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Věra Jourová is the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality since 2014. She shares her message on gender equality in digital spaces today on International Women’s Day.

I am delighted to talk to you  today on International Women’s Day. This is a day to celebrate women’s achievements in many fields of life. For me, as EU Commissioner for Gender Equality, it is also a day to remember that we are far from equality between women and men.

One area where I’m sure you’ll agree there is still a large gender imbalance is in the digital field.

The digital opportunity

The sad reality is that women make up less than one in five ICT graduates in the EU, and this figure is only declining. Even our youngsters are not embracing opportunities. I find this depressing– it is not that women are incompetent or uninterested! On the contrary, we know that there are no major differences between the basic digital skills of young men and women.

We must ask ourselves what is shaping choices of girls from an early age? We found that only 16% of the almost 8 million people working in ICT are women. To make things worse, there is a high drop-out rate of women from digital jobs, which results in an annual productivity loss of around 16 billion euros in the EU.

However, for the women that do work in this sector, the digital sector is indeed a rather equal workplace. For example, research shows that, in the tech sector, men and women who share the same non-managerial jobs and similar backgrounds tend to earn the same. But, we must not forget that the hierarchical structures are still very much dominated by men, with women representing only a tiny portion of the tech industry’s top leadership.

All hands on board for gender equality

Empowering women in digital spaces goes hand in hand with gender equality and empowering women more broadly. With an average score of 66.2 out of 100 on the Gender Equality Index, the EU is still a long way off from reaching a gender-equal society. We need concrete actions and this is why, throughout my mandate, I have launched several initiatives which can bring real improvements.

A very important issue we are trying to tackle is equal access to economic resources. It is not just a matter of women’s economic independence. It is a prerequisite for the achievement of economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness. Progress has been slowing: in fact, the employment gap and pay gap have remained pretty similar in recent years. The persistence of these gaps led us to take action. We realised without action we would be stuck with progress at a snail’s pace!

In November 2017, we announced a concrete response to put an end to the gender pay gap through an Action Plan to be delivered until the end of this mandate, in 2019.

In April 2017, we announced the EU Social Pillar to give equal opportunities to men and women in the working place, specifically through the work-life balance proposal. With these new rules, we would be giving equal weighting to leave provisions for mothers and fathers alike. We want to offer people choice so they have opportunities to chase their dreams and arrange their lives how they see fit.

We are also working to improve the gender balance in companies at all management levels and encourage governments and social partners to adopt concrete measures to improve gender balance in decision-making.

And when it comes to digital, one of our top priorities is to tackle the lack of skilled ICT professionals. The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, launched in December 2017, brings together stakeholders who take action in order to tackle the digital skills gap in Europe. In one year, members of the Coalition have provided several million training courses on digital, both online and face to face, to Europeans and now they are running through 18 National Coalitions.

In 2017, we also launched the Digital Opportunity Traineeship. This is pilot project that will provide around 6,000 students with experience in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, programming and big data in the period 2018-2020. This is of course is directed equally and women and men.

As you can see, many of the initiatives go beyond legislative action and they are a proof of the multi-stakeholder approach, which the EU has firmly embraced.

So, today, I call you, as company and business representatives, to action. You have a key role in helping people to upskill and foster their careers, by offering equal opportunities to men and women in the workplace.  Only with joint efforts will we make Digital a women’s world too. I am committed to defend equal rights and opportunities on the labour market for men and women and I am counting on your support!


I wish you all a Happy Women’s Day!

The EU Committee at the British Chamber of Commerce|EU & Belgium welcomes the newly appointed vice-chairs, who will run for a year mandate. They will help the EU Committee team to shape the programme and provide a platform for engagement. “The EU Committee team is now stronger with a very competent team and I am very confident in their contribution to put key EU legislative files on the agenda that will meet our member’s needs” commented Nikolaus Tacke, EU Committee chair.

A survey that we have conducted in July 2017 showed that only 52% of our members feel confident in the future political prospects of the EU. Our mission for 2018 will be to find ways to enhance a stronger relationship between the policy-makers and our members, through a very strong programme and also around discussions about the Future of Europe.

The British Chamber’s EU Committee for the year 2017-2018 is composed of five task forces covering fundamental EU policy issues. Please find below the list of our leadership and task force team for 2018.

EU new team table

18 months before the European Parliament’s election and the nomination of a new commission, we are delighted to be welcoming Mr Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness at the European Commission; Dominique Ristori, Director-General at DG Energy; Francisco Fonseca Morillo, Deputy Director-General, DG JUST and a few leading MEPs such as Birgit Sippel or Axel Voss. To find out more, please check our programme.

