Yesterday, 10 May 2023, the Members of the European Parliament historically voted on its consent for the EU accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, Istanbul Convention. This is a step closer for the EU towards ratifying the most advanced legal framework so far for the prevention and combating of violence against women and girls.
Six years after the EU signed the Istanbul Convention – the first legally binding international instrument on preventing and combating violence against women and girls – it has still not been ratified because of the refusal of a few member states, despite Parliament’s multiple calls to this end. However, the EU Court of Justice’s opinion of 6 October 2021 confirmed that the European Union can ratify the Istanbul Convention without having the agreement of all member states.
The Court found that the appropriate scope for the EU’s accession is asylum, judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and obligations of the EU institutions and public administration. In line with this, on Wednesday MEPs voted to give their consent in two separate votes:
- on institutions and public administration of the Union – 472 in favour, 62 against, 73 abstentions
- on judicial cooperation in criminal matters, asylum and non-refoulement – 464 in favour, 81 against, 45 abstentions.
The EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention does not exempt member states from ratifying it themselves, MEPs have repeatedly said, urging the remaining six countries – Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia – to ratify the Convention without delay, so that it can protect women to the full extent of the Convention’s intended scope.
University Women of Europe acknowledges this step forward and will continue to advocate for the EU full accession to the CoE Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) in the EU Council, as observer at the Committee of the Parties of the Istanbul Convention.
The press release of the European Parliament on the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention is available HERE.