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Document 52022SC0062

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT Accompanying the document PROPOSAL FOR A DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on combating violence against women and domestic violence

SWD/2022/62 final

Strasbourg, 8.3.2022

SWD(2022) 62 final

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT

IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT

Accompanying the document

PROPOSAL FOR A DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on combating violence against women and domestic violence

{COM(2022) 105 final} - {SEC(2022) 150 final} - {SWD(2022) 60 final} - {SWD(2022) 61 final} - {SWD(2022) 63 final}


Contents

1.    Introduction: Political and legal context    

2.    Problem definition    

2.1.    What are the problems?    

2.1.1    Scope    

2.1.2 Problem description    

2.1.3.    Who is affected?    

2.1.4.    Why is violence against women and domestic violence a problem?    

2.2.    What are the drivers?    

2.2.1    Structural gender inequality and gender stereotypes    

2.2.2.    Failure to recognise the specificities of crimes and offences relating to violence against women and domestic violence    

2.3.    How will the problem evolve?    

3.    Why should the EU act?    

3.1.    Legal basis    

3.2.    Subsidiarity: Necessity of EU action    

3.3.    Subsidiarity: Added value of EU action    

4.    Objectives: What is to be achieved?    

4.1.    General objectives    

4.2.    Specific objectives    

5.    What are the available policy options?    

5.1.    What is the baseline from which options are assessed?    

5.1.1.    Dynamic baseline: EU level measures    

5.1.2    Dynamic baseline: Member States measures    

5.2.    Options discarded at an early stage    

5.3.    Description of the policy options    

6.    What are the impacts of the policy options?    

6.1.    Fundamental rights    

6.2.    Social impacts    

6.3.    Economic impact    

6.3.1    Estimated benefits: reduction of costs of violence    

6.3.2    Administrative and compliance costs for Member States and employers    

6.3.3    Summary of costs and economic benefits    

7.    How do the options compare?    

7.1.    Effectiveness    

7.2.    Efficiency    

7.3.    Coherence    

7.4.    Preferred option    

8.    How will actual impacts be monitored and evaluated?    



Glossary

Term or acronym

Meaning or definition

Asylum-seeking women and girls

A woman or a girl who has left her country of origin to seek international protection.

Child

Any person below 18 years of age.

Coercive control

Oppressive conduct that is typically characterised by tactics to intimidate, degrade, isolate and control the victim. Can be combined with physical abuse and sexual coercion.

Domestic violence

All acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within the family or domestic unit, or between former or current spouses or partners, regardless of whether the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim. Domestic violence can target anyone in the family unit and covers for instance women, men, children, older people and same-sex partners.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Forced abortion

Intentional termination of a pregnancy without the prior and informed consent of the victim (woman or girl).

Gender

Socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women, men, girls and boys. This includes the relationship among and between these socially constructed norms, behaviours and roles.

Gender bias

Prejudiced actions or thoughts based on the perception that women are not equal to men in rights and dignity.

Gender stereotype

A generalised view about attributes or characteristics, or the roles that should be performed by women and men in a given society. A gender stereotype is harmful when it limits individuals’ capacities to develop personal abilities, pursue careers or make other life choices.

Gender-sensitive policies

Policies that take into account the particularities pertaining to the lives of women and men, in all their diversity, while aiming to eliminate inequalities and promote gender equality, including an equal distribution of resources, thus taking into account the gender dimension.

General support services

Help offered through for instance social services, health services and employment services. General support services provide short and long-term help and are not exclusively designed for victims of violence against women or domestic violence, but serve the public at large.

Secondary victimisation

When the victim suffers further harm due to the manner in which institutions and individuals approach the victim. Secondary victimisation may be caused, for instance, by repeated exposure of the victim to the perpetrator, repeated interrogation about the same facts or the use of inappropriate or insensitive language by those who come into contact with the victim.

Sexual harassment

Any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

So-called “honour crimes” against women and girls

Acts of violence that are disproportionately, though not exclusively, committed against girls and women, because family members consider that certain suspected, perceived or actual behaviours bring dishonour to the family or community.

Specialist support services

Support services targeted to victims of violence against women and domestic violence. Specialist support services can include social, emotional, psychological and financial support, as well as practical and legal support.

Trafficking in human beings

A crime which consists of the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception of persons. Control over the victim is attained through the threat of force or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person. The purpose is the exploitation of the trafficked person. Exploitation includes, as a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation.

Victim

A natural person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss, as a result of violence against women or domestic violence, including child witnesses of such violence.

Violence against women

   

All acts of violence that are directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affect women disproportionately, which result or are likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

Women

Women and girls under the age of 18, in all their diversity.

Term or acronym

Meaning or definition

CEDAW

Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

CFR

Charter of Fundamental Rights

CJEU

Court of Justice of the European Union

DSA

Digital Services Act

DV

Domestic violence

ECHR

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

ECtHR

European Court of Human Rights

EIGE

European Institute for Gender equality

EPRS

European Parliamentary Research Service

FGM

Female genital mutilation

FRA

Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union

GREVIO

Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

Istanbul Convention

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

TEU

Treaty on European Union

TFEU

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

UNCRPD

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

VaW

Violence against women

VRD

Victims’ Rights Directive

WHO

World Health Organization


1.1.    Introduction: Political and legal context

Violence against women and domestic violence are widespread across the European Union and worldwide. When taking office, Commission President von der Leyen announced that the EU should do all it can to prevent violence against women and domestic violence, protect victims and punish offenders. 1  The EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 2  announces key actions for preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence in Europe and, in particular, a legislative proposal tackling such violence. The need to tackle violence against women and domestic violence also figures prominently in the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child (2021-2024) 3 , the EU Strategy on Victims’ Rights (2020-2025) 4 , the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025 5 , and the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 6 . The Gender Action Plan III 7 makes the fight against gender-based violence one of the priorities of the Union’s external action. Gender equality is also the second principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights 8 , which aims to ensure and foster equality of treatment and opportunities between women and men in all areas.

At international level, measures to counter violence against women and domestic violence have been called for since the 1990s, including in the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (‘Istanbul Convention’) is the first instrument in Europe to set binding standards on the matter. While all Member States have signed the Convention, to date, 21 Member States have become parties to it. 9  This means that the remaining six Member States are not bound by the Convention’s standards.

The Commission proposed in 2016 the EU’s accession to the Convention 10 , but this proposal has not yet been adopted by the Council and the accession negotiations have been blocked for several years. The EU’s accession is opposed by the six Member States that have not ratified the Convention due to a political backlash against it, which is partly caused by misunderstandings of certain provisions and exacerbated by disinformation campaigns. 11  On 6 October 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its opinion on the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention. 12 The CJEU clarified that the EU can accede to the Convention even if not all Member States have ratified it, but grants the Council discretion to wait with a vote until consensus has been reached. It is therefore not possible to predict when the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention might take place, and how many Member States would eventually ratify the Convention. While finalisation of the EU’s accession to the Convention remains a key priority for the Commission, the measures of the present initiative are aimed at achieving the objectives of the Convention within the areas of EU competence until such accession has taken place. Once the EU accedes to the Convention, this initiative will implement its provisions within such areas.

This initiative builds on the Istanbul Convention and the Commission’s continued commitment to finalising the EU’s accession. To reach the objectives of the Istanbul Convention in the areas of EU competence, this initiative aims to fill in the gaps identified in the EU acquis in the areas covered by the Convention. It aims at setting up minimum standards concerning the rights of this group of crime victims, binding on the Member States and enforceable by the Commission. This initiative also takes into account recent developments such as the digital transformation and lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The European Parliament has repeatedly called on the Commission to propose legislation on violence against women and domestic violence. 13  In January 2021, it underlined the need for measures to address the disparities in laws and policies between Member States and called for an EU framework directive on the matter. 14 The Parliament has adopted two own-initiative reports, on adding gender-based violence as a new Euro-crime 15 and on combatting gender–based cyber violence. 16  

2.2.    Problem definition

2.1.    What are the problems?

2.1.1Scope

This initiative covers violence against women, and domestic violence against any person. This corresponds to the scope of the Istanbul Convention. Violence against women and domestic violence are commonly addressed together both in the Member States and at international level. This is due to their common features, as explained in detail under section 2.1.2 below.

The key concepts used in this Impact Assessment follow established international definitions, which have been incorporated in the 21 Member States’ national laws, in order to ensure consistency once the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention takes place. Violence against women hence covers all acts of gender-based violence resulting in, or likely to result in, or threatening physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, irrespective of whether they occur in public or in private. 17 The term gender-based violence is commonly used to highlight the dynamics and drivers behind this type of violence. The terms gender-based violence and violence against women are often used interchangeably, as most violence against women is inflicted due to their gender. This Impact Assessment follows the approach of the Istanbul Convention and uses the term violence against women.

Domestic violence occurs within the household either between intimate partners (intimate-partner violence) or between other household members, including inter-generationally between parents and children. Thus, domestic violence covers not only women, but any person living in the household, including men, older people, same-sex partners, non-binary persons 18 , and children.

Most forms of violence against women and domestic violence are criminal acts 19  under national law and such violence, when targeted at women, is a form of sex-based discrimination. 

In order to meet the objective of the Istanbul Convention effectively, this initiative takes into account the fast pace of the current digital transformation; it further deals with cyber-violence and sexual harassment, in particular at work. Although such types of violence are not explicitly covered by the Istanbul Convention, cyber violence against women and intimate partner cyber violence have become increasingly common in recent years. 20  Cyber violence against women refers to online content or activity which targets the victim because she is a woman or targets women victims disproportionately. 21 Cyber violence can also be perpetrated between current or former intimate partners. 22  Cyber violence can take a variety of forms, ranging from cyber stalking and non-consensual sharing of private and intimate images or personal data to sexual cyber harassment. 23  Experiences of online and offline violence are often interlinked. Cyber violence against women is a part of the continuum of the violence victims experience offline. Sexual harassment is included as it is currently covered by a number of gender equality directives which have proven not to be effective in preventing and combatting this type of violence against women (see gap analysis, Annex 8).

Violence against women and girls is a specific phenomenon in that its drivers are different from other types of violence (see section 2.2 below). Gender-based violence may affect both women and men, but women are disproportionately affected (see section 2.1.3. ‘Who is affected’ for details). This is the case in particular for sexual violence. 24  Violence against women is rooted in structural inequalities between women and men and is the manifestation of historically unequal power relations, which have led to discrimination against women. 25 Violence against women is often driven by misogyny. As explained in more detail in section 2.2.2, violence against women entails certain specificities, such as taking place in the private sphere, suffering from systemic under-reporting, disrupted criminal proceedings, the commonly sexual nature of crimes and/or a high prevalence of elements of coercive control. 26  These elements are different compared to most violence experienced by men. For instance, violence against men usually occurs in public settings, is not usually of a sexual nature, and is generally perpetrated by other men. 27  Men are also frequently victims of other types of violence, but are much less often victims of violence targeting them because of their gender. 28  Also the consequences of violence against women include specificities, especially in regard to social consequences, which requires targeted action. Violence against women negatively impacts the physical health of the victims. Sexual violence exposes women to sexually-transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, abortions and miscarriages, and lowers women’s control over their reproductive health. 29 Violence against women and domestic violence also increase the probability of mental health problems, 30 linking to higher rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidal ideation. 31  In light of the above, the scope of the initiative focuses on violence against women, as this manifestation of structural gender inequality with its specific consequences requires a targeted approach, but includes, in relation to domestic violence, also men. Male victims of other types of violence than domestic violence are covered under the Victims’ Rights Directive that is applicable to all victims of crime and the Gender Equality Directives as regards harassment.

Violence on the basis of other grounds of discrimination than sex is not part of the primary scope of the current initiative. This does not mean that such violence does not merit addressing. However, as set out above the dynamics and consequences of violence against women and domestic violence require a specific approach. 32  Nevertheless, special measures address the intersection of sex with other grounds of discrimination included in the Treaties, such as racial or ethnic origin, disability, religion or belief, age or sexual orientation. Also, the provisions regarding domestic violence include victims of such violence in all their diversity, including non-binary people. Specific measures to tackle violence and discrimination based on other grounds than sex are included in relevant sectoral EU initiatives and legislation. 33  However, while this initiative would oblige Member States to implement minimum standards concerning violence against women only in relation to this group of victims, Member States would be encouraged to extend all measures to men and non-binary people.