If you would like to know more about our EU Committee activities or be more involved, please email Nikolaus, EU Committee chair at or Charline, EU Events and Policy Executive at


The British Chamber blog is written by guest bloggers and their comments do not reflect the views of the British Chamber

Eradicating all forms of violence against women is a priority of the European Union (EU) and its Member States. The EU recently affirmed this commitment by signing the leading legal instrument on combating gender-based violence: the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). The ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU will improve complementarity between national and EU levels for an integrated approach to combating violence against women.

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has developed a framework to measure violence against women to support this process. It can be used as a tool to help the EU and its Member States fulfill the monitoring and reporting responsibilities that result from their commitment to the Convention. Bringing data together and measuring the extent of violence is essential for adequate policies to be designed, implemented and monitored.

EIGE’s unique measurement tool – the Gender Equality Index[1] provides scores for every Member State and the EU as a whole to measure their progress in achieving gender equality. The domain of Violence has been a part of the Gender Equality Index since the beginning, as violence is rooted in the unequal status of men and women, however it could not be fully populated due to the lack of data. As the availability of data improved, the third edition of the Index (2017) presents a comprehensive measurement framework to monitor violence in a comparable way. The phenomenon of violence against women is closely interconnected with the other domains of the Index and assessed in the broader context of gender equality.

The measurement framework of the domain of Violence sheds light on the spectrum of violence against women that ranges from harassment to killing (femicide). It also provides a more nuanced depiction of the phenomenon.

EIGE additional indicator illustrationThe structure of this framework has three layers.

The first layer contains data on the forms of violence against women that are the most common and widely criminalised. This data is available in all EU countries, therefore comparable and used in the composite measure. The scores given to the EU and each Member State are based on this data.

The framework also includes additional indicators to give a more nuanced picture of violence against women. It is the second layer that measures forms of violence that are very serious but not yet measured in most countries. Some of them, such as stalking and psychological violence are not yet widely criminalised. They provide an overview of the extent of various forms of violence described in the Istanbul Convention as well as data on trafficking in human beings and femicide[2]. These indicators could be included in the calculation of the single score if more reliable and comparable data become available.

The third layer reflects the obligations set out in the Istanbul Convention as well as information on the root causes of violence against women. It covers six dimensions: policies, prevention, protection and support, legislation, involvement of law enforcement agencies and public attitudes towards violence against women and gender equality. This layer helps us answer important questions, for example, is violence against women more common in countries where public attitudes show a higher tolerance to violence? Are health consequences mitigated where support services are widely available? Once populated with data, this layer will help us understand the trends in combating violence and identify strategies that work.

To reveal the complexity of the violence phenomenon, the composite measure, which is based on the data of the first layer of the framework, includes three aspects: prevalence, severity and disclosure of violence against women. The prevalence sub-domain measures physical and sexual violence against women. Severity measures the impact of violence on women’s lives; and disclosure reveals their readiness to disclose their experience. On a scale of 1 to 100, 1 represents a situation where violence is non-existent and 100 represents a situation where violence against women is extremely common, highly severe and not disclosed.

For the first time we have single comparable scores for each of the countries and for the EU at large. The EU’s score is 27.5 out of 100, showing that the phenomenon is prevalent, severe and underreported. The national scores range from 22.1 in Poland to 44.2 in Bulgaria.

One of the important findings is that almost one in two women (47%) in the European Union who have experienced violence have never told anyone, whether that be the police, health services, a friend, neighbour or colleague[3]. This lack of reporting shows that women are not receiving the support they need nor are protected from further violence.

The recent worldwide social media campaign #MeToo that aims to break the silence on sexual harassment and violence shows that things can change. In light of allegations in the media, the European Parliament has put forward a resolution on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the parliament and the wider EU. It encourages victims to speak out and calls on politicians to act as responsible role models in preventing and combating sexual harassment. Directors of nine EU Justice and Home Affairs  Agencies (JHA) have also signed a joint statement on zero tolerance for sexual harassment and violence against women in the workplace. Men Directors of JHA joined the White Ribbon Campaign, taking a pledge never to tolerate or remain silent about violence against women.

EIGE logo EN


EIGE is committed to providing research and measurement tools for policymakers to help them prepare targeted policies to eradicate violence against women. Find the full report here.


