Europe beyond gender - latest issue of DG EACs The Magazine no 25

For Europe and Europeans, equality between women and men is a fundamental right provided for under Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which was solemnly proclaimed in Nice in 2000 by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. It is also enshrined in the EC Treaty, which states under Article 3 that, in all its activities, the Community shall aim to eliminate inequalities and to promote equality between men and women.

The Constitution supports our efforts to promote gender equality and non-discrimination by giving an added impulse, as the new Article 3 refines the existing Treaty duty to state that the European Union shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.

This duty is particularly relevant for the policy areas under my responsibility: education, vocational training, youth, culture, citizenship and multilingualism. Therefore, the Directorate-General for Education and Culture has been ensuring that the European programmes supporting transnational projects in these domains play an important role in addressing discrimination in all its forms. The nature of our policies and activities puts us in the front lines of the battle for equality between women and men, and nondiscrimination in general.

As the classic author Charlotte Bront put it, Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among rocks. Our aim has always been that the European programmes fertilise the heart of each citizen with the values of tolerance.

All European programmes have the promotion of equal opportunities as a core principle. A large number of projects promoting equal opportunities and combating discrimination have been financed under these programmes, from Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci to Youth, Citizenship and Culture 2000. Some of them are illustrated in this magazine. I hope they will be a source of inspiration for concrete actions in the areas you are working in.