2.1.2 Problem description

a)High prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence in the EU

Violence against women and domestic violence are widespread across the EU. Their prevalence and scale have been examined most comprehensively in the 2014 survey on violence against women 34 of the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union (FRA), and confirmed in multiple studies and surveys carried out since then. 35 These include the recent FRA survey on crime victims published in February 2021 36 and administrative data gathered by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) from national authorities. 37  

According to the 2014 FRA survey, one woman in three aged 15 or above reported having experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence in the EU. One in 10 women reported having been victim to some form of sexual violence, and one in 20 had been raped. Just over one in five women have suffered physical and/or sexual violence from either a current or previous partner, whilst 43% of women have experienced some form of psychologically abusive and/or controlling behaviour when in a relationship. While both women and men experience cyber violence and harassment, women are overrepresented among victims of cyber violence perpetrated based on the victim’s sex, in particular sexual forms of cyber violence. 38 In addition, women and girls more often report serious and disturbing forms of such violence, and report feeling more vulnerable after such violence and more harshly judged as victims. 39 Usage of the internet and social media increases the risk of cyber violence. 40 In a global 2017 survey on online abuse in eight countries, on average 23% of women reported having experienced abuse or harassment online. 41 The 2014 FRA survey suggested that 20% of women aged 18–29 years old had experienced cyber violence since the age of 15. 42 In 2020, the World Wide Web Foundation found that 52% of young women were affected and over 80% were of the opinion the phenomenon was increasing. 43 In a recent study, more than 50% of all respondents replied they did not dare express political opinions due to fear of online targeting. 44 Data from 2017 illustrate that 70% of women victims of cyber stalking also experienced at least one form of physical or/and sexual violence from an intimate partner (see section 2.1.1 above). 45 Experiences of online and offline violence are often interlinked, showing that it is important to tackle them together.

Women also experience violence at work. About a third of women who have faced sexual harassment in the EU experienced it at work. According to the FRA survey, 32% of perpetrators of sexual harassment faced by women since they were 15 were from the employment context such as colleagues, supervisors or clients. 46  When asked whether the perpetrator of sexual harassment was male or female, 71% of victims indicated that the perpetrator of an incident since the age of 15 was a man, 2% indicated a female perpetrator and 21% pointed to both male and female harassers. The results reflect that, although the sex of many perpetrators is unknown because of the nature of harassment – such as through the internet – this form of violence against women is perpetrated mostly by men. 47  

The administrative data collected by EIGE shows that the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence may be estimated at 21.2% (2019 figures), i.e. one in five women in the EU experienced violence against women or domestic violence. This figure is based on administrative data and only includes acts reported to the authorities. The severity, i.e. the percentage of women who experienced health consequences of physical and/or sexual violence, was estimated at 46.9%. The rate of disclosure to anyone of this kind of violence was estimated at 14.3%. It follows that almost half of these incidences cause health consequences for the victims but less than one in seven of them is reported.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, violence against women and children, particularly domestic violence, has increased. 48 Stakeholders noted an increase in contact to helplines for victims of violence against women and domestic violence during the pandemic; an increase in the demand for specialised support services (emergency accommodation, counselling services); an increase of reports to law enforcement and in numbers of emergency protection orders issued in cases of such violence, while support services were required to reduce or temporarily stop work; an increase in risk factors for violence due to the pandemic (e.g. isolation, stress, working from home), coupled with a decrease in accessibility of victim support. Even if measures were taken to address this rise in violence, many victims were not in a position to look for help. This was often because victims were forbidden from leaving their homes, but also subject to technological control such as webcams, smart locks or a control via social media. 49 Pending the end of the pandemic and the full manifestation of its social and economic consequences, it is still unclear whether this increase in incidence is temporary (e.g. an increase in intensity) or indicative of a trend. Although both the EU and its Member States, have taken measures to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, significant gaps remain, both at the level of legislation and its implementation.

 

b)Gaps at national level

The studies carried out in support of this impact assessment 50 show the fragmentation of the national regulatory frameworks. The heterogeneity of the existing measures correlates with different legal, historical and political traditions of the Member States. Standards of protection vary significantly between the Member States and the rights of victims of violence against women and domestic violence are not always enforced in practice. This leads to unequal protection depending on where in the EU violence against women and domestic violence is experienced. It is also problematic in situations where the victim moves or otherwise exercises their right to free movement in the EU. The gap analysis in Annex 8 provides a detailed assessment of gaps in the relevant EU and national legislation as well as the shortcomings in its implementation. The main gaps at national level are presented below, structured into the five problem areas which have been identified as relevant by the Istanbul Convention: prevention, protection, access to justice, victim support and policy coordination. Gaps at EU-level are set out in section c) below.

(1)Ineffective prevention of violence

All Member States have introduced prevention measures. In response to the targeted consultation, 23 Member States reported having organised awareness raising campaigns 51 on violence against women and/or domestic violence. This is supported by the public consultation. In-country research, however, highlights a number of shortcomings with the existing campaigns, namely that they do not reach target groups meaningfully, with little emphasis on the right to be protected against violence against women and domestic violence. The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) has also noted challenges related to awareness-raising programmes. 52 Although there are some good measures in place, they tend to focus on domestic violence, are too short-term and do not sufficiently target the problem of intersectionality. According to the gap analysis (see Annex 8), there is also a lack of awareness-raising initiatives to tackle underlying stereotypical attitudes (BE, IT, NL, PT) 53 as well as insufficient teaching material on gender equality (FI, IT, MT, SE) 54 .

Training is important to increase professionals’ skills to recognise victims. While general training is widely available to professionals, 55  targeted violence against women and domestic violence trainings, particularly concerning the interactions of police and judicial authorities with victims, are lacking. Moreover, trainings are not compulsory in most Member States for several categories of professionals. They are also not institutionalised and not available in the same manner and frequency for all categories. While police, judges, lawyers, and prosecutors are the most likely to receive training, few Member States provide other personnel in public administration who come into contact with victims with training. 56  Lack of training of social workers and relevant court appointed professionals has been identified as insufficient in some Member States (FR, IT, MT, PT). 57 Many Member States have insufficient initial and in-service trainings and lack of guidelines based on a gendered understanding of violence against women and domestic violence (AT, BE, DK, FI, FR, IT, MT, NL, PT, ES, SE 58 ). Staff of relevant services should likewise be aware of the effects of domestic violence on children, including of witnessing domestic violence (FR, IT).

Work with perpetrators to prevent re-offending, as well as with men and boys at risk of offending, has a positive impact on combating violence against women and domestic violence. 59  While all but one Member State (HU) have set up support programmes for perpetrators of violence against women and domestic violence, these programmes are often not structured, primarily targeting domestic violence and not always compulsory. 60  In many Member States, programmes for perpetrators are not sufficiently available or suffer from low attendance (DK, IT, PT, AT, FI, MT, NL). 61

Regarding sexual harassment at work, the gap analysis identified shortcomings in the effectiveness of the implementation of the Gender Equality Directives, 62 which require Member States to take measures to prevent all forms of sex-based discrimination in the areas of employment and access to and supply of goods and services. 63 They however do not contain explicit provisions on preventing such harassment. Gaps identified in the Member States include insufficient knowledge of the issue by relevant professionals. 64 EU law does not include explicit obligations on the prevention of cyber violence against women either. 65  

(2)Ineffective protection from violence

Many Member States have made efforts to put measures in place to protect victims of violence against women and domestic violence, including against intimidation or retaliation by the perpetrator, but these are insufficient in some Member States. 66 While mid- and long-term protection orders are available in all Member States, these orders are not always effective. In addition, emergency protection or barring orders where the police are allowed to prevent an alleged or potential perpetrator of violence from entering the victim’s apartment and its immediate surroundings, are available only in 18 Member States. 67  Even where protection orders are available, their practical application remains low. Factors which might contribute to this are notably the length of proceedings and the limited enforcement of the measures, in particular insufficient sanctions for breaches of the orders and a lack of awareness on their availability. In some Member States, there is a lack of effective and immediate protection after reporting (AT, EE, DE, NL, PL, PT). 68  Also, victims who move or travel abroad risk losing protection, since the wide divergence of national measures remain an obstacle to the recognition of measures issued in their home country in other Member States. 

As set out in detail in the gap analysis (Annex 8), an individual assessment of the specific protection needs of victims of violence against women and domestic violence is absent in eight Member States (CZ, BE, EE, LU, MT, RO, SI and SK). 69  Measures ensuring specific protection of child victims or witnesses of violence against women and domestic violence also remain insufficient. Relevant professionals lack appropriate training to provide protection and support in a child-friendly manner (FR, IT), sufficient psychological counselling is not provided for child witnesses (AT, FI, FR, ES) and child witnesses are not always considered victims of violence. 70  Reporting of violence by children should be child-friendly 71 , and there should be a possibility for visits with family members suspected of this kind of violence to take place in a safe, surveyed place and in the best interest of the child 72 (arrangements in place e.g. in ES, FI, DE, MT). 73

(3)Ineffective access to justice for victims of violence

Several shortcomings limit access to justice for victims of violence against women and domestic violence. 74  While the majority of violence against women and domestic violence offences are criminalised in all Member States, gaps and divergences in national criminal law remain. 75  Large gaps exist with respect to cyber violence against women and intimate partner cyber violence, such as ICT-facilitated stalking and non-consensual dissemination of private images. In 17 Member States, non-consensual dissemination of intimate/private/sexual images online has not been criminalised (AT, BG, HR, CY, CZ, DK, EE, FI, DE, EL, HU, LV, LT, LU, RO, SK, SI). 76  Gaps in criminalisation also exist in the area of domestic violence, because the majority of national definitions require repetition of violent acts in order for them to fall under the criminal offence of domestic violence. Such a requirement of re-victimisation can pose challenges for prosecution, as well as reinforce secondary victimisation. Also, sexual violence within intimate relationships is not always recognised as domestic violence. 77

The use of force or threats as an essential element of rape is required in 16 Member States instead of focusing on lack of consent, as recommended by human rights bodies. 78 This results in unequal protection and an important gap in access to justice for victims of sexual violence across the EU. Gaps also exist with respect to other forms of violence against women and domestic violence, which may negatively affect access to justice: female genital mutilation (FGM) is not a specific criminal offence in 9 Member States, forced marriages are not explicitly criminalised in 7 Member States 79  and while all Member States have criminalised forced abortion, forced sterilization has been introduced as a specific criminal offense only in France, Malta, Portugal and Spain.

The lack of targeted training on violence against women and domestic violence for law enforcement and judicial authorities can lead to insufficiencies in the investigation and the judicial process. The majority of Member States have established ex officio prosecution for some violence against women and domestic violence crimes, yet a small minority have dedicated guidelines for the prosecution to ensure that this is done effectively in a manner taking into consideration the specificities of this kind of crime.

Difficulties in evidencing violence during judicial proceedings can also form a barrier to accessing justice. In particular in cases of sexual violence, there are typically no witnesses and there may be no physical signs left by the time the victim has a medical examination. It is also often not clear who (the police, medical professionals, support organisations) should be responsible for providing information and support. The prospect of investigation and prosecution can hinder a victim from reporting a crime and initiating judicial proceedings, as victims may want to avoid secondary victimisation by not repeating the original trauma during the proceedings. 80 Lack of measures protecting victims against retaliation and repeat victimization has been identified as a gap in some Member States (AT, FR, DE, NL, PL, PT). 81 Lack of reporting was highlighted by six Member State authorities in the targeted consultation as one of the main challenges in the prosecution of cases of GBV (BE, BG, CY, DE, IE, RO). 82

Furthermore, access to compensation has not been effective with regard to victims of gender-based violence, including violence against women and domestic violence. 83 The amount of compensation is very low, which may have particularly damaging consequences for victims of VAW/DV as they often need to re-build an independent and violence-free life of dignity, especially as domestic violence can often occur in situations of economic dependence. 84  In addition, victims may have to go through both criminal and civil proceedings to claim compensation, which exposes them to a high risk of revictimisation. 85  Some Member States have restricted time limits to apply for state compensation (AT, CY, HR, HU 86 , EL 87 ). Finally, victims are not aware of their rights (see gap analysis, Annex 8).

