President-elect of the European Commission has started this cross-cutting debate, and Parliament should be ready for this.

By putting forward a common call, AGE and COFACE underline that both family forms and ageing experiences are increasingly diverse. This is why debate on public policies on how to adequately address the needs of all generations in a spirit of solidarity are needed.