AuthorSansonetti, Silvia; Davern, Eamonn
Study Report on PES approaches to the promotion of gender equality
1.1 Gender equality as a field of intervention in PES: current state of the art
The European Union (EU) has paid special attention to women’s participation in the labour
market since its foundation in 1957. The principle of gender equality is included in the
Treaty of Rome acknowledging the principle of equal pay for equal work for women an d
men in Arti cle 1191. Sin ce then, legislation has dev eloped from the area of work (access
to the labour market, and equal pay and employment) to equal treatment between women
and men, equal opportun ities, and equal impact. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights2,
in Article 21, en shrines the right to non-discrimination on s everal grounds, including sex,
and in Article 23 reiterates that equality between women and men must be ensured in all
areas, including employment, work, and pay’. In addition, Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty
on th e Functioning of the European U nion (TFEU) formalise gender mainstreaming as a
horizontal goal. EU institutions and EU Member States are expected to account for gender
equality when formulating an d implementing laws, regulations, ad ministrative provisions,
policies, and a ctivities3. The Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, adopted by the
European Commission on 5 March 20204, is the most recent step undertaken by EU
institutions towards the achievement of gender equa lity. It identifies six main objectiv es
and several sub-objectives for th e next five years. Public Employment Services (PES) in
EU Member S tates can contribute to the achievement of these objectives through their
activities. In particular the PES Network’s remit to implement cooperation among EU
Member States in the field of employment as required by Article 149 of the TFEU, presents
specific opportunities for intervention in relation to gender equality including through
initiatives for developing exchanges of information and be st practices among Member
The Decision on the prolongation of the PES Network5 recently adopted by the European
Parliament6 and th e Council7 on a proposal of the European Commission8 makes a step
towards full integration of gender equality in the Network’s activities. The Decision
1 The Treaty of Rome is available in German, French, Italian, and Dutch at: https://eur-
2 Available at:
3 European Equality Law Network (2018), Gender equality and non-discrimination EU gender equality law
update 2018, available at:
4 Communication from the commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and
Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025.
Available at:
5 The PES Network was established by the Decision 573/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council
of 15 May 2014 on enhanced cooperation among national PES of all EU Member States, Iceland and Norway.
That initial Decision did not explicitly mention gender equality as an objective. However, it accounted for the
gender equality dimension in its preamble (first recital, setting out the reasons for the contents of the act) by
stating that PES play a central role in achieving the 75% target for the employment rate of women and men
aged between 20 and 64 years, as set in the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth
(also referred to as ‘Europe 2020’). COM/2010/2020 final, available at:
6 Decision (EU) 2020/1782 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2020 amending
Decision No 573/2014/EU on enhanced cooperation between Public Employment Services (PES) (Text with EEA
relevance). Available at:
7 See the Interinstitutional File 2019/0188(COD) at
8 Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Decision No 573/2014/EU on
enhanced cooperation between Public Employment Services (PES). Available at: https://eur-

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