Regarding sex-based, including sexual, harassment, reporting and dispute resolution mechanisms are often not readily accessible or gender-sensitive, and involve lengthy proceedings. 88  The Gender Equality Directives require Member States to prohibit sex-based and sexual harassment and provide effective remedies in the areas of employment and access to and supply of goods and services. Lacking criminalisation of sexual harassment (see also Section 3.1.1), retaliation measures towards complainants, lack of case-law, and insufficient knowledge of the issue by relevant professionals are identified as gaps in the Member States. 89

Stakeholders indicate that victims of cyber violence against women and intimate partner cyber violence often struggle in accessing remedies. Law enforcement is often not adequately aware or equipped to address the specificities of the digital dimension of violence against women and domestic violence. In particular, there are often no facilities to report incidents online and cyber violence may be harder to prosecute for non-specialised authorities. 90  Insufficient information on what constitutes cyber violence and on the reporting options also leads to underreporting. 91  

The role of national equality bodies to deal with cases of violence against women beyond sexual harassment is limited in the majority of the Member States, which equally limits access to justice (BG, HR, CY, CZ, DK, FI, FR, EL, HU, IE, IT, LT, LV, LU, MT, NL, PL, RO, SK, ES. 92

(4)Ineffective support to victims of violence

Support services, such as counselling and shelters for victims, are fundamental in ensuring the well-being of victims, need to be based on an understanding of the victim’s specific needs and be available for all victims in a manner that ensures confidentiality and privacy.

While all Member States have general support services in place, i.e. service provision to the public at large, including social services, health services and employment services, stakeholders 93 identified an insufficient number of specialist support services for victims of violence against women and domestic violence, which can cover targeted social, emotional, psychological and financial support, as well as practical and legal support specifically designed for victims of violence against women and of domestic violence. For example, there is a gap in specialised support services dealing with forms of violence against women other than domestic violence, such as sexual violence (AT, BE, FR, MT, PT, ES). 94  There is, in particular, an insufficient number of shelters available to victims of violence against women and domestic violence. GREVIO refers to discrepancies in the information provided by Member State authorities and civil society organisations on the numbers of shelters and observes that, with the exception of Austria and Malta, Member States are not close to reaching the target put forward by the Council of Europe to set up one family place per 10,000 heads of population. 95

There are furthermore limitations to accessing the existing support due to conditions related to citizenship, residency, economic means, or dependents (children). In some Member States, women with children have more difficulties to be accepted to support services or supported. In the majority of Member States, access to shelters is particularly difficult for women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities. In several Member States, specialised support services are available only to citizens of the country or even to residents of the respective area/region/municipality. The gap analysis shows that there are significant barriers for migrant and asylum seeking women to access general and/or specialised support services (BE, DK, IT, NL,ES, SE). 96  There are also problems of access to support services depending on geographical location. Access to support may also depend on the victim’s willingness to bring charges against the perpetrator.

While several Member States have developed a wider and stronger network of specialist support services that assists victims of domestic violence, a gap has been identified concerning specialised support to children, including child witnesses of violence against women and domestic violence, especially of psycho-social counselling and other child-sensitive support. 97  Such support needs to be provided with regard to the best interests of the child and their needs, which may exclude shelters as the primary temporary housing solution. 98  The gap analysis also identified a lack or insufficiency of national state-wide, 24/7 and free of charge helplines to women victims of violence (BE, BG, HR, CY, CZ, FI, FR, EL, HU, IE, LV, LT, LU, MT, NL, PL, PT, SI). 99 There is also lack of multilingual support on national women’s helplines (BE, HR, CZ, HU, LV, LT, MT, NL, PL, PT, SI). 100

There are also gaps in support for victims of cyber violence against women. The gap analysis identified a lack of measures tackling this kind of violence and the related support services in the majority of the Member States (AT, BE, BG, HR, CY, CZ, DK, EE, FI, DE, FR, HU, IE, IT, LV, LT, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SI, ES, SE). 101

Service provision is commonly ensured by victims’ rights and women’s organisations, which are staffed with experienced specialists. These organisations report a lack of sufficient resources for staff, professional training and financial assistance to run the services as well as a lack of recognition of their work by national governments.

(5)Insufficient policy coordination

Due to the involvement of various public and possibly private sector actors in cases of violence against women and domestic violence, coordination is required to ensure concerted action. Coordination at national level can be substantiated by national plans of action that assign each actor a particular role. In addition, due to the high prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence across Europe and globally, Member States participate in international coordination efforts. 102  According to national and desk research, however, the implementation of the legislative and policy framework shows gaps in most Member States. The realities are diverse and complex in each Member State, but commonly identified problems are lack of coordination between different institutions with mandates in the area; differences in resources and in quality of the service delivery between urban and rural/remote or more and less developed areas.

There are also shortcomings in the collection of data on violence against women and domestic violence, as noted by GREVIO in a recent report on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. 103  High quality data is a crucial basis for effective policy-making and these shortcomings make it challenging to form an accurate overview of the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence in the EU. Data on the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence is gathered through administrative data collection and survey data. Data collected from administrative sources is not adequately disaggregated. For example, data on perpetrators are typically not disaggregated by sex, which is an obstacle to the visibility of violence against women and domestic violence in their different forms. Data also does not systematically cover the sex and age of the victim or the relationship with the perpetrator. The lack of sex disaggregated data on victims/perpetrators of violence collected by the criminal justice system has been identified as problem also in the gap analysis in Annex 8 (BE, DK, MT, NL). 104  Moreover, data collection between public bodies is not harmonised. The gap analysis identified this as a problem in several Member States (AT, BE, DK, FI, FR, IT, MT, SE). 105  The lack of co-ordination and comparability of the data (including a lack of common definitions and units of measurement) makes it impossible to track cases at all stages of the law-enforcement and judicial proceedings, and during support. It impedes an assessment of conviction, attrition, and recidivism rates, as well as the identification of gaps in the responses of institutions. An estimated 2/3 of victims do not report violence, and therefore, official criminal justice data only record a limited number of cases. This is why it is important to be able to rely on population survey additionally to police statistics.

The only available, comparable data at the EU level is the FRA survey from 2014. Currently, Eurostat is coordinating an EU survey on gender-based violence and other forms of interpersonal violence. 18 Member States will carry out the survey (which is supported by EU funds) while others declined to participate mostly because of human resources constraints. FRA and EIGE are stepping in to complete the results for these Member States. Results for all countries are expected in 2023. To monitor developments, it would be necessary to carry out the survey on a regular basis by all Member States in the future.

c)Gaps at EU level 

There is currently no specific EU legal instrument addressing violence against women and domestic violence. The topic falls, however, in the scope of application of several directives and regulations, in particular in the areas of criminal justice, gender equality and asylum. The existing EU legal framework for addressing violence against women and domestic violence was assessed for the purposes of this initiative; this assessment concludes that the current legal framework has significant gaps and shortcomings with regard to this group of victims, which has come to the forefront particularly due to the increased risk of domestic violence following the confinement measures of the COVID-19 pandemic (see Annex 8 for details).

The gap analysis in Annex 8 also shows that the relevant EU legislation has been ineffective in preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence. While there is no EU legislation dedicated to such violence, the gap analysis identified 14 EU law instruments which are relevant for victims of violence against women and domestic violence as they either establish general rules applicable also to this category of victims, or establish specific rules on certain forms of such violence. For example, the provisions on protection and access to justice in the Victims’ Rights Directive and the European Protection Orders (‘EPO’) apply to all victims of crime, whereas the Directives on child sexual abuse or trafficking in human beings establish sectoral rules on these forms of violence. In addition, the Gender Equality Directives include provisions on sexual harassment. The assessment supplements and builds on the on-going general evaluations of some of these instruments, in particular those concerning the Victims’ Rights, the Child Sexual Abuse and the Anti-Trafficking Directives. 106

With regard to prevention, the EU framework includes some obligations on awareness-raising, but these either concern victims’ rights in general 107 , or are limited to specific forms of violence, such as trafficking in human beings, child sexual abuse or sexual harassment at work. As to training for professionals, EU legislation provides some obligations for the Member States 108 , but such provisions are not specific to violence against women and domestic violence.

When it comes to protection of victims, the instruments on the mutual recognition of protection orders provide for cross-border recognition of criminal and civil protection orders. However, the take-up of the EPO instruments is very low which limits their effectiveness. Moreover, the instruments do not ensure that effective emergency barring orders and protection orders are available and effective in all Member States. As set out above, emergency protection orders do not exist in all Member States and the modalities for their issuance vary. 109  Lack of efficiency of the protection orders at the national level results in a poor take-up of protection orders in cross-border cases and as a consequence in a very low application of the EU EPO instruments. 110

The insufficient and unequal criminalization of different forms of violence against women and of domestic violence makes it more difficult for victims to access justice. EU-level criminalisations of specific forms of violence against women with harmonised definitions and sanctions are currently included in the Anti-Trafficking and the Child Sexual Abuse Directives. 111 While most conduct of violence against women and domestic violence is criminalised at national level, the situation at EU level leaves important gaps, in particular with regard to sexual harassment and cyber violence against women and intimate partners (see above, Section 2.1.2). This directly impacts the victims’ access to justice. In cases of cyber violence, if national law enforcement mechanisms are unavailable, victims can complain to the online platform. Effective means of redress are however not always provided by the platform, which is particularly problematic for serious forms of cyber violence. 112  Similarly, with regard to sexual harassment, EU law obliges Member States to prohibit sexual harassment as a form of discrimination and impose sanctions. They however do not require, for most serious cases, criminal sanctions. 113  Lack of adequate compensation remains a challenge and obstacle for this group of victims in accessing justice, despite the minimum standards of the Compensation Directive and, for sexual harassment, the Gender Equality Directives. 114  The amount of compensation attributed in violence against women and domestic violence cases is often very low and compensation is not granted in adequate time.

Concerning access to support for this group of victims, the Victims’ Rights Directive has not reached its full potential: implementation remains dissatisfactory. 115  The complexity and broad formulations in the Victims’ Rights Directive often cause obstacles in its practical application. The broad formulation of the provisions concerning support to victims of violence against women and domestic violence further effects the quality of the non-legislative measures taken pursuant to the Directive. Implementation issues were identified in several Member States on access to shelters, including their availability and numbers. Such shortcomings tend to particularly affect victims of violence against women and domestic violence. Moreover, only 13 Member States reported that their specialist support services systematically take into account the special needs of child victims and witnesses in cases of domestic violence and ten additional Member States applied a child sensitive approach in a non-systematic manner. Courts also regularly categorise child witnesses as indirect victims, despite it being standard practice in child protection to consider child witnesses as direct victims due to the psychological harm inflicted. This can hinder children’s access to services, such as counselling.

Regarding cyber violence against women and between intimate partners, the existing EU legal framework does not include specific obligations in this regard. The Victims’ Rights Directive applies to all criminalised conduct, but forms of cyber violence against women are only criminalised in 11 Member States. Hence, victims of such violence are often not eligible for protection and support measures under the Directive.

The Gender Equality Directives 116 establish that sex-based and sexual harassment at work and in the access to goods and services are contrary to the principle of equal treatment between men and women, and oblige Member States to prohibit such conduct, ensure remedies and enforcement, including compensation, and provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties. However, these provisions have not been effective in reducing the prevalence of sexual harassment (see Section 2.1.2 (b) at 1 and 3).

