MEPs play a huge role in securing reproductive freedom and gender equalityÂ in theÂ EUÂ and abroad.Â Following theÂ election of a new European Parliament,Â IPPF EN will continue working closely with them to ensure that these issues remain high on the EUâ€™s agenda.
The May 2019 elections for the European Parliament had a record high turnout of over 50% across the EU. This is the largest number of Europeans to have turned up at the ballot box in two decades. It shows that citizens recognise the importance of the EU in shaping their daily lives.
The outcomes of this election will likely elicit a shifting of the balance of power in the EU, with both centre-left and centre-right groups losing support in favour of smaller groupings. Forming a majority coalition will be more difficult and will require cooperation from more than just the two largest blocs. The far right and Eurosceptic parties have made progress in some countries (notably Italy, Hungary and Poland), but have been contained in others (Austria, Denmark andÂ Spain). While the emergence of new parliamentary groups may still result in a greater platform for some of these movements to express theirÂ regressive beliefs, they are unlikely to be able to seriously disrupt the European Parliamentâ€™s work.
AlthoughÂ the proportion of progressive forces in the newly elected European Parliament has somewhat decreased compared to the previous mandate, it remains a considerable force. Any majority coalition will need to include at least two or more groups of progressive players to be stable.Â ProgressiveÂ actorsÂ will therefore continue playing a key role in promoting and defending the EUâ€™s fundamental values.
Indeed, in the past years, the European Parliament has stood up to defend reproductive freedoms and gender equality in the EU. In 2017, Members of the European ParliamentÂ strongly affirmedÂ that the denial of reproductive care, including abortion care, was a form of violence against women and called for all women and girls to have control over their bodies and sexualities. In 2019, the European ParliamentÂ denounced the backlashÂ against womenâ€™s rights and gender equality in the EUÂ and called for a zero-tolerance policy on violence against women.
These positions are in line with the EUâ€™s fundamental values. The principle that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in the European Treaties sinceâ€¯1957. Today, inside the EU, its institutions work on promoting equal economic independence for women and men, closing the pay gap between women and men, promoting womenâ€™s participation in decision-making and ending gender-based violence; the EU is further promoting gender equality outside of its borders. Gender equality is enshrined in theÂ Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and isÂ close to the hearts of European citizens â€“ according to aÂ 2017 Eurobarometer survey, 91% of Europeans believe that promoting it is important to ensuring a fair and democratic society.
We at IPPFÂ EN will continue to fight for these values to be at the forefront of the European Parliamentâ€™s agendaÂ in 2019-2024.
By Elena Zacharenko, IPPF EN