Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-06-01-Speech-4-009"

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". Mr President, Mrs Niebler, ladies and gentlemen, I shall be saying a couple of things in German, and from then on I shall be speaking from a English text, as I am standing in for my fellow-Commissioner Mr Špidla. Being, however, a woman who has been politically active for a long time and has always worked, I have to say that this issue of equality of opportunity is one of which I have, of course, always had personal experience, and real equality of opportunity is something I have always been committed to, so I can tell Mrs Niebler that I am very glad to be doing this today. In conclusion, the Commission therefore plans to make the reconciliation of work and private life one of its priority objectives and part of the roadmap on gender equality which was adopted very recently on 1 March 2006. In this context, there are plans to examine all the factors involved in reconciling work and private life, including parental leave, flexible working arrangements and support and care facilities with a view to finding solutions which are needed. This, we know, will involve launching a dialogue with the social partners. I am very pleased that the institutions have worked together so well on this matter, producing an acceptable and modern text, which will hopefully look to a better future for gender equality. I now propose to continue in English. Mr President, the proposal for a revised directive indeed seeks to simplify, modernise and improve Community legislation on equal treatment of men and women at work. It incorporates within one document the relevant passages of the directives on this subject, so that the provisions are clearer and more practical for European citizens. It thus forms part of our efforts to have better lawmaking. The proposal is not simply an exercise in codification; it combines simplification with something I would call ‘prudent modernisation’. In substantive terms, the most important aspects of the improvements are: the standardisation of terminology and, in particular, of definitions in order to ensure that the legislation is really consistent; the explicit application of a number of horizontal provisions to occupational and social security schemes, and the incorporation of the established case law of the Court of Justice in order to enhance legal certainty and clarity. Modernising the directive in this way will help to bring about a considerable improvement in the legal framework of equal opportunities. Given the complexity of the current legal situation and the diffusion of legislation on equal treatment at work, the aim of this proposal – namely, to simplify Community law in order to make it more accessible to European citizens – is very important. The text proposed today is the result of interinstitutional negotiations, through which a reasonable and very satisfactory compromise – which is acceptable to both co-legislators – has been reached. The Commission also approves this text. Parliament has played a very active and ambitious role in handling this matter. It has done much to improve and clarify the text of the directive. For example, a reference has been added to the importance of comparative statistics broken down by sex. Another provision requires organisations which promote equal treatment to exchange information with certain European bodies such as, for instance – as you mentioned Madam Rapporteur – the proposed European Institute for Gender Equality. The overall compromise also includes two statements by the Commission and the Council which underline the great importance of reconciling work and private life as well as the importance of parental leave. Reconciling work and family life is a challenge for each and every woman in our society. In its statement, the Commission said that it is committed to promoting parental leave as an instrument of paramount importance in order to achieve full equality between men and women in working life. We will make every effort to ensure that the conditions necessary to reconcile work and private life are improved by ensuring that this directive on parental leave is implemented appropriately, and particularly by monitoring its suitability and effectiveness."@en1

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