More generally, the gap analysis shows that the relevant EU legislation has been ineffective in ensuring the rights of victims of violence against women and domestic violence. The EU-level measures do not explicitly address victims of violence against women and domestic violence. The relevant obligations are not specific enough with regard to victims of violence against women and domestic violence or leave wide discretion to the Member States. The relevant EU legislation is not up to date; it is on average over ten years old and the international obligations have evolved considerably in the area of violence against women and domestic violence in the meantime (see below).

Finally, EU law is no longer coherent with the international legal and policy framework. Concerning violence against women and domestic violence generally, EU law remains below the standards of the Istanbul Convention and the CEDAW Convention with regard to this group of victims. The relevant provisions of EU law are mainly formulated in a gender-neutral manner and do not require Member States to take into account the specific needs of women victims of violence and victims of domestic violence. In addition, EU law includes few provisions on targeted preventive measures, and fails to address the protection needs of these victims with the specificity required in Chapter VI of the Istanbul Convention. With the exceptions of child sexual abuse and trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation, EU law does not establish harmonised definitions and sanctions of most of the forms of violence against women and domestic violence enumerated in the Istanbul Convention. 117 The framework does not address the rights of witnesses, particularly child witnesses, of such violence. All Member States have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which in its Article 19 includes provisions on prevention, protection, support and access to justice to children affected by violence. General and specific support services to this group of victims are regulated in the Victims’ Rights Directive, but the lack of detail in the provisions has led to ineffective implementation by the Member States. There is currently no obligation on the Member States to collect data specifically on violence against women and domestic violence, and no specific EU-level coordination structures exist on this kind of violence. The gap analysis further finds that action at national level is likely to have resulted from the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in those Member States that are parties.

Since the adoption of the directives, the international #MeToo movement has raised the visibility of sexual harassment against women, potentially encouraging more victims, but also governments, social partners and employers, to take action. 118 In 2019, the International Labour Organization adopted the Violence and Harassment Convention No. 190, which requires parties to prohibit gender-based violence and harassment at work and provides a comprehensive protection, prevention, and support framework for victims. EU law does not ensure the criminalisation of serious forms of sexual harassment; the applicability of the protection and support measures of the Victims’ Rights Directive therefore depends on whether harassment is criminalised under national law. The prevention, protection and support measures concerning sexual harassment are also not as developed as in Convention no. 190.  

Finally, the current EU legislation has not led to effective monitoring and enforcement of the relevant EU rules with regard to violence against women and domestic violence. This is due to the absence of a focus on such violence and the ambiguous drafting of the legal obligations, which has not enabled targeted enforcement measures in the key problem areas relating to violence against women and domestic violence.

2.1.3.Who is affected?

Gender-based violence is disproportionately perpetrated against women. In the majority of cases of physical violence, the perpetrator is a man or a group of men. 119  

Although women and girls account for a far smaller share of total victims of homicides than men, they are overrepresented among victims of intimate partner/family-related homicide, and intimate partner homicide. Victim/perpetrator disaggregations reveal a large disparity in the shares attributable to male and female victims of homicides committed by intimate partners or family members: 36 per cent male versus 64 per cent female victims. 120 These findings show that even though men are the principal victims of homicide globally, women continue to bear the heaviest burden of lethal victimization as a result of gender stereotypes and inequality.  In particular sexual violence is strongly gendered with more than 9 in 10 rape victims and more than 8 in 10 sexual assault victims being women and girls, while nearly all those imprisoned for such crimes are male (99%). 121  Research also suggests that more women than men become victims of sexual harassment or sex discrimination. 122  Incidents of physical violence against women (excluding specifically sexual violence) most often take place at home (37%). Such violence also often involves a family member or a relative as the perpetrator. Thus, although men and non-binary people can also be victims of gender-based violence 123 , the majority of victims are women in all their diversity. 

Cyber violence against women has been found to target in particular young women 124 and women visible in public life. Women in public positions, such as journalists and politicians, experience cyber violence targeting them because they are women and seeking to question their entitlement to participate in societal discussions. This can have a silencing effect on the victims and negatively affect democratic decision-making processes. 125  

Similarly, while both women and men experience harassment, women face more harassment of a sexual nature. In a 2012 survey, up to 55% of women in the EU-28 (ages 18–74) reported having experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15. One in five (21%) had experienced at least one form of sexual harassment in the 12 months before the survey. Such harassment consists of forms such as unwanted touching, hugging or kissing, or sexually suggestive, unwanted comments or cyber harassment. 126 In 2021, 18% of women described the most recent incident of harassment as of a sexual nature, compared with 6% of men.

Women and girls in vulnerable situations, such as women with disabilities, women victims of trafficking in human beings, women prisoners, women migrants and asylum seekers, non-heterosexual women and women sex workers, are at a higher risk of violence. For example, exposure to physical or sexual partner violence differs between women with and without disabilities (34% vs 19%) and non-heterosexual and heterosexual women (48% vs 21%). 127  Human traffickers exploit the particular vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities for the purpose of sexual exploitation 128 .

Children are often seriously affected by violence against women and domestic violence. They can be themselves victims or witnesses of such violence; both experiences are considered to be equally traumatizing. 129 Exposure to violence at an early age can cause impairments to the brain and nervous system development, as well as result in life-long negative coping and health risk behaviours. 130  Children who witness or are victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse are also at higher risk for health problems as adults. These can include mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. 131

While the exact prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence varies among Member States, it is widespread in every Member State regardless of socio-economic boundaries. 132  

2.1.4.Why is violence against women and domestic violence a problem?

Violence against women and domestic violence can violate a number of fundamental rights, including the right to life and to equality between women and men (see Section 6.1). They cause pain and suffering to the victims and result in large costs on the economy and society as a whole. They negatively impact the physical health of the victims. Sexual violence exposes women to sexually-transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, abortions and miscarriages, and lowers women's control over their reproductive health. 133  Violence against women and domestic violence also increase the probability of mental health problems 134 , linking to higher rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidal ideation. 135

Some of the social and health impacts of violence against women and domestic violence can be quantified in terms of costs and/or economic consequences. For the EU, EIGE has carried out two studies on the costs of violence in 2014 and 2021. 136  The 2021 study considers three main sources of costs: direct cost of services (to victims or to public providers); lost economic output; and physical and emotional impacts measured as a reduction in the quality of life. 

Direct cost of services consists of the use of services provided by various sectors to mitigate the harm caused by violence. This includes the use of health services to treat the physical and mental harms; social services; the criminal justice system involved in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cases of violence against women and domestic violence; the civil justice system to e.g. disentangle from a violent partner; and specialist services for the prevention and/or mitigation of the impacts, such as protection and support services. Victims of intimate partner violence may incur costs not covered by the state, notably judicial costs and the costs of a new home.

Violence against women and domestic violence also result in lost economic output, as a result of the victims decreased ability to look for a job or productivity on the job and the time taken off work to handle the consequences of the crime. According to a European Parliament Research Service (‘EPRS’) study 137 , research conducted in Belgium found that 73% of those subjected to domestic violence reported an effect on the ability to work. Another recent EPRS study 138 estimates the lost economic output due to mental health impairments caused by cyber-violence on women, both in terms of lost work days and lower productivity. A study on the costs of violence against women in Italy calculates the costs of work days lost, reduced productivity, and the cost of replacing absent workers. It furthermore calculates the lost tax income and the multiplier effect of households' lost incomes. 139  

The third cost category in the EIGE study is the physical and emotional impact on victims, measuring the loss of healthy life years. 140 This allows a monetary value to be attached to health conditions to translate losses usually not measured in money into economic losses. The greatest source of economic loss due to violence against women and domestic violence is the loss in quality of life that monetises the physical and emotional impacts of violence.

On this basis, the 2021 EIGE study estimates that total yearly costs of gender-based violence against women in the EU-27 stand at €290 billion 141 and almost €152 billion for domestic violence. These costs, consist in large part of physical/emotional impacts (55.57%), criminal justice system (20.43%) and lost economic output (13.93%) (see Annexes 3 and 5). 142  

2.2.    What are the drivers?

2.2.1Structural gender inequality and gender stereotypes 

Whilst there is no single cause for violence against women and domestic violence, some of the most consistent drivers are harmful social norms and stereotypes that contribute to gender inequality. 143  Such social norms concern the roles of women and men; harmful gender stereotypes include ideals linking masculinity to the provider role, macho behaviour, as well as ideals linking femininity to chastity, submission and victimhood. 144 The WHO has identified community norms that ascribe higher status to men, low levels of women’s access to paid employment, and low level of gender equality as factors increasing the risk of violence against women and domestic violence. 145  

Societal norms affect perpetrators’ and bystanders’ behaviours. Perpetrators may not consider their act of violence as morally reproachable. 146 Gender roles and stress over masculine gender roles have been found to strengthen tolerance toward violence against women 147 , which may, in turn, be caused by factors such as negative stereotypes towards women. Tolerant attitudes towards violence against women may be further encouraged by the social environment, leading to a circle of violence. 148

Another key cause of attitudes and behaviour is the lack of a common understanding of violence against women. 149 The 2016 special Eurobarometer on gender-based violence depicts these problematic assumptions, as 27% of the respondents said that sexual intercourse without consent may be justified in at least some situations. 150 Although most people would agree that rape is morally wrong (i.e. negative attitude), not all would agree on what constitutes rape.

Tolerant attitudes towards violence against women have also been observed with respect to some forms of sex-based harassment. In some Member States, tackling sex harassment at work was not considered a real issue. 151  Some forms of violence against women and domestic violence are sometimes considered a private matter. Thus, in the 2016 Eurobarometer, one in six respondents believed that domestic violence should be handled within the family. About one in five expressed victim-blaming views, agreeing that women make up or exaggerate claims. Just under one in five (17%) held that violence against women is often provoked by the victim, with respondents in the Eastern European Member States the most likely to agree. 152

2.2.2.Failure to recognise the specificities of crimes and offences relating to violence against women and domestic violence

Criminal acts of violence against women and domestic violence have specific characteristics, such as systemic under-reporting, disrupted criminal proceedings 153 , the commonly sexual nature of crimes and a high prevalence of elements of coercive control. Rates of reporting violence against women and domestic violence to the police are low. 154 According to the FRA 2014 survey, victims reported the most serious incident of partner violence to the police only in 14% of cases and the most serious incident of non-partner violence in 13% of cases. 155 In 2021, FRA confirmed that reporting of violence and harassment in general was less common than that of other crime, and that reporting crime to the police was less common when the perpetrator was a family member or a relative (only 22% of incidents were reported). 156  

The reasons for not reporting violence against women and domestic violence are multiple. They include the trouble involved in reporting an incident if the victim perceives that the police will not take her seriously or will be unwilling to do anything about the crime. Furthermore, for around one quarter of victims of sexual violence by a partner or non-partner, feeling ashamed or embarrassed about what happened was the reason for not reporting the incident to the police or a support organisation. Victims may also fear retaliation from the perpetrator or consider the violence a private matter. 157 In addition, they may be hesitant to report an incident perpetrated by a family member or, in cases of sex-based or sexual harassment at work, a hierarchical superior or a colleague.

The above specificities hamper efforts to effectively address violence against women and domestic violence. Incidents may be difficult for authorities to address, since victims may not disclose their experience or withdraw statements and discontinue participation in investigations or court proceedings. These dynamics interfere with efforts to ensure an appropriate follow-up within the judicial system or through support mechanisms. They also underline the need to ensure the accessibility of support regardless of whether the victim has officially reported the violence.

Due to the specificities of crimes and offences relating to violence against women and domestic violence, gender-sensitive measures are needed. In their Evaluation Report on Finland, GREVIO noted that gender-neutral approach in policy making and service provision is not sufficient and does not provide women victims of violence and domestic violence effective protection, support and access to justice. GREVIO notes that this may not always do justice to the particular experiences of women as victims of domestic violence, who are more frequently and more severely impacted. 158 Moreover, the European Court of Human Rights also requires Member States to adopt a gender-sensitive approach in their measures to prevent and combat such violence (see Section 6.1 for details). 

