Overall, we as confederation of civil society organisations welcome the content of the Joint Staff Working Document (JSWD) and its annex, and notably the broadening of its scope beyond development cooperation. This document reiterates that equality between men and women, and girls and boys, is a core value of the European Union enshrined in Article 8 TFEU. We are looking forward to the Council’s endorsement of the annex as Gender Action Plan 2016 – 2020.

However, we regret that the document was issued as a JSWD rather than an official Communication of the Commission. This clearly demonstrates a lack of political will and that not enough importance is attached to the topic of gender equality. Given the weak results on gender mainstreaming found in the Commission’s evaluation of GAP I, much more concerted action and political leadership is required to ensure successful gender mainstreaming.
Following the publications of the JSWD, the focus must now be on the implementation of the various activities described in it. The following analysis therefore highlights a number of important questions and concerns regarding political leadership, implementation of thematic priorities, reporting and financing that will need to be clarified in the near future if the EU is to achieve concrete results on gender equality and girls’ and women’s’ empowerment in its external action.