[1] European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) (2013b), Gender Equality Index — Report, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, available at:
[2] Femicide has been used to refer to a wide range of violent acts, such as so-called honour killings, female infanticide, pre-adolescent mortality of girls and dowry-related deaths (United Nations, 2012). EIGE defines femicide as ‘the killing of a woman by an intimate partner and death of a woman as a result of a practice that is harmful to women.’
[3] Percentage of women (aged 18-74) in the EU-28 who have not disclosed their experience of sexual and/or physical violence since the age of 15 to anyone. Source: EIGE’s calculation, FRA, Violence against women: an EU-wide survey, 2012

Tom Parker Monday Mail Quote (BLOG) 4 (final)

An alliance of northern European Coastal Chambers accounting for 70% of EU-UK trade urge British and EU negotiators to create clarity on a future trade friendly relationship as soon as possible now that sufficient progress has been made.

The Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce represented by Voka – Flanders Chamber of Commerce and BECI – Brussels Chamber of Commerce, the British Chambers of Commerce, Chambers Ireland, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce have today handed over a joint statement to the British and EU Brexit negotiators. They urge the British and EU negotiators to strive for a breakthrough in the first phase of the negotiations to ensure talks on transition and the future EU-UK trade relationship can start as soon as possible.

Countries from the northern European coastal area have always maintained exceptionally good trade ties. Trade between the United Kingdom and the other 6 European Union countries in this area amounted to 344bn EUR in 2016, accounting for 70% of the total EU-UK trade. The English Channel, located in the middle of the North Sea area, is for example the world’s busiest shipping lane, with more than 500 vessels passing through the strait on a daily basis, as well as being a key transport link between the EU and Ireland. A sudden and chaotic disruption of trade in this region would have a substantial economic impact that should not be underestimated.

The northern European Coastal Chambers were therefore pleased to learn last Friday that sufficient progress has been made in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations. The Northern European Coastal Chambers now call on the United Kingdom and the European Union to move on to discussing the outlines of a future trade friendly EU-UK relationship that fully respects all aspects of the integrity of the Single Market as soon as possible.

The northern European Coastal Chambers also believe a realistic transition period is needed to provide time for companies to adapt to the new EU-UK trading relationship. A status-quo like transition period – announced with sufficient notice – ensuring the UK remains in the customs union and the Single Market for the duration of the transition period, with all the appropriate rights and obligations, would be best to provide business with the highest possible degree of certainty and predictability.



Press contacts:
Belgian Chambers
– Voka – Flanders Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Mr Tom Demeyer
0032 472 84 15 99
– Beci – Brussels Enterprises, Commerce and Industry
Mr Jan De Brabanter
0032 499 588 845

British Chambers
– British Chambers of Commerce
Mr Allan Williams
0044 (0)7920 583381
– British Chamber of Commerce – EU & Belgium
Ms Uzma Lodhi
0032 (0)499 515553

Chambers Ireland
Mr Ian Talbot
00353 87 234 4829

Danish Chamber of Commerce
Mr Kasper Ernest
0032 491 25 56 11

Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag
Franziska Stavenhagen
0032 2 286 – 1634
French Chambers of Commerce and Industry
Mr Christophe Duday
0033 1 40 69 38 31

Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce
Mrs. Lyne Biewinga
0031 70 205 56 56

Seb Dance has been an MEP since 2014 and is a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Development.


Days at the Parliament can start with a breakfast meeting, a committee-related site visit or a press interview. Then it will often be straight to a meeting of my group, the Socialists and Democrats, before catching up with my Brussels staff about my diary and issues coming up before the Parliament.

Quite a lot of my time is spent on correspondence with constituents via traditional means as well as Twitter. Tweeting thoughts and developments – most of which are concerned with Brexit – are a good way of communicating in real-time what I am up to.

I am a member of the Parliament’s Environment and Development committees, and during committee weeks in Brussels, much of my time will be spent in these meetings. The two committees investigate a range of issues, and I recently acted as the co-ordinator for the Socialist and Democrat Group on the committee of inquiry into the diesel emissions scandal, the report on which came after a year of detailed investigations.


This week has been a ‘Strasbourg’ or plenary week and my primary area of concern is an oral question on the situation facing the LGBTI community in Chechnya, which happened to occur the day before the International Day Against Homophobia. As well as my committee roles, I am also the European Parliamentary Labour Party’s Spokesperson on LGBTI issues. It was very pleasing to see the Commission and European External Action Service speak out so strongly against the atrocities in Chechnya and send a strong message that the EU will not stand idly by whilst the persecution of LGBTI communities continues.