Figure 1 - Problem tree

2.3.     How will the problem evolve?

Based on the evolution of the situation in the past decades, it is unlikely that the prevalence of all forms of violence against women and domestic violence, as measured through administrative and survey data, will decrease significantly without additional policy intervention. All Member States have adopted policy and legislative measures on this kind of violence, and 21 Member States have taken measures pursuant to their obligations under the Istanbul Convention. The gaps concerning prevention, protection, access to justice, support and coordination can however be expected to persist (see Section 3.1.3). 159 Stakeholders, such as non-governmental and international organisations, note that without further action at EU level, national legislation and practice are unlikely to develop sufficiently and in a coordinated manner in line with international standards to ensure that the needs of victims of violence against women and domestic violence are sufficiently addressed throughout the EU (see Annex 2).

3.3.    Why should the EU act?

3.1.     Legal basis

The initiative pursues the general objective of preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence. As confirmed in Declaration No. 19 on Article 8 of the TFEU, combatting ‘all kinds of domestic violence’ is part of the Union’s general efforts to eliminate inequalities between women and men and Member States should take all necessary measures to prevent and punish these criminal acts and to support and protect the victims.

The initiative would build on the Victims’ Rights Directive and establish minimum standards on the rights of victims of all forms of violence against women and domestic violence, constituting a lex specialis to this Directive, in the same way as victims of terrorism and trafficking have been addressed through specific legislation. It would include measures aimed at preventing this kind of violence, and ensuring adequate protection, access to justice, support and coordination before, during or after criminal proceedings by responding to the specific needs of victims of violence against women and domestic violence. The relevant legal basis, in line with the Victims’ Rights Directive, would be Article 82(2) TFEU. This provision provides for the establishment of minimum rules concerning the rights of victims of crime, to the extent necessary to facilitate mutual recognition of judgments and judicial decisions and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters having a cross-border dimension.

In addition, the initiative would introduce minimum standards on the definition of criminal offences in the areas of crime set out in Art. 83(1) relating to sexual exploitation of women and children and computer crime. Article 83(1) TFEU allows for the establishment of minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension resulting from the nature or impact of such offences or from a special need to combat them on a common basis.

It would further introduce, on the basis of Art. 83(2), minimum rules concerning the definition of serious forms of sexual harassment to ensure effective application of the Gender Equality Directives, which regulate this matter by providing definitions and requiring prohibitions and sanctions for sex-based and sexual harassment. 160  Article 83(2) provides for the establishment of minimum rules with regard to the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in an area which has been subject to harmonisation measures, if the approximation proves essential to ensure the effective implementation of the Union’s policy in this area. The background studies conducted for the initiative show that the implementation of the relevant provisions has not been effective, and sexual harassment continues to remain common in the Member States. 161  In order to ensure effective implementation of the policy, harmonisation measures with regard to the definition and sanctions of serious forms of sexual harassment are essential to ensure the effective implementation of the Union’s policy.

When proposing EU accession to the Istanbul Convention, the Commission took the view that the appropriate legal bases for action in regard to the matters covered by the Convention are the Treaty provisions in the fields of judicial cooperation in criminal matters and crime prevention. In its Opinion on the EU accession of 6 October 2021 162 , the CJEU confirmed that view. The Court takes a broad view on the types of measures that can be adopted on these legal bases, in particular in the areas of prevention, protection, victim support, and access to justice 163 , as envisaged in this initiative. The Court also clarified that aspects of substantive criminal law remain the primary responsibility of Member States and that criminalisation of specific types of conduct remains to a great extent subject to national law. The initiative takes this into account by proposing criminalisation only to a very limited extent. It would thus be based on the combined legal basis of Art. 82(2) and 83(1) 164  and 83(2) TFEU 165 . These provisions provide for the adoption of directives in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure as the appropriate instrument.

3.2.     Subsidiarity: Necessity of EU action

The continuous EU-wide prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence and the serious harm caused to individual victims and societies create a special need to combat such violence on a common basis in the EU. In light of prevalence data and cost estimations, the impact on European societies is considerable. Millions of EU citizens and persons residing in the EU are concerned. Violence against women and domestic violence violate the fundamental rights of citizens and affects gender equality, one of the fundamental values of the EU.

In addition, cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships has emerged as a new form of violence against women and domestic violence, spreading and amplifying beyond individual Member States. The internet is inherently a cross-border environment, where content hosted in one Member State can be accessed from another Member State. As noted in the DSA proposal, interventions by one Member State will be insufficient to solve the issue. 166  

In some cases, violence against women and domestic violence includes a physical cross-border element. On average 8% of women in the EU-27 report having experienced physical violence in the past five years. 167 This corresponds to more than 19 million women in the EU-27. On average 3% of women victims of all physical violence reported the violence to have taken place abroad. 168  Although it is not possible to establish the precise share, women victims of violence against women and domestic violence in cross-border situations are likely to be in the order of several hundreds of thousands in Europe annually, also taking into account possible underreporting.

In other cases, the cross-border nature may arise at a certain point during proceedings, for instance, if a suspect flees or a victim moves to another country. Even after criminal proceedings have concluded with a final judgment imposing a sentence on the defendant in the Member State of nationality, the case can necessitate judicial cooperation between Member States. 169 Cross-border elements may equally arise when criminal cases are transferred to another Member State. 170  

The current initiative not only covers physical cross-border dimensions of violence against women and domestic violence, but the rights of victims of these crimes in general. In its opinion of 6 October 2021, the Court broadly lists the measures in the Convention related to victims’ rights (prevention, protection, support, access to justice) for which the EU has competence, not presupposing the existence of a physical cross-border element in all respects of the problem considered.

Within the limits of EU competence as indicated by the CJEU, the issue should be addressed at EU level in order to ensure a minimum level of protection of victims’ rights and fundamental rights. The objective is not to achieve harmonised, equal protection everywhere in the EU, but to establish minimum standards for rights from which all victims of such violence in the EU should benefit. The existence of minimum standards would also facilitate the mutual recognition of protection orders and judicial decisions concerning violence across the EU, thereby supporting a better application of the existing acquis in this area (see section 2.1.2).

3.3.     Subsidiarity: Added value of EU action

All Member States have addressed violence against women and domestic violence in legislation and policies, as explained in Section 2.1.2. Some Member States have demonstrated strong commitment to address such violence through innovative and effective measuring, including during the Covid-19 pandemic. 171  Over the last decades, the acknowledgement of this kind of crime has led to the adoption of specialised national and international frameworks. While these measures testify to the existence of the problem, they have not led to an observable decrease in this kind of violent crime in the EU.

As discussed under Section 2.1.2, the approaches taken by Member States have also not been sufficiently effective in guaranteeing the safety and protection of victims. The multitude of national approaches creates legal uncertainty on the rights of victims of violence against women and domestic violence. The fragmentation is more substantial at regional and local levels, where differences in access to protection and support services are observed.

The EU already supports the Member States in addressing this kind of violence, but EU-action has been limited to non-legislative measures (see Section 5.1.1). The funding and awareness-raising efforts have not been sufficiently effective in decreasing the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence as criminal acts. Thus, legislative measures are necessary for addressing this kind of violent crime in an effective and sustainable manner.

While the effectiveness of national measures ultimately depends on Member States’ resources and efforts, EU level action can increase their effectiveness by specifying minimum standards and adding value in line with good practices and recommendations of international monitoring bodies and research. EU-legislation on violence against women and domestic violence would further align the EU legal framework with internationally recognised norms and permit coordinated action at EU level. It would enable the EU to enact more specific obligations (see Section 5.3 – description of the policy options) and be a standard-setter in preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence. 172 Through the approximation of criminal definitions and sanctions, it would ensure victims’ access to justice in areas where specific gaps have been identified. 173

The initiative would oblige the six Member States who have not ratified the Istanbul Convention to undertake, to the extent not yet done on their own initiative, measures that correspond to the minimum level of protection needed to tackle this kind of violence. For the 21 Member States who are parties, the new EU measures fill identified gaps in implementation and effectiveness and enable further measures to be taken in a coordinated manner.

While the initiative would be adopted by qualified majority, it would feature a number of mitigating measures that it could make it acceptable to the six Member States that have not ratified the Istanbul Convention: in particular, the initiative would be limited in scope to areas of EU competence, and could clarify concepts prone to misconceptions. 174  

Further EU action would allow the EU to support Member States in their efforts to implement their fundamental rights obligations in this field. It would enhance legal certainty by setting minimum standards to ensure that all Member States take measures in all policy areas regardless of where in the EU the victims find themselves, and that national measures reach the level that is considered necessary for effectively addressing such violence.

Targeted EU action would create added value in particular by enabling effective monitoring and enforcement. This is a decisive advantage of EU law, since international human rights bodies do not have the possibility to launch infringement proceedings against a Member in cases of non-compliance with the Convention. While Member States may take further measures to comply with international obligations (notably following periodic reporting to GREVIO and the CEDAW Committee), the added value of corresponding EU law obligations would be to ensure compliance more swiftly and effectively. EU-level measures would also allow for comprehensive EU-level data collection and contribute to a more nuanced understanding on this kind of violence.

4.4.    Objectives: What is to be achieved?

4.1.     General objectives

The general objective of the initiative is to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence as criminal acts and a form of discrimination between women and men as part of the European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice foreseen in Title V TFEU.

4.2.     Specific objectives

The initiative pursues a number of specific objectives aimed at responding to the needs of this group of victims:

-Ensuring effective prevention of violence against women and domestic violence: ensuring that effective measures are in place to prevent violence against women and domestic violence, including awareness-raising and information provision, training, work with perpetrators and the involvement of men and boys.

-Ensuring effective protection of victims of violence against women and domestic violence: ensuring that effective measures are in place to protect victims from violence online or offline, at work or in private.

-Ensuring effective access to justice in cases of violence against women and domestic violence: improving access to justice for victims of violence against women and domestic violence including through EU-level approximation of criminal definitions and sanctions related to specifically serious forms of violence against women; effective remedies for all forms of such violence; as well as by ensuring gender-sensitivity and respect for the rights of child victims and witnesses.

-Ensuring effective victim support in cases of violence against women and domestic violence: ensuring the availability of general and specialised support services, in sufficient numbers and of a high quality, including those addressing the effects of violence on physical and mental health.

-Ensuring strengthened coordination in preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence: ensuring effective and efficient coordination and cooperation, including through multi-agency approach and improved data collection on violence against women and domestic violence.

The intervention logic of the initiative is summarised in Figure 2:

Figure 2 - Intervention logic

5.5.    What are the available policy options?

5.1.    What is the baseline from which options are assessed?

5.1.1.Dynamic baseline: EU level measures

Under the baseline scenario, the EU would continue to address violence against women and domestic violence through the existing EU legislative instruments described in Section 2.1.2. As regards cyber violence against women and between intimate partners, this framework would be updated by the DSA 175 which addresses emerging risks in the online space, including to women’s safety online, by setting out a horizontal framework for regulatory oversight, accountability and transparency of intermediary service providers. The DSA would notably oblige service providers to notify suspicions of serious criminal offences involving a threat to the life or safety of persons; this would be likely to include content inciting to serious physical and sexual violence against women, including gender-based killings of women. The DSA would also oblige very large platforms to undertake risk assessments concerning fundamental rights, including risks related to non-discrimination. The DSA, however, does not define what is illegal or criminal. The effectiveness of the obligations in the DSA thus depends on whether gender-based cyber violence is clearly illegal in either Member State or in EU law. The Commission would continue to monitor the implementation of the relevant legislation and, whenever possible, enforce it with regard to victims of violence against women and domestic violence.

The Commission would further implement the non-legislative measures announced in the EU Gender Equality Strategy: It would launch an EU network on the prevention of violence against women and domestic violence, issue a Recommendation on the prevention of harmful practices against women and girls 176 and develop a Code of Conduct between online platforms and stakeholders to better protect women’s safety online. The Code of Conduct would provide for self-regulatory measures for service providers to counter illegal and harmful content which is not always illegal, thus complementing the DSA with non-legislative measures.

