Gender equality

Effective equality between men and women is a key value of any democratic society as well as an internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goal and a fundamental right for all EU citizens. Gender equality entails, among others, the full empowerment of women in all the sectors of society, including decision-making in political, economic and public life, but also zero tolerance for gender-based violence.

Although the Gender Equality Index 2017 issued by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) pointed out that progress towards gender equality in the EU-28 is rather slow, the European Union and its Member States have made significant efforts to combat gender inequality in its different forms. For instance, the share of women in national Parliaments has grown throughout the years and legislative measures have been adopted to improve work-life balance for parents and carers and to bridge the gender pay gap.

Milieu has supported the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Fundamental Rights Agency and the European Institute for Gender Equality to carry out legal and policy analysis and to evaluate and improve regulatory frameworks, public policies and institutional set ups.

Some examples of Milieu’s work in this field are:


Across the EU, women earn on average 16% less than men. This imposes costs on society and individuals alike. The European Union Action Plan 2017-2019 Tackling the Gender Pay Gap defines eight action points for the EU and Member States to address the gap and, ultimately, to close it. Since its release, many of the recommended actions from this plan have been reflected in measures introduced by Member States.

This study investigates a selection of successful measures and identifies overall success factors. Its findings offer a practical source for Member States and other countries seeking to tackle the gender pay gap.

An estimated one in three women in the EU has experienced physical and/or sexual violence spanning diverse generations, nationalities, religions and environments. This costs the EU an estimated EUR 225 billion annually. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) is the first legally binding instrument of its kind and has been in force since 2014.

In an effort to better understand the progress made by Member States, the European Parliament commissioned Milieu to provide an overview of the ratification and implementation process of the Istanbul Convention, including changes of substantive law as well as the results of the monitoring process to-date. The Paper elaborated on best practice in gender-based violence data definitions, collection and analysis as well as best practice in public access to information and law enforcement training. It also explored the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention and its consequences. Finally, Milieu offered policy recommendations to the European Parliament in monitoring implementation of the Istanbul Convention in the future.

The final report can be found online.

Clearly understanding a serious problem, such as violence against women and its prevalence in the EU, is pivotal to effectively combatting it. However, comparing violent crimes against women across Member States is gravely hindered by a lack of accurate, comparable and reliable EU-wide data. This is in part due to differences in legal and statistical definitions of forms of violence as well as variations in coverage, units of measure and data collection methods.

This project sought to streamline these differences by developing definitions, for statistical purposes, of rape, femicide and intimate partner violence (IPV) and by establishing indicators based on harmonised data collection. The project also included detailed legal and policy recommendations for the EU and Member States.

The final report can be found online.