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Living and Working in the EU

Living and working in the European Union.

Proposal on increasing Gender Equality in the Boardrooms of Listed Companies
Companies listed on stock exchanges in the EU would have to bring in transparent recruitment procedures so that by 2020, at least 40% of their non-executive directors are women, under a draft EU directive voted by Parliament on 20 November 2013. MEPs propose that companies which fail to introduce such procedures should face penalties. In 2013, only 17.6% of non-executive board members of the EU's largest companies were women.

Women on Boards: Commission proposes 40% objective
The European Commission is taking action to break the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from top positions in Europe’s biggest companies. The Commission has proposed legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises. Currently, boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively.

EU action against gun violence - Communication
The European Commission has presented suggestions on how to reduce gun related violence in Europe. It identifies actions at EU level, through legislation, operational activities, training and EU funding, to address the threats posed by the illegal use of firearms. The ideas address weaknesses in the EU across the whole lifecycle of weapons, including production, sale, possession, trade, storage and deactivation, while respecting strong traditions of lawful gun use, such as sports shooting and hunting for example.

EU and the Roma people
For more than a thousand years, Roma people (including Travellers, Gypsies, Manouches, Ashkali, Sinti, etc.) have been an integral part of European civilisation. Today, with an estimated population of 10 to 12 million in Europe (approximately six million of whom live in the EU), Roma people are the biggest ethnic minority in Europe. Most Roma are EU citizens. The Directive on Racial Equality prohibits discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin. All EU countries have transposed the Directive into their own national laws. Yet many Roma are still victims of prejudice and deep-rooted social exclusion.

Roma integration: Progress Report and Recommendation
The European Commission has called on Member States to deliver on their commitments to ensure equality and to do more to improve the economic and social integration of Europe's 10 to 12 million Roma. The call follows the Commission's progress report released today which shows that Member States need to do better in implementing their national Roma integration strategies submitted under the EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies. The new report is accompanied by a proposal for a Recommendation addressed to EU countries which proposes to Member States on the one hand specific measures, including positive action, and on the other hand, horizontal policy measures, including local actions to improve the situation of Roma people. Member States would have two years to put concrete measures into practice to make a difference for Roma people on the ground.

Third Schengen 'health check' - annual report on EU free movement
The European Commission on 3 June presented its third Schengen 'health check', a biannual overview on the functioning of the Schengen area.

Patient rights in the EU
European Patients' Rights Day was on 16 May. The European Commission took the opportunity to list some of the rights and benefits afforded to patients in the EU.

Charter of Fundamental Rights and on Progress in Gender Equality: EU report
Three years after it became legally binding, the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights is becoming a point of reference not only for the EU institutions when drawing up legislation but also for the European and national courts, making fundamental rights a reality for citizens in Europe. These are the findings of today's third annual report on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, covering 2012, which illustrates with a wide range of fundamental rights related cases that the EU is continuing to build a more coherent system for protecting people's fundamental rights. Today's report is accompanied by a new progress report on equality between women and men during 2012 and it coincides with a series of new actions to reinforce citizens' rights that the Commission has put forward in its 2013 EU Citizenship Report.

Improving application of workers' rights to free movement
The European Commission has proposed measures to ensure better application of EU law on people's right to work in another EU Member State and so make it easier for people to exercise their rights in practice. Currently there is a persistent problem with public and private employers' lack of awareness of EU rules, regardless of whether the national legislation is compliant or not. This lack of awareness or understanding of the rules is a major source of discrimination based on nationality. People also consider that they do not know where to turn to in the host Member State when faced with problems concerning their rights to free movement. The proposal aims to overcome these obstacles and to help to prevent discrimination against workers on the basis of nationality by proposing practical solutions.

EC moves to cut legal red tape
The European Commission is proposing to slash red tape for citizens and businesses by doing away with bureaucratic rubber-stamping exercises which are currently required to get public documents, such as your birth certificate, recognised as authentic in another EU Member State. Currently, citizens who move to another Member State have to spend a lot of time and money in order to demonstrate that their public documents (such as birth or marriage certificates) issued by their Member State of origin are authentic. This involves the so-called 'Apostille' certificate which is used by public authorities in other states as proof that public documents, or the signatures of national officials on documents, are genuine. Businesses operating across EU borders in the EU’s Single Market are also affected. For instance, they will often be required to produce a number of certified public documents in order to prove their legal status when operating cross-border. These requirements date from an era when countries would only trust a public document if it came from the foreign office of another country. However, just as we trust in each other's court judgements, we should be able to trust a Member State's Registry Office issuing birth certificates, without needing their foreign office, justice ministry, or other authorities to vouch for them. Today, the European Commission is therefore proposing to scrap the 'Apostille' stamp and a further series of arcane administrative requirements for certifying public documents for people living and working in other Member States.

EU Anti-Trafficking Directive
Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA

Trafficking in human beings in the EU
23.632 people were identified or presumed victims of trafficking in the EU over the 2008-2010 period. This is the most striking figure emerging from the first report on trafficking in human beings in Europe, published today by the European Commission. The report also highlights that the number of people being trafficked in and to the EU increased by 18% from 2008 to 2010, but less traffickers end up behind bars, since convictions decreased by 13% over the same period. Despite this worrying background, to date, only 6 out of the 27 EU Member States have fully transposed the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive into their national legislation and three countries have only reported partial transposition of the directive, with the deadline having expired on 6 April 2013.

Schengen Information System (SIS II)
The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) entered into operation on 9 April 2013 to increase security and facilitate free movement within the Schengen area. The SIS II allows for an easy exchange of information between national border control authorities, customs and police authorities on persons who may have been involved in a serious crime. It also contains alerts on missing persons, in particular children, as well as information on certain property, such as banknotes, cars, vans, firearms and identity documents that may have been stolen, misappropriated or lost.

'Smart borders' proposal
The European Commission has proposed a 'smart border package' with the aim of speeding up, facilitating and reinforcing border check procedures for foreigners travelling to the EU. The package - which would move the EU towards "a more modern and efficient border management" by using state-of-the-art technology - consists of a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP) and an Entry/Exit System (EES) that will simplify life for frequent third country travellers at the Schengen external borders and enhance EU border security.

Women in Europe work 59 days 'for free' - Equal Pay Day
The size of the gender pay gap, or the average difference between women and men's hourly earnings across the EU, is 16.2% - according to the latest figures released today by the European Commission. The news comes ahead of the 2013 European Equal Pay Day on 28 February. The EU-wide event marks the extra number of days that women would need to work to match the amount earned by men: currently 59 days, meaning this year the day falls on 28 February. To help tackle the pay gap, the Commission is highlighting a series of good practices by companies in Europe which have taken on the problem. It is the third time the Equal Pay Day takes place at European level.

European driving licence
An estimated 60% of the Union’s population holds a valid driving licence, meaning 300 million citizens. Improving road safety is one of the main objectives of driving licence legislation. Moreover the recognition of driving licences facilitates free movement of citizens. The implementation of a single model throughout the European Union is seen as ensuring greater security.

Proposal on increasing Gender Equality in the Boardrooms of Listed Companies
The European Commission has taken action to break the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from top positions in Europe’s biggest companies. The Commission proposes legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises. Currently, boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively. Despite an intense public debate and some voluntary initiatives at national and European level, the situation has not changed significantly in recent years: an incremental average increase of the number of women on boards of just 0.6 percentage points per year has been recorded since 2003. For this reason the Commission is proposing EU legislation to accelerate progress towards a better gender balance on the corporate boards of European companies.

"Science: it's a girl thing!" campaign
With the European Union needing up to one million additional researchers by 2020, the European Commission has launched a campaign to get more girls interested in science and encourage more women to choose research as a career. Women make up more than half the EU's student population and 45 per cent of all doctorates (PhDs), but they account for only one third of career researchers. Women PhD graduates are also still a minority in engineering and manufacturing. The three year campaign will first seek to get teenage girls interested in studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects). The focus will then broaden to female students more generally, encouraging them to consider research careers.

Together against Trafficking in Human Beings
Trafficking in human beings is a serious crime and a gross violation of human rights, classified as a modern form of slavery. The European Commission's website raises awareness of the problem and shows what is being done at EU-level and in the EU Member States to fight this injustice. It is hoped that the website will also help to promote exchange of ideas and cooperation between all organisations and people involved in the fight against trafficking in human beings and the protection of victims. On the 19th of June 2012, the Commission adopted "EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016)”. The strategy is a set of concrete and practical measures to be implemented over the next five years. It is based on five key priorities: better identifying and protecting the victims increasing prosecution of traffickers development of child protection systems setting up of national law-enforcement units on human trafficking the creation of Joint investigation teams including national authorities and EU agencies.

EU Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in Human beings - guide
Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked in the EU every year. Women and men, boys and girls in vulnerable positions are traded for the purpose of sexual or labour exploitation, removal of organs, begging, domestic servitude, forced marriage, illegal adoption as well as other forms of exploitation. The European Commission today adopted the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016), a set of concrete and practical measures to be implemented over the next five years. These include the establishment of national law enforcement units specialised in human trafficking and the creation of joint European investigation teams to prosecute cross-border trafficking cases.

Passenger rights: what passengers with reduced mobility need to know when travelling by air
The European Commission has published guidelines clarifying the rights of disabled passengers and people with reduced mobility when they travel by air. The Guidelines are published before the 2012 London Olympics, specifically to facilitate the travel of participating athletes and many EU citizens with reduced mobility who still come across problems when travelling by air. The guidelines are based on a detailed assessment of the EU Regulation concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.

European citizens' initiative
A European citizens' initiative is an invitation to the European Commission to propose legislation on matters where the EU has competence to legislate. A citizens' initiative has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least 7 out of the 28 member states. A minimum number of signatories is required in each of those 7 EU Member States.

European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) - guide
The European Commission marked Europe Day, 9 May, by registering the very first European Citizens' Initiative. Other proposed initiatives were also due to be added to the online register in the coming days.

Doing business in Austria: Staff welfare
This guide gives brief information on the legislation which directs social rules in the workplace in Austria.

Doing business in Finland: Staff welfare
The Ministry of Employment and the Economy's Strategy and Foresight Unit coordinates equality and equal opportunities matters in Finland, as well as the Ministry's sustainable development policy.