In addition, the Commission would continue to provide funding under the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV) 177 to Member States and non-governmental organisations to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence and conduct communication activities on the issue. 178  The Commission has been taking policy actions and funding national activities in this field, including on prevention and support services since 1997. 179  Initially, the Commission has funded organisations and projects tackling violence against women and children through the Daphne funding programme, which was later integrated as a funding stream into the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme and the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) Programme. Based on rough estimates, the Commission has funded over 800 projects to combat violence against women and children with more than 250 million euros since 1997. Under the CERV programme, the Commission expects to spend approximately €150 million through the Daphne strand to tackle violence against women and children throughout the course of the programme. This represents almost 10% of the total budget of CERV (€1.55 billion).

The EU-level actions of the baseline are likely to remain limited in effect, since they would constitute a continuation of the policy actions taken by the Commission for several decades. While important, the baseline policy actions would not suffice to prompt Member States to step up their national measures on violence against women and domestic violence and to adequately prevent such violence, protect and support victims, ensure access to justice and establish better policy coordination. In the absence of further legislation in this area, the possibilities to enforce the existing EU-level legal measures would remain limited given the shortcomings outlined above. EU funding under the Daphne strand of the Citizenship, Equality, Rights and Values programme is essential to support organisations and projects working on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence on the ground. However, despite a significant increase in the programme’s budget and an increased focus on sustainability, the financing of projects and organisations has inherent limits and cannot replace structural changes in national legislation and state institutions. The interim evaluation report of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme shows that in general, the Programme activities are contributing to the achievement of its objectives, but the impact on specific objectives such as gender equality is quite moderate, as more structural societal changes are needed. 180

5.1.2Dynamic baseline: Member States measures

The baseline takes into account the evolving situation in the Member States and the national measures taken to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. 181 The gap analysis covers the relevant national measures regardless of whether taken as a direct consequence of the country’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention or any other international obligation, as a result of the applicable EU acquis, or as purely national measures. As set out in detail in Section 2.1.2 above, there are significant gaps in the legislative and implementation framework at national level.

While some Member States have demonstrated significant political will and put in place ambitious measures to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, others are lagging behind. Even in Member States where the relevant measures are on a good level overall, GREVIO has identified room for further development (see the gap analysis in Annex 8). The studies referred to above confirm that the national measures remain uneven. This is the situation between those Member States that have ratified Istanbul Convention and those that have not, but also between the Member States that are parties to it.

As explained above, EU accession to the Istanbul Convention remains uncertain; without it, there is little incentive for those Member States that have not yet acceded to step up their national policy response. Member States that are parties to the Convention are required to improve their legal and policy frameworks following GREVIO’s assessment. However, this is a lengthy process: Since 2016, GREVIO has completed baseline assessments of 10 EU Member States and plans to evaluate all states parties by 2027. 182 Subsequently, a further rounds of reporting are foreseen to evaluate the new measures and remaining gaps. GREVIO reports do not set a timeline for Member States to implement the recommendations; the EU Member States that have been evaluated so far have not yet implemented all recommendations. Furthermore, as with all international conventions, the Istanbul Convention does not have an enforcement mechanism that is comparable to the enforcement mechanisms under EU law. Thus, while Member States may eventually achieve full compliance with Istanbul Convention, this is unlikely to cover all EU Member States in the medium term and would take a lot longer than when supported by the envisaged initiative.

5.2.     Options discarded at an early stage

In a potential non-legislative option, the Commission would have pursued the non-legislative measures of the baseline and supplement them with a Recommendation on a gender-sensitive application of the relevant EU law to this group of crime victims. This would have supported the Member States in implementing the relevant EU obligations in a manner that is aligned with EU and international best practice from this field. This option was discarded for reasons of effectiveness. Whereas non-legislative action continues to be an important element of addressing violence against women and domestic violence, it has limited effectiveness in terms of affecting the high prevalence of this violent crime in the EU (see also Sections 3 and 7).

An alternative policy option could have consisted of legislative measures in one or two of the problem areas. For instance, the initiative could have supplemented the existing legislative framework and national measures with EU-level legislative measures on prevention. Prevention measures are vital in addressing the drivers of this kind of violence, and they are relatively inexpensive in comparison to interventions in other problem areas. Similarly, additional obligations could be envisaged solely in the area of victim support and/or coordination, where the Victims’ Rights Directive already includes broad legislative obligations. Such limited intervention to some problem areas only has equally been discarded for reasons of effectiveness. Since gaps have been identified in all five problem areas and it is internationally recommended to adopt a holistic approach to addressing these problems, action on one or more of the problem areas alone would not be effective in addressing violence against women and domestic violence.

Yet another policy option would be to amend the relevant 14 instruments of EU law. However, this would maintain the existing legal fragmentation at EU level and could not fill the gaps which would not fit under any of those instruments. It would not bring about the recommended holistic approach. In addition, amendments to the 14 instruments would need to be embedded in a more general evaluation of those instruments and would be adopted at different points in time, thus preventing a coordinated and consistent approach. In contrast, a targeted EU-level instrument dedicated to this group of victims would supplement and support the application of the above EU standards and lead to improved efficiency of the current framework. It would create simplification for the benefit of the relevant professionals and victims by focusing the relevant EU rules in a single instrument in a transparent manner. In so doing the initiative would follow the approach of other policy areas, where general EU rules and international obligations have been supplemented by a targeted EU legal instrument such as on child sexual abuse and trafficking in human beings.

A further policy option could have consisted of a proposal to request the Council to include gender-based violence as an area of crime that meets the criteria specified in Article 83(1) TFEU (so-called ‘EU crime’). If adopted with unanimity at the Council, this proposal would establish a new legal base, which the Commission could subsequently use to propose a directive to prevent and combat all forms of gender-based violence. The new legal base would enable the EU to approximate criminal definitions and sanctions related to all forms of violence against women and domestic violence, and more broadly of gender-based violence. The establishment of a new EU crime has been assessed as a possible measure under the access to justice problem area of policy option 2B, because it would differ from the current directive by creating a legal bases for more extensive measures in that problem area. This is where the report discusses whether a new legal base would create added value or amount to unnecessary duplication of Member State efforts in comparison to the existing legal bases, which leave considerable scope for supplementary EU-level criminalisations and allow the current initiative to fill gaps in this problem area without a new EU crime.

5.3.    Description of the policy options

In line with the political mandate to propose legislative measures with the same aims as the Istanbul Convention (within the limits of EU competence), the Convention’s standards have been used as the point of departure for the development of the policy options.

Two policy options are retained for assessment, both of which include a package of minimum standards aimed at addressing the gaps identified in the prevention and combatting of violence against women and domestic violence:

1.Policy option 1 (moderate). This option consists of targeted measures to fill gaps in the prevention and combatting of violence against women and domestic violence based on the level of protection required by the Istanbul Convention (in the areas of EU competence).

2.Policy option 2 (comprehensive): This policy option builds on the measures outlined in the moderate option and introduces more comprehensive and detailed measures to ensure higher minimum standards and facilitate their enforceability and to address additional gaps, including on cyber violence against women and sexual harassment. The distinction between sub-option 2A and sub-option 2B consists of further-reaching obligations, in the latter sub-option, on sexual harassment, access to justice, victim protection and data collection.

The policy options are built around the five problem areas of prevention, protection from violence, access to justice, victim support and coordination. This is in line with the approach followed by the Council of Europe and the United Nations 183 , as well as various Member States 184 , and is based on the expert view that coordinated action in these five areas is necessary to effectively tackle this kind of violence and safeguard the fundamental rights of victims. The specific measures included in the five problem areas have been chosen in response to the gaps identified in the various studies and consultations and narrowed down to those where EU could add value.

Policy option 1 implements the policy measures of the Istanbul Convention at EU level, ensuring application of its standards (insofar as within EU competence) in all Member States and addressing gaps identified in existing Member State measures. In the field of prevention, it requires the Member States to conduct awareness-raising and research towards the general public and provide information on violence against women and domestic violence; it further obliges Member States to set up or maintain perpetrator programmes for participation on a voluntary basis. Member States would be required to provide specialised training and information to professionals likely to come into contact with victims of such violence. In the area of protection, it aims to increase the effectiveness of the cross-border protection instruments by increasing the effectiveness of national protection measures. To this end, it includes minimum standards on the availability of emergency barring orders and protection orders and supplements the Victims’ Rights Directive’s individual needs assessment by requiring the authorities to assess the seriousness of the threat posed by a reported perpetrator on a victim’s health and safety. Concerning children, this option requires the Member States to take into account the best interest of child victims and witnesses in cases of violence against women and domestic violence, in particular by providing psychosocial counselling, thus being more explicit than the Victims’ Rights Directive. With regard to the reporting of violent episodes to the authorities, policy option 1 enhances third party reporting of such violence and reporting by the relevant professionals. In the area of victim support, policy option 1 supplements Articles 8 and 9 of the Victims’ Rights Directive by requiring Member States to provide comprehensive specialised support to this group of victims. It requires them to establish rape crisis centres to victims of sexual violence, provide for shelters and establish and maintain a national helpline for victims of violence against women. As regards coordination, policy option 1 encourages Member States to participate in regular survey data collection at EU-level following up on the FRA 2014 violence against women survey and the ongoing Eurostat survey on gender-based violence. It likewise obliges them to regularly collect relevant administrative data. Finally, policy option 1 encourages cooperation between and multi-agency service provision by the relevant national authorities and non-governmental organisations.

Policy option 2A includes the measures of policy option 1, but goes further in introducing obligations in the area of cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships, which is not explicitly covered by the Convention’s wording. It additionally introduces further rules on sexual harassment, thus aligning EU law also with the standards set by the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention.

Sub-option 2A additionally strengthens some of the obligations and enables political choice exceeding the level of the Istanbul Convention. In particular, policy option 2A makes perpetrator programmes mandatory for reoffenders. It makes the targeted training of relevant categories of professionals mandatory, and requires Member States to ensure that managers undergo training on preventing and combatting sexual harassment at work. They would likewise be obliged to ensure that such harassment is addressed in national policies and risk assessments. Sub-option 2A strengthens the efficiency of the standards by including minimum standards on the issuance, conditions and enforcement of emergency barring orders and protection orders, aimed at enhancing their effectiveness at national level. With regard to ensuring the safety of children in situations of violence, policy option 2A requires Member States to establish specific safe places where meetings can be organised between a child and a family member with regard to whom allegations of this kind of violence have been made. The option strengthens the reporting measures by requiring Member States to establish easy and accessible reporting mechanisms, including in an online format and in a child-friendly manner. In the area of access to justice, the option builds on the procedural rights of the Victims’ Rights Directive and establishes the right of victims to obtain full compensation from the perpetrator in a single procedure.

Concerning support services, policy option 2A requires Member States to facilitate access to specialised support for groups at a higher risk of such violence, such as victims with disabilities and migrant and asylum seeking victims, as well as to organise support in a child-friendly manner. It likewise contains obligations on victim support in cases of sexual harassment at work and cyber violence against women. Policy option 2A deepens the data collection obligations by making participation into regular EU-level survey data collection obligatory, and introducing minimum requirements on harmonised administrative data collection. In the field of coordination, policy option 2A requires coordinated one-stop information provision on the relevant services.

Lastly, policy option 2B further builds on the previous policy options and supplements some of the previous measures with a view to reaching utmost effectiveness. In the area of access to justice, the policy option aims to create a new legal base for minimum rules with regard to the definition of offences and sanctions by proposing to add gender-based violence on the list of the so-called EU crimes in Article 83(1) TFEU. It would moreover strengthen the existing obligations on state compensation to victims, establish a binding threshold for shelter provision and oblige Member States to provide the relevant services through a one-stop mechanism.

The main policy measures contained in each option are set out in more detail below.



Table 5.1.: Summary of options considered in addition to the baseline, with main measures

Problem area

Option 1 – Moderate measures

Option 2 – Comprehensive measures

N.B. All measures come in addition to the baseline and the measures under option 1

Sub-option 2A

Sub-option 2B

Measures

1.Ensuring effective prevention of VaW/DV

Obligation on MS to provide targeted information to and raise awareness of the general public.

Obligation on MS to provide targeted information to and raise the awareness of groups at risk 185 .

