Doc. 9850

25 June 2003

The Council of Europe and the Convention on the Future of Europe

Opinion1

Rapporteur: Mrs Lydie Err, Luxembourg, SOC

Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men

I.       Conclusions of the Committee:

The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men supports the draft Resolution and the draft Recommendation tabled by the Political Affairs Committee. The Committee feels, however, that the draft Constitutional Treaty should more adequately address the question of gender equality – which is also a human rights issue. The Committee thus proposes four amendments to the draft texts tabled, in order to ensure that the “acquis communautaire” in this field is safeguarded.

II.       Proposed amendments to the draft Resolution included in Doc. 9846 tabled by the Political Affairs Committee:

Amendment A:

At the end of paragraph 2, add the following:

      “, but will also take into account the proposals of the Council of Europe, to ensure that the questions both of closer institutional co-operation and of better human rights protection (including the gender equality dimension) are more adequately addressed.“Am

Amendment B:

After paragraph 7, add the following new paragraph:

“The Assembly is concerned, however, that the “acquis communautaire“ risks being undermined in some crucial human rights areas, despite the envisaged inclusion of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in Part II of the draft Constitution as proposed by the Convention. In particular, equality between women and men should stay a priority objective of the European Union.”

Amendment C:

After sub-paragraph 8. v. c., add the following sub-paragraph d.:

      “an article actively promoting the elimination of any obstacles which might exist in the field of equality between women and men.”Am

Amendment D:

After sub-paragraph 8. v., add the following new sub-paragraph:

“to ensure that the most fundamental human rights questions are adequately addressed in the Constitutional Treaty. In particular:

a. equality between women and men should stay a priority objective of the European Union, inscribed as a value in the first part of the Constitutional Treaty (Article I-2), and the elimination of inequalities and the promotion of equality between women and men should be a transversal objective in all policy fields and actions of the European Union, binding all actors of and in the Union at all levels (Article I-3);

b. the European Union should have and use the possibility to accede to all relevant international treaties, in particular Council of Europe Conventions, but also, for example, to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its Protocols.”

III.       Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur, Mrs Err:

1.       Concerns have been raised by some women’s groups, NGOs and women parliamentarians that the question of equality between women and men has not been adequately addressed by the Convention, risking to undermine the “acquis communautaire” in this field. This evaluation is shared by the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. The Committee held an exchange of views with Mrs Elisabeth Müller, the Chairperson of the European Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), at its meeting in Paris on 24 April 2003, dedicated to this question. I myself had participated, on behalf of the Committee, on 31 March 2003, in a meeting of the Network of Parliamentary Committees for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union (NCEO-CCEC), which adopted a declaration on “Women and the European Convention”.

2.        At its meeting in Bucarest on 26 May 2003, the Committee approved my non-paper on this issue and instructed me to send a letter transmitting it to the Chairperson of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities, as well as to the President of the Assembly and the Chairpersons of national delegations. The aim was to distribute this non-paper to our colleagues who are members of the EU Convention, to enable them to raise our concerns in the Convention in a timely manner.

3.        Unfortunately, most of our suggestions were not taken into account by the EU Convention. I am thus very grateful that the Committee has been given the opportunity to present an opinion on the issue to the Assembly during the urgent debate scheduled for Thursday, 26 June 2003.

4.        In conclusion of our discussions in Paris and Bucharest, nine important suggestions were identified on the subject of equality between women and men. Since the report of the Political Affairs Committee concentrates on institutional aspects, however, I have decided to propose only four amendments to the Committee (and ultimately to the Assembly) – but here, I would like to list all nine:

Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee

Committee for opinion: Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men

Reference to committee: Reference No 2846 of 23 June 2003 (request for urgent procedure)

Opinion approved by the committee on 24 June 2003

Secretaries to the committee: Mrs Kleinsorge, Ms Kostenko


1 See Doc. 9846 tabled by the Political Affairs Committee.