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EU must assess when its action is positive and when it has unintended consequences

8 March 2013

EU must assess when its action is positive and when it has unintended consequences

As countries across Europe and the world mark the 102nd International Women’s Day, MEP Marina Yannakoudakis has said that the EU can play a positive role in promoting equality, but it must also understand that its well-meaning actions can have unintended consequences that reduce women’s choice or harm their career prospects.

As countries across Europe and the world mark the 102nd International Women’s Day, MEP Marina Yannakoudakis has said that the EU can play a positive role in promoting equality, but it must also understand that its well-meaning actions can have unintended consequences that reduce women’s choice or harm their career prospects.

Mrs Yannakoudakis, European Conservatives and Reformists group women’s spokesman, said that the EU has taken a number of initiatives beneficial to women such as the European Protection Order, which enables women who face the danger of violence to take out a restraining order that applies across the EU.

However, she also warned that a number of actions aimed at promoting women’s rights and equality risk reducing choice, increasing costs, or reducing employment prospects of women. For example, EU legislation has made car insurance more expensive for many women, under the name of equality; plans mooted for women quotas in boardrooms risk unfair accusations of tokenism; and presently-stalled proposals for 20 weeks mandatory fully-paid maternity leave would make young women less able to choose the amount of leave they want to take, and it risks reducing the employability of women of child-bearing age.

Mrs Yannakoudakis said:

“The EU has an important role to play in promoting women’s rights and equality across the world. It can help to exchange good practice and to highlight where governmental action to assist women has played a positive role.

“However, there are occasions when the EU’s very well-intentioned actions can have unintended consequences that I believe could set back women’s rights to choose, or their chances of furthering their career. The most important action the EU can take to help women is to put the economy back on the path to growth so that businesses can give all people, including women, opportunities. No amount of legislation can make up for the fact that a growing economy provides women with greater rights and more choice over their lives.

“We still have a long way to go before we can claim to have true equality between the sexes but we must be careful not to set women’s rights back by the policies that we adopt.”

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