Same as 2A

Obligation on MS to have perpetrator programmes in place.

Obligation on MS to make available voluntary perpetrator programmes to all those at risk of offending and mandatory programmes for re-offenders.

Obligation on MS to make available voluntary perpetrator programmes to all those at risk of offending and mandatory programmes for all offenders.

Obligation on MS to provide specialised training and targeted information to professionals likely to come into contact with victims and managers.

Obligation on MS to provide - specialised, regular and mandatory training to professionals likely to come into contact with victims; and - mandatory training to managers on sexual harassment at work and the effects of domestic violence on the workplace.

Same as 2A

Obligation on MS to ensure that sexual harassment at work is addressed in national policies. Obligation on MS to ensure that company risk assessments cover sexual harassment at work.

Same as 2A

2.Protection

Obligation on MS to ensure availability of emergency barring orders and protection orders.

Obligation on MS to ensure efficiency through minimum standards on the issuance, conditions and enforcement

of emergency barring orders and protection orders.

Same as 2A

Obligation on MS to conduct risk assessments on the seriousness of the threat of violence to victims.

Obligation on MS to conduct risk assessments speedily and in cooperation with support services.

Same as 2A

Obligation to provide age-appropriate psychosocial counselling to child victims and witnesses of domestic violence

Obligation on MS to ensure the protection of children by providing for surveyed safe places for visits in case of allegations of domestic violence.

Same as 2A

3. Ensuring effective access to justice in cases of VaW/DV

EU-level criminalisations:

Additional approximation of criminal definitions and sanctions on the basis of the legal bases of computer crime (ICT-facilitated cyber violence), sexual exploitation (certain forms of sexual violence), and serious forms of sexual harassment.

EU level criminalisations:

Introduction of violence against women and domestic violence as a new EU crime.

Obligation on MS to encourage reporting of violence by third parties

Obligation on MS to ensure easy and accessible reporting, including child friendly reporting mechanisms and online reporting.

Same as 2A

Right of victims to obtain full compensation from the perpetrator in one single procedure and within adequate time limits.

Suboption A + Obligation on MS to provide state compensation in cases where victims cannot obtain compensation from the perpetrator or other sources.

4. Ensuring effective victim support in VaW/DV

Beside general support services, obligation on MS to ensure a comprehensive and holistic specialised support to victims (including rape crisis centres, shelters and national helpline).

Obligation on MS to facilitate access to specialised support services to groups at risk, such as children, migrant and asylum seeking women and women with disabilities. Connect national helplines to EU-level helpline

Suboption A + Obligation on MS to provide 1 shelter space for 10,000 inhabitants.

Obligation on MS to provide specific support to victims of sexual harassment at work (including medical care and complaint mechanisms).

Suboption A + obligation on MS special compensated leave for workers victim of violence against women or domestic violence.

Obligation on MS to establish both on- and offline support for victims of cyber violence against women.

Same as 2A

5. Ensuring strengthened coordination in preventing and combatting VaW/DV

Measures strengthening multi-agency cooperation.

Obligation to provide one-stop online access to relevant protection and support services. Encouragement to locate support services in the same premises.

Obligation on MS to locate multi-agency support services for victims in the same premises.

Voluntary participation in surveys coordinated at EU-level.

Obligatory participation in surveys coordinated at EU-level

Same as 2A

Obligation to regularly collect disaggregated relevant administrative data.

Data collection:

Obligation to regularly collect disaggregated relevant administrative data in line with a number of harmonised minimum requirements.

Data collection:

Integrated centralised data collection system at national level.

While option 1 would limit EU action to implementing Istanbul Convention standards through EU law, in matters relating to EU competence, the added value of option 2 (under both sub-options 2A and 2B) is double. First of all, option 2 contains targeted measures on cyber violence against women and sexual harassment at work, which are not specifically addressed in the Istanbul Convention. Secondly, the measures under option 2 have been developed in comparison to the standards of the Istanbul Convention in order to ensure a better implementation in line with good practices and recommendations recognized by international experts in the field and international bodies such as GREVIO and in the UN.

With respect to the first main added value, since the drafting of the Istanbul Convention, cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships has become a common phenomenon which requires targeted action. Such violence is also an area where legal gaps have been identified in the legal network study. Finally, action in this area is needed to ensure effective implementation of the future DSA. While the DSA regulates online platforms’ responsibilities, including with regard to illegal content, it does not define such content. By including a definition of cyber violence against women and between intimate partners at EU level 186 , including of offences concerning non-consensual sharing of intimate or private images, content and cyber stalking, the initiative would ensure that the requirements foreseen by the DSA can be fully applied to this kind of illegal content across the EU.

With respect to sexual harassment at work, a more targeted action than that contained in the Istanbul Convention is triggered by the adoption, in 2019, of the ILO Convention no. 190. The inclusion of specific measures on this matter therefore aim at bringing EU law more in line with recent international standards.

Regarding the second main added value, i.e. a better implementation of the standards of the Istanbul Convention in line with good practices and recommendations identified by experts and expert bodies from the Council of Europe (GREVIO) and the United Nations, the measures have been designed in the five problem areas because of two main reasons. Firstly, gaps have been identified in all five areas, going from a lack of effective prevention measures such as targeted information provision and access to perpetrator programmes, to prosecutorial guidelines on this kind of violence for judges or access to shelters. Secondly, as recognized in the Istanbul Convention and all stakeholders, all five areas must be addressed to ensure a comprehensive approach to tackle gender-based violence against women and domestic violence, as well as to protect and support the victims and survivors.

In light of the above, the presented policy packages present the most relevant, comprehensive and coherent approach to address violence against women and domestic violence in areas of EU competence and with regard to identified gaps. They present the political choice of adopting in EU law the level of the standards of the Istanbul Convention (defined by what has been feasible at the international level in 2010) or deciding to take into account recent developments in the areas of cyber violence against women and in intimate partner relations and sexual harassment as well as good practices and recommendations resulting from a review of the existing implementations. Within this latter option, the two sub-options present the choice between less or more far-reaching measures.

6.6.    What are the impacts of the policy options?

This chapter assesses the impacts of the two policy options (and sub-options) in terms of their fundamental rights impact, social impact and economic impact. Some tangible impacts can be assessed quantitatively, but the central aspect of this initiative is to strengthen the fundamental rights of those affected by violence against women and domestic violence, some elements of which cannot be monetised. The aim of the initiative is not only to reduce prevalence of violence through prevention, but also to ensure fundamental rights of the women victims of violence and victims of domestic violence and to diminish negative societal impacts and improve victims’ quality of life.

6.1.     Fundamental rights

Violence against women and domestic violence have been recognised to impact negatively a number of human rights. 187 Pursuant to Article 6(3) of the TEU, fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the ECHR, constitute part of EU law as general principles; 188 moreover, the European Court of Human Rights’ (‘ECtHR’) jurisprudence is taken into account in interpreting corresponding rights of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (‘CFR’). The ECtHR has established comprehensive obligations on states parties to prevent, investigate and punish this kind of violence and effectively protect victims.

All policy options are expected to strengthen the protection of fundamental rights, but to a different degree. Negative fundamental rights impacts have not been identified for either option or sub-option.

Option 1 builds on the rights provided to crime victims under EU law and specifies their modalities of application to victims of violence against women and domestic violence in line with international obligations. Option 2 sets out more extensive obligations, thus providing more extensive protection to victims. It includes specific measures against cyber-violence and sexual harassment, in particular at work. Sub-option 2B foresees further-reaching obligations as for victims compensation and support that increase the positive impact on fundamental rights. The impact of the two options and the sub-options on individual fundamental rights is summarised in the table below, with ‘(+)’ pointing to a slightly better performance than the baseline, and ‘+++’ pointing to the the best performance among the options.

Fundamental Rights

Policy option 1

Policy option 2

Sub-option A

Sub-option B

Right to life

+

++

++(+)

Right to integrity/prohibition of degrading treatment; right to private and family life

+

++

+++

Rights of the child

+

++

++

Prohibition of discrimination

+

++

++

Rights of older people and people with disabilities

+

++

++

Right to social assistance and healthcare

+

++

++

Right to an effective remedy and a fair trial

+

++

+++

Right to fair and just working conditions

+

++

+++

Right to life (Article 2 CFR), right to integrity (Article 3 CFR) and prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 4 CFR), right to private and family life (Article 7 CFR): These rights are particularly relevant for acts of this kind of violence, in particular in cases of physical VaW/DV which, at most serious, can lead to the death of the victim. Both policy options would have a positive impact on these rights because they foresee measures to strengthen the protection of persons at risk of violence against women and domestic violence. Both options would require Member States to conduct a risk assessment of the seriousness of the threat posed by a prospective perpetrator to the potential victim, taking into account all relevant circumstances, e.g. if the perpetrator owns weapons. Both options also oblige Member States to ensure the availability of protection orders for all forms of this kind of violence. 189  Option 2 would further improve the efficiency of national protection orders by establishing minimum standards for the issuance, conditions and enforcement of emergency barring orders in case of imminent threats to the victim’s life or integrity. Both options would likewise contribute to establishing effective criminal law provisions on violence against women and domestic violence, thereby deterring offences and allowing for effective punishment; the ECtHR considers that this is a key part of Member States’ obligations to ensure protection of the above-mentioned rights. 190  Option 2A would criminalise at EU level certain forms of violence against women and domestic violence on existing legal bases. Option 2B would also introduce violence against women and domestic violence as a new area of EU crime under Article 83 TFEU, which can be expected to have a deterrent effect on potential perpetrators of violence against women and domestic violence. Moreover, both options include training for professionals likely to come into contact with victims of violence against women and domestic violence, thereby increasing their ability to recognise this kind of violence and to respond with diligence. 191  Option 2 would go further by making the training mandatory and regular. Both options would facilitate the reporting of violence against women and domestic violence by encouraging reporting by third parties.

Rights of the child (Article 24 CFR): Article 24 CFR grants children the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being, and provides that the child's best interests have to be a primary consideration in all actions relating to children, as well as the right of the child to be heard and to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both parents, unless that is contrary to the child’s interests. 192  Both options can be expected to have a positive impact on these rights by imposing specific measures to protect and support child victims and witnesses of violence against women and domestic violence. Both options require Member States to handle cases of violence against women and domestic violence in a manner that ensures the best interest of the child, to recognise child witnesses as victims of violence against women and domestic violence and to provide age-appropriate psychosocial counselling, which will positively impact on the right of the child to be heard. Option 2 additionally obliges authorities to ensure that visits of children can take place in surveyed safe spaces outside the home of an alleged perpetrator. Such arrangements would have a strong positive impact on safeguarding the best interests of the child.

Right to an effective remedy and a fair trial (Article 47 CFR): Both options strengthen the right to an effective remedy for victims of violence against women and domestic violence. In addition to introducing EU-level criminalisations as discussed above, both options foresee measures to ensure more effective investigation and prosecution of violence against women and domestic violence. Both options provide, for EU-level criminalisations, that prosecuting authorities should pursue certain offences of violence against women and domestic violence on their own motion and as a matter of public interest, even if the victim does not lodge a complaint or withdraws the initial complaint in the course of the proceedings. 193  Together with the protection measures, these can be expected to further tackle the delays in investigation, prosecution and adjudication of violence against women and domestic violence cases. In addition, option 2 obliges Member States to issue guidelines on violence against women and domestic violence to law enforcement and judicial authorities, which would help them to more effectively address it, apply consistent procedures and strengthen cooperation with other agencies to ensure safety and offender accountability. Together with the training for professionals, these measures can be expected to facilitate victims’ access to justice.

Both options likewise improve the availability of compensation to victims. Option 1 requires Member States to provide information on how compensation may be accessed. Option 2A would strengthen the right by establishing a right to full compensation from the perpetrator and ensure that victims can obtain compensation in one single procedure (avoiding secondary victimisation). Option 2B would ensure access to compensation by the state where no compensation can be obtained from the perpetrator or other sources, beyond what currently exists in EU law. Option 2 also introduces low-threshold online reporting of incidents of violence against women and domestic violence, which would facilitate the reporting by victims.

Non-discrimination and equality between women and men (Articles 21 and 23 CFR): Both options acknowledge violence against women and domestic violence as prohibited discrimination between women and men, thereby aligning EU law with international standards, 194  and expanding victim’s access to anti-discrimination law remedies. Both options would also have a positive impact in mitigating the risk of this kind of violence for persons in vulnerable situations and groups at a heightened risk 195 through the improved protection, support and access to justice. Additionally, option 2 obliges authorities to conduct targeted awareness-raising and information provision activities to reach out to groups at risk and to facilitate their access to support services. It would therefore have a more positive impact on the right to non-discrimination. In the same way, both options would strengthen, for example, the rights of older persons in cases of intergenerational domestic violence (Article 25 CFR), and the integration of persons with disabilities (Article 26 CFR), again with option 2 having a more positive impact for the reason set out just above.

Rights to social assistance and health care (Article 34 and 35 CFR): Option 1 requires Member States to provide specialist services to women victims of violence against women and domestic violence such as immediate medical support, the collection of forensic medical evidence in cases of rape and sexual assault, short and long-term psychological counselling and trauma care. This reinforcement of specialist services would have high positive impacts on the rights to social assistance and health care. Both options require Member States to provide specialist support services to victims of sexual violence, which can be expected to significantly contribute to the effective access to these services by victims of violence against women. The effectiveness of the measures would be further enhanced by the guidelines to health and social service providers foreseen in option 2. In response to the widely noted shortage of shelters, particularly in remote and rural areas, option 1 and option 2A oblige Member States to provide shelters in sufficient numbers and in an accessible manner, without imposing a minimum threshold. Option 2B specifies that Member States shall provide 1 shelter space per 10,000 inhabitants (as recommended by the Council of Europe). Since the provision of shelters plays a vital role to protect victims from (further) acts of violence, option 2B, to the extent that Member States would not have voluntarily reached the threshold, would provide higher protection for victims in this regard. Option 2B would also have a higher impact on access to social assistance and health care by granting special compensated leave from work for victims of violence against women and domestic violence and ensuring that victims can access all relevant services in the same premises.

Right to fair and just working conditions (Article 31 CFR): Both sub-options of option 2 would reinforce the victims’ right to fair and just working conditions by introducing specific provisions on sexual harassment at work. The combination of awareness raising and Member State obligations on reporting would encourage more victims to report harassment and seek redress, thereby discouraging such behaviour in the long-term.

Other rights: The measures on access to justice elements would carefully take into account the presumption of innocence and right of defense (Article 48 FRC), in particular regarding the approximation of definitions and sanctions at EU-level. Both options take into account the perspective of suspected and accused persons and do not affect the application of defense rights by national courts. 196 Both options are likewise in line with the principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties (Article 49 FRC). 

6.2.     Social impacts

All policy options contribute to alleviating the social impacts of violence against women and domestic violence described in Chapter 2 to a different degree. These positive impacts affect various stakeholders, namely victims, witnesses, perpetrators, companies, national authorities and the wider society. Social impacts are assessed in this section only qualitatively by stakeholder. A detailed description by measure is in Annex 5. Estimates of some of these outcomes are included in the next section on the economic impacts, where the benefits of the options are quantified as the induced reduction of the current socio-economic costs of violence against women and domestic violence (see section 6.3.1).

Both options would improve the baseline and improve victims’ health, safety and quality of life (especially through the measures on protection and support), while contributing to changing harmful social norms and behaviors through prevention. This would result for instance in a reduction of psychological trauma for victims and better psychological, behavioural and physical consequences for survivors, since violence against women and domestic violence victimisation is associated with increased smoking, substance use, and risky sexual behaviours. It can also lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. Finally, intimate partner violence in pregnancy also increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight of babies. 197  

All options would increase victims’ and witnesses’ awareness of and access to relevant information on the available protection and support, and facilitate more active participation in society, including in the labour market, including entrepreneurship. This could be particularly beneficial for people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds or victims at risk of intersectional discrimination, e.g. due to migrant background or disability. Targeted protection measures and support services to child victims and witnesses are expected to decrease violence against women and domestic violence against these groups. 198  

All options would ensure that support services provided to victims of violence against women and domestic violence be based on an understanding of the victim’s specific needs and be available and accessible for all victims. Measures, such as specialist support services for survivors of sexual violence and ensuring a sufficient amount of beds in shelters, may be expected to have significant social impact. Option 2B would have the greatest impact in that it would set a mandatory standard on shelter availability.

Measures on intervention programmes for perpetrators are expected to have a positive impact on the latter’s attitudes and behaviour. Also more appropriate sanctions against illegal behaviour would act as a deterrent to those at risk of offending. Option 2 would have a stronger impact on perpetrators, because it would foresee not only voluntary treatment programmes but also mandatory participation for repeated offenders or (option 2B) all offenders. In addition, it would specifically address the growing phenomenon of cyber violence, as well as sexual harassment, thus providing a more targeted approach than option 1.

Measures on sexual harassment, in particular at work (option 2) would increase awareness, better understanding and support for workers who are victims of harassment and abuse. This would allow developing a safe work environment and therefore have positive impact on productivity, also linked to lower sick leaves. These benefits are expected to be higher than the limited costs linked to the implementation of the envisaged measures (see section 6.3.2). Even already functional and respectful workplaces would benefit from recognition of a broader support offered to employees and a better work environment.

Finally, both options are likely to have a positive impact for national authorities. They would bring about clear political messaging concerning the social unacceptability of violence against women and domestic violence and address the problem of legal fragmentation and uncertainties. They would ensure a strong policy framework, based on strengthened coordination and cooperation between the law enforcement, the judiciary and the social and health services. The expected benefits largely offset the costs linked to the implementation of some of these measures (see section 6.3). Option 1 is likely to have stronger political support, even if some reluctance because of the cost implications and political discourse around gender-related matters could be expected, particularly in the countries that have not ratified the Istanbul Convention. This applies even more to option 2, , as it goes, on some points, beyond the standards set out in the Istanbul Convention and may therefore require higher investments in some Member States (see point 6.3 below).

Both options are also expected to have a positive impact on society as a whole, as they would increase the recognition of abusive behaviour and reduce the acceptance of such behaviour among the general public, thus contributing to a safer environment for women and other potential victims, as well as improving public health. Both policy options are also expected to lead to an increase in cases detected, reported, prosecuted and sanctioned, leading to improved justice across society.

6.3.     Economic impact

The current cost to society of violence against women and domestic violence amounts to €290 billion per year. 199  EIGE computed these costs by extrapolating the costs computed by the Home Office for UK. The extrapolation of costs to the EU is impacted by differences in prevalence rates across Member States, both in surveys and in reported cases, and differences in government expenditures and in the cost of services (and so implicitly by their efficiency) compared to the UK system. However, the largest part of these costs (around 56%) are due to psychological, emotional and physical damage that are comparable across Member States. 200 Moreover, a sensitivity check, based on the relative prevalence of violence against women in the EU and where Member States are compared to the UK (on which the calculations are based) allows to verify the overall magnitude of the costs of violence against women. Weighing the costs of violence against women based on FRA (2014) data, we obtain an overall cost of €278 billion. 

Similar studies have been conducted in single countries. For example, a study on the cost of violence against women in Italy 201 placed this cost at €24.5 billion. Direct costs for healthcare are relatively bigger than in the UK study, but overall the loss due to emotional and physical damages represents a bigger share of the total costs (86%). An earlier study on Sweden (2006), focusing on intimate-partner violence (and not considering loss in the quality of life), placed the costs at about €330 million.

Both options are expected to reduce the cost of violence by inducing a reduction in the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence in the EU through prevention, protection, access to justice, support and inter-agency coordination. The related cost reduction is the expected benefit of the intervention and is analysed in the following sections. Further sections analyse the direct cost implications.

6.3.1Estimated benefits: reduction of costs of violence 

The support study estimates the economic benefits of policy options 1 and 2 (and sub-options) by assessing the reduction of the different items which make up the overall cost to society of violence against women and domestic violence: direct cost of services (to victims or to public service providers); lost economic output; and the physical and emotional impacts measured as a reduction in the quality of life under two different scenarios of decrease of violence against women and domestic violence. The expected impact of the two policy options depends mainly on their potential to reduce the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence in the short and the long run.

This approach is aligned with research 202 conducted by the European Parliament Research Service (EPRS). However, other than the EPRS research which focuses on establishing gender-based violence as a new EU crime, the proposed policy options take a holistic approach, as advocated by stakeholders, 203 and foresee a comprehensive set of measures in the areas of prevention, protection, access to justice, support and coordination. They should therefore in principle lead to a higher reduction of prevalence compared to the option examined by the EPRS. Nevertheless, this assessment takes a conservative approach due to the limited research on the impact of legislation on reduction of prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence. In addition, this approach considers that, due to underreporting, there is likely to be an increase in reported prevalence rates in the beginning and therefore lower net benefits. This initial increase in costs is, however, actually a positive effect of the initiative. To sum up, in order to provide a more realistic assessment, this impact assessment assumes that the expected impact of the initiative would not exceed the EP’s estimated overall reduction of violence against women and domestic violence linked to its potential introduction as a new area of crime.

Given the low number of impact assessments of measures against violence against women and domestic violence overall and in particular for the EU context, reference is made mostly to examples from the USA. According to WHO estimates for 2018, the intimate-partner violence prevalence rates for the US are slightly higher than in the EU27: 26% against an average for the EU27 countries of around 18% for intimate-partner violence lifetime prevalence and 6% against 4.4 % for 12 month intimate-partner violence. This suggests that referring to US outcomes does not overestimate the results for the EU.

The (5-year) short-term impact assumption is based on estimated impact 204 of the introduction of the US Violence Against Women Act of 1994 on annual rates of criminal victimisation of women. Moreover, protection measures, such as the availability of protection orders and enhanced reporting opportunities of violence against women and domestic violence, have been shown to be associated with a 34% 205 and 40% 206 reduction in the risk of repeated victimisation through, for example, continuing domestic violence. Similarly, based on an assessment of the US National Crime Victimization Survey, the use of victim services was shown to be associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of repeated victimisation. 207  

The (10 years) long-term assumption is based on an assessment of two main studies:

·Analysis based on Demographic and Health Surveys data for selected countries in the global south finds that each additional year that a country has had domestic violence legislation in place 208 is correlated with a 2% decrease in prevalence.

·Analysis based on FRA data for 2014 finds that women living in EU Member States that undertook legislative action before 2005 had a 40% lower probability of victimisation compared to women living in EU Member States that took legislative action more recently. 209

Due to lack of evidence quantifying the causal link between the full set of measures under both policy options, different long-term and short-term impacts were tested.

a)Benefits of option 1

Based on a reduction rate of 15% (short-term) and 20% (long-term) respectively, the expected total economic benefit of option 1 is estimated to be in the short-term €39.6 billion per year and €53.1 billion in the long-term (see Annex 5 for more information).

b)Benefits of option 2 – Sub-options 2A and 2B

Option 2A envisages more specific measures on prevention, protection, access to justice and support, but also more targeted measures on specific types of violence (including cyber violence and sexual harassment at work) compared to option 1. The expected impact of option 2A (on prevalence) is therefore expected to be higher than the more moderate option 1. Assuming a decrease in prevalence rates of 20% (short-term) and 30% (long-term) respectively, the estimated total economic benefit of option 2A amounts to €53.1 billion in the short term and to €82.7 billion in the long term (see Annex 5 for more information).

Option 2B would include a targeted criminalisations, extended measures for Member States, the provision of a high number of shelters and centralised services for victims, as well as special leave from work compensated at the level of sick leave for all victims of violence against women and domestic violence and centralized administrative data collection. These measures are expected to bring an even higher reduction of prevalence, which is assumed to be 22% (short-term) and 33% (long-term) respectively. The estimated total economic benefit is therefore €57.8 billion in the short term and €87.6 billion in the long term (see Annex 5 for more information).

6.3.2Administrative and compliance costs for Member States and employers