The “draft template and guidelines for the content of the OP” (Version 2 – 7 January 2013, section 12.3. Equality between men and women) is one of the guiding documents for programming, planning, and preparing the next funding period in the Member States.
However, the draft template contains severe contradictions on the binding principles, provisions, and requirements previously put in place by the EU institutions:
“A description of the contribution to the promotion of equality between men and women and, where appropriate, the arrangements to ensure the integration of the gender perspective at operational programme and operation level.
A description covering, but not limited to:
The contribution of the operational programme to the promotion of equality between men and women, with reference to specific challenges faced in this area, as appropriate;
The actions planned to ensure the integration of the gender perspective at operational level including any initiatives aimed at mainstreaming this principle in project selection and implementation;
Any specific monitoring and evaluation measures envisaged to ensure the follow-up of the implementation of this principle and how these results of monitoring and evaluation will be taken into account;
Where appropriate, specific actions to be taken to promote gender equality with reference to the investment priority(es) concerned in the OP (compulsory for the ESF).
This section is subject to the duly justified assessment of the Member State of the relevance of horizontal principles to the content and objectives of the programme. If the Member State considers that the horizontal principle is not relevant for the operational programme concerned, this section should provide a justification for such an assessment.
Where a part or all of the information requested is included in the Partnership Agreement cross-references may be made.
NB: As set out in Article 96 (7) CPR, this section is not subject to the Commission decision approving the operational programme and remains under the responsibility of the Member State.” (Source: Version 2 – 7 January 2013, section 12.3. Equality between men and women in Draft template and Guidelines for the content of the OP)
Contradicting the binding principles
Given the formulations of the “template” stating that the integration of the dual gender equality approach into the Operational Programmes is
- not binding but voluntary
- that MS can argue that the horizontal principle is not relevant, and
- that gender equality is not subject to the Commission decision approving the OP
there is a danger that the EU dual gender equality approach will receive little recognition in the Structural Funds in the coming period. (see Commission evaluation) These guidelines on gender equality – one of the most important principles of the EU – go against the Gender Equality Pact of the Council, the Gender Equality Strategy, the Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties, and, not least, the CPR and the ESF Regulation.