Evenings in Brussels might involve meeting parliamentary colleagues, to discuss issues and upcoming business over dinner, or speaking to groups about the future of the UK in Europe. If I’m back at home, a typical evening is spent visiting one of the seventy-three Constituency Labour Parties in London, speaking to them about my work in the European Parliament and discussing the latest developments in the post-referendum relations between the EU and UK government.

seb dance

Fridays back in London allow me the chance to meet with constituents and to speak to groups across the city, many of whom are concerned about what exactly Brexit will mean for business, industry and citizenship rights. Londoners voted decisively to remain in the referendum last year, and much of my time back home is spent focusing on ensuring those voices are heard over the next two years, fighting to retain our vital access to the Single Market and Customs Union, and calling for the guarantee of the existing rights of EU citizens in the UK.

The UK might be heading out of the European Union, but until that day comes, we must continue to play a full role in the affairs of the Union, including here at the Parliament. To that end, the days of an MEP from the British delegation remain as busy as ever.

To learn more about Seb Dance’s work visit his website:
Or follow him on social media:

With the ‘World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development’ this Sunday, the 21st of May, we look at the importance of diversity in the workplace with MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis. Mr Papadimoulis is the European Parliament’s Vice-President of Parliament responsible for gender equality and diversity, and the Chair of the Bureau’s High-Level Group on the subject.

dimitrios papadimoulis.jpg

It is with great delight that I contribute my thoughts on the importance of diversity in the workplace to the blog published by The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. Workplace diversity is important for a wide range of reasons. With the current workforce demographics shift, the emergence of global markets and consequential globalisation, diversity in the workplace mirrors this societal change. Not only is diversity an ethical concept but it can also contribute to increased productivity and problem-solving. A broader range of talents with diverse experience and knowledge results in wider collaboration to resolve issues. We can use this occasion to reflect upon the importance of diversity and gender equality, those improvements which could and must be made within the EU and the need to promote diversity, inclusion and positive change on a global scale. The European Parliament must be seen to consciously and consistently advocate for full gender equality and diversity, in line with the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The most important problems that have been widely observed refer to weak gender parity when it comes to job quality, equal access and job development. In this respect, remuneration gaps and the globally low rate of women holding executive positions is something we should finally deal with. Gender discrimination still exists and women still be trailed in the workplace.

Furthermore, many studies have shown that gender diversity, albeit secured by human rights convention and adopted in variable business codes, has a positive impact on innovation, productivity and profitability. Nonetheless, in many EU member-states gender inequality persists as young women still find it harder than young men to enter the labour market whereas sexual, physical or psychological violence are not inclusively and successfully addressed.


As the European Parliament’s Vice-President of Parliament responsible for gender equality and diversity, and as Chair of the Bureau’s High-Level Group on the subject, this event is of significant importance. To achieve equal access and treatment for every human being, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, the European Parliament should further to continue its focus on diversity. Equality and diversity are integral to the values of not only our institution, but those of all EU bodies. At the European Parliament, our pursuit of achieving a vision of equality and diversity in the workplace is highlighted – for example – in our fostering of an open, inclusive working environment for women and men alike (including those persons with disabilities). Additionally, we have a long-standing history of combating the glass ceiling which potentially infringes on individuals’ access to decision-making positions.

Held every year on the 21st May since its assembly by the United Nations in 2002, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development emphasises the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development. This day is an opportunity to help communities to understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony. It was adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Cultural diversity is an unavoidable aspect of society which should always be embraced and of which we should never be afraid. Our differences and our ability to live side-by-side without assimilation or appropriation are vital to promoting intercultural dialogue and social cohesion.

eu flags

On an individual basis, I presented, on behalf of the High-Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity, a report entitled ‘Gender Equality in the European Parliament Secretariat – state of play and the way forward 2017-2019’, which the Bureau adopted on 16 January 2017. We are committed to work and achieve our goals for the coming period, further improve working conditions, tackle existing policy gaps, and turn this institution, and the EU broadly, a place where gender equality and diversity should no longer be an issue of debate.

Greater representation of a wider demographic irrespective of gender, race, disability or religion helps to increase the level of democratic representation of all EU citizens. The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an international observance sanctioned by the United-Nations and encourages concrete action to support both gender equality and diversity.

dimitrios papadimoulis2

EU institutions are fortunate enough to comprise of a wide range of individuals from varying cultures; speaking numerous official EU languages yet harmoniously coming together to achieve a wider aim. The world day for Cultural Diversity seeks to bring awareness to the importance of combating polarization and stereotypes and promotes intercultural dialogue. I am proud that we at the EU Parliament, through everyday gestures and actions, demonstrate that this is an aim which can realistically be achieved.

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an effective means of raising awareness. We are all invited to promote the values of cultural diversity and dialogue on a global sphere. No act is too small. Through integration you can use this observation to embrace different cultures, religions and language communities. Through sharing your own customs and values, you can help others to experience those things to which they are not normally accustomed.

To see more of Dimitrios Papadimoulis’s work visit his website:
or follow his Facebook and Twitter:


Tom Vandendelaere has been an MEP since November 2014. He is a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Substitute and Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Substitute.



Today, the 26th of April, has only one thing in common with yesterday, the 25th of April and that is the name of the month. Every day is different since there are other opportunities to take and pitfalls to avoid. I have certainly taken on one opportunity today namely, writing this blog post.


The day starts at 5h45, after hitting the snooze button a couple of times followed by a refreshing shower. My daily morning routine demands a jam sandwich with each newspaper I read and, luckily for me, there are only three of them. To read newspapers enables me to look at the same facts from different angles and make a distinction between hard facts and interpretations. However, there is no time to lose because I have to take the car to Bruges and the 7h00 train to Brussels to the office at the European Parliament Today’s  hot topic: Brexit and its effect on Belgium and the Flemish Region. In my opinion, we have to value this trade relationship that we have with the UK but tough negotiations do not exclude a soft Brexit. If everything is properly negotiated with mutual respect for each other, future trade between the EU and UK can be secured as is important for SMEs in both regions.


When arriving at the office at 8h30, I get down to work immediately by having a meeting with my parliamentary assistants in order to coordinate the work we are doing and to run through the agenda of the day. If I am talking about the work we are doing this can often be related to one of the committees of which I am a member. It is always difficult to decide to which committee to go first, as most committees have overlapping schedules, but nevertheless I have to make a choice.

The first one out of three is the ECON committee which starts at 09h30. A couple of issues are discussed of which passporting rights can be interesting for the UK. It enables financial institutions in an EU-member state to do business in another member state of the European Union without needing further authorization. The upcoming Brexit could invoke that many firms, especially international banks, leave the UK in order to retain their passporting rights and the consequent access to the common market. In the meantime the AGRI committee is already at full speed. Agricultural policy is close to my heart since I was born in one of the most agriculture-oriented regions in Europe. West Flanders, has clearly left its mark. Agriculture still accounts for nearly 40 percent of the budget of the European Union. In the case of the UK we can think about the agricultural subsidies: 3.3 billion euro a year. If these farmers want to remain competitive than these subsidies are definitely needed to lower the production costs.


After a chaotic morning I try to foresee half an hour of sports in my agenda. Just before lunch I like to do some exercises in the gym at the European Parliament. Such moments are rare, unfortunately. At 12h00 I have a lunch meeting with a journalist of a business newspaper who wanted to know my opinion about the position of the European Central Bank, Greece, Prospectus and Brexit.


At 14h00 I rush to the EMPL committee. Today’s discussion is about the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Commission has the intention to initiate a proposal concerning the social rights of EU citizens because of the focus, in the last decade, on economic and monetary aspects. It concerns i.a the legal regulation and status of new forms of work (e.g. the couriers of Deliveroo) and the opportunities of new technologies within the working environment. Coincidentally, the publication day of this blog spot, 1 May, is the day Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum is remembered, a milestone in the recognition of the importance of the employee’s rights.

The Brexit working group of the EPP is scheduled at 15h30 and deals with the coordination of viewpoints within the EPP Group. This is necessary because if we want a successful negotiation in the future, it is important to act as unified as possible.


As an MEP I have to deal with lobbyists almost on a daily basis. And today is not an exception to the rule. At 16h30 I have a meeting with a lobbyist who represents the interest of employers within the Flemish Region. She wanted to know more about the new prospectus regulation. This regulation aims to ease the access to financial resources for small and medium-sized enterprises, a topic dear to British investors and bankers alike. It should become easier and cheaper to attract candidate-investors.

After taking some time to meet up with a Belgian visitor group, I went back to the office for a short interview by telephone about the abolishment of the roaming costs after the 15th of June 2017. In the context of the wholesale roaming market I addressed the advantages both for consumers and businesses within the EU.

I leave the office at 18h30, after discussing some practical issues with my assistants and take the train back to my hometown. When finally arriving at home there is hardly any time left for dinner because I have to go to a local entrepreneurial event at 20h30. The event is about the policies that are needed to preserve the future of local entrepreneurship. Where can the EU make a difference?

Eventually I am off to bed at 23h00 but before this happens I treat myself with a pint of my favourite Belgian beer: Rodenbach.

To learn more about Tom’s work visit his website: or follow his twitter:

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