The discussion on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework places special emphasis on the issue of gender budgeting. The European Parliament’s Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality held a discussion with experts, to which Sybille Pirklbauer, the expert of AK Vienna, was invited. She takes a clear position: gender budgeting requires more than an abstract acknowledgement; it needs clear and measurable targets and financial resources.
On 20th June 2018, the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, held a hearing of experts from Europe, who were asked to clarify their points of view on the subject of gender budgeting. Elisabeth Klatzer of WU Vienna and co-founder of the European Gender Budgeting Network, pointed out that over recent years a positive development towards stronger gender budgeting could be observed at international level. She named the IMF or the OECD, which take aspects of gender budgeting into account, as examples. Knowledge of gender budgeting exists; the question remains how it will be implemented. However, because of the lack of practical implementation, she regards the proposals of the EU Commission on the Multiannual Financial Framework as a declaration of bankruptcy by the EU. One could neither find concrete funds nor clear principles for a horizontal approach to take gender specific aspects in the proposed funds into consideration. That is why the EU is in danger to lose its leading role with regard to this issue.
Sybille Pirklbauer of AK Vienna explained the integration and implementation of gender sensitive budgeting in Austria, which is regarded as a model example. Hence - unique in the EU - it has been enshrined in the Constitution that the Federal State, the Länder and the municipalities have to take these aspects into account. Apart from that, earning targets have to be defined for each budget chapter, which must include gender equality. It is important to choose a measurable target with regard to concrete measures to be able to measure success. However, it became clear in practice that the lack of financial resources was the greatest problem. Without a concretely identified budget for gender equality, where only a general principle within the scope of the overall budget is provided, it is impossible to establish how much money has been actually spent to reach gender sensitive targets. This problem of a lack of measurability applies in particular to the EU. Improved data collection and better and continuously trained employees are further steps to effectively implement gender budgeting.
The next day, the same issue was on the agenda of a breakfast debate, which had been organised by Austrian MEPs Evelyn Regner (S&D) and Monika Vana (Greens), to which Michaela Schatz, City of Vienna Department for Budget and Finance, Head of Division responsible for Gender Budgeting had been invited. Since the introduction of the Division led by Schatz since 2005, the City of Vienna is regarded as one of the first cities in Europe that actively implements gender balancing measures. For example, all projects funded by the city have to be checked in advance for gender equality. Apart from simple town planning measures such as improved street lighting, higher positions of women at technical colleges or women in academic projects are also being promoted. However, Schatz also referred to the importance of integrating all levels of administration into the process of gender budgeting and to ensure that these would adhere to all requirements: hence, guidelines had to be accompanied by clear targets, whose (non-)achievement had to be linked to consequences.
Finally, reference has to be made to the recently published book by Elisabeth Klatzer und Angela O´Hagan “Gender Budgeting in Europe - Developments and Challenges”, which describes numerous Best Practice examples.