The European Parliament includes gender-based violence in the list of European crimes, thanks to a report by Esquerra MEP Diana Riba

With this landmark initiative, the European Parliament calls on the Commission and the Council to define common legal definitions, standards and minimum criminal penalties throughout the European Union

The European Parliament has taken a big step forward today in the fight against gender-based violence; it is a day to be welcomed by us all.” That was how Esquerra MEP Diana Riba showed her spirits after learning that the plenary had decided to approve her report with 427 votes in favour, 119 against, and 140 abstentions. The report was drafted jointly with Swedish MEP Malin Björk, working and negotiating together intensely over the last several months.

The text, which had already been approved in committee in July, calls for the amendment of Article 83 of the Treaties in order to include gender-based violence in the list of European crimes. This article covers all those crimes that, given their egregious or cross-border nature, must be regulated in the same way and with minimum European standards.

The decision of the European Parliament places considerable pressure on the other two major European institutions—the Commission and the Council—to officiate consequently from now on. That is why Ms Riba has called on them to “work urgently and diligently to end what is one of the most serious and persistent human rights violations in human history and which has been further aggravated by confinement during the pandemic.”

What does the amendment to Article 83 entail?

The spokeswoman for Esquerra Republicana in the European Parliament explained that this amendment to the Treaties is crucial.

She also recalled that “this amendment can also serve as legal ground for the new Directive on gender-based violence that the European Commission has committed to approving and that we will push to pass without delay this year.”

In this regard, the Directive that the Commission is working on should in principle affect the fields of prevention, support and training in line with the Istanbul Convention. But with the amendment of Article 83, Ms Riba pointed out that “the Directive would have the capacity to go further and be much more comprehensive and ambitious, by addressing the criminal aspect of gender-based violence.”

For Ms Riba, at a historic moment in time when the right and the far right are reorganizing throughout Europe to impose their reactionary agenda, “we Democrats must also organize, from the streets to the institutions, to safeguard the rights and freedoms that the generations that came before us worked so hard to earn,” she said.