The EU funding priorities and strategic objectives for the 2021- 2027 funding cycle have received wide media coverage. Gender equality has come to be identified as a central value of the European Union, as well as being a United Nation sustainable development goal. In particular, the historic financial package to support Member States’ recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the strategic objectives of digitalisation and the green transition have received a lot of attention. However, there is another dimension to consider in relation to EU funding: an intensified commitment to improving gender equality in the Eurozone.
In March 2020, the European Commission published a Gender Equality Strategy for 2020-2025 that includes among its priorities the improvement of women’s underrepresentation in the economy, particularly in the labour market. In order to achieve a more gender-equal union by 2025, the EU has weaved this commitment into its funding measures, for example in its largest grant funding programme, Horizon Europe, as well as in the requirements of the recovery package for member states.
The new Horizon Europe programme introduces a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) eligibility requirement. The requirement applies to public entities, universities and research funding organizations, both public and private, beginning in 2022. In order to be eligible, these organizations need to have a Gender Equality Plan in place, which should: