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Ahead of International Women's Day, the European Commission issued the following statement:

Ahead of International Women's Day, the Commission published its 2021 report on gender equality in the EU, that shows the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities between women and men in almost all areas of life, both in Europe and beyond, rolling back on the hard-won achievements of past years. At the same time, gender equality has never been so high up on the EU's political agenda, and the Commission has made significant efforts to implement the Gender Equality Strategy, adopted one year ago. To better monitor and track progress in each of the 27 Member States, the Commission is launching today a Gender Equality Strategy Monitoring Portal.

The European Commission has today presented a proposal on pay transparency to ensure that women and men in the EU get equal pay for equal work. A political priority of President von der Leyen, the proposal sets out pay transparency measures, such as pay information for job seekers, a right to know the pay levels for workers doing the same work, as well as gender pay gap reporting obligations for big companies. The proposal also strengthens the tools for workers to claim their rights and facilitates access to justice. Employers will not be allowed to ask job seekers for their pay history and they will have to provide pay related anonymised data upon employee request. Employees will also have the right to compensation for discrimination in pay.  

The right to equal pay for the same work or work of equal value between female and male workers has been a founding principle of the European Union since the 1957 Treaty of Rome. A 2006 Directive (Directive 2006/54/EC) on equal treatment of women and men in matters of employment and occupation already requires employers to ensure equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between women and men. It was complemented in 2014 by a Commission Recommendation on pay transparency. Despite this legal framework, the principle of equal pay is not fully implemented and enforced. The gender pay gap in the EU remains at 14.1%, according to the latest Eurostat findings.

Today the Commission sets out its ambition for a strong Social Europe that focuses on jobs and skills for the future and paves the way for a fair, inclusive and resilient socio-economic recovery. The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan outlines concrete actions to further implement the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights as a joint effort by the Members States and the EU, with an active involvement of social partners and civil society. It also proposes employment, skills and social protection headline targets for the EU to be achieved by 2030.

Today, the European Commission presents an ambitious Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 to ensure their full participation in society, on an equal basis with others in the EU and beyond, in line with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which establish equality and non-discrimination as cornerstones of EU policies. Persons with disabilities have the right to take part in all areas of life, just like everyone else. Even though the past decades brought progress in access to healthcare, education, employment, recreation activities and participation in political life, many obstacles remain. It is time to scale up European action.

The European Commission has today adopted a Communication providing Member States with broad guidance on the conduct of fiscal policy in the period ahead. It provides guiding principles for the proper design and quality of fiscal measures. It sets out the Commission's considerations regarding the deactivation or continued activation of the general escape clause. It also provides general indications on the overall fiscal policy for the period ahead, including the implications of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for fiscal policy.

On the occasion of the World Wildlife Day, the Commission reiterates its invitation to all world institutions to raise their voices to build the momentum for nature and help convince more governments to be ambitious at the crucial Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CoP 15) later this year. Exactly a year since the Commission launched its Global Coalition “United for Biodiversity”, more than 200 institutions worldwide - national parks, research centres and universities, science and natural history museums, aquariums, botanic gardens and zoos - have already joined forces to tackle the biodiversity crisis.  The Commission has also joined the intergovernmental High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, launched at the One Planet Summit in January this year, actively supporting the goal to conserve at least 30% of land and sea by 2030.

Today, the Commission approved 226 projects in all 27 Member States that will support their efforts in designing and implementing national reforms to enhance growth. These support actions are delivered in the framework of the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) and will have a total budget of €102.6 million for the year 2021 to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion in the European Union.

Today, the European Commission published its annual report on the Safety Gate, which is the EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products helping to take dangerous non-food products off the market. The report shows that the number of actions taken by authorities following an alert is growing year by year, reaching a new record number of 5,377, compared to 4,477 in 2019. 9% of all alerts raised in 2020 concerned products related to COVID-19, mostly masks meant to protect but failing to do so. Other examples for dangerous COVID-19 related products notified in the Safety Gate are disinfectants containing toxic chemicals, such as methanol that can lead to blindness or even death if swallowed, or UV sanitizers that exposed users to strong radiation causing skin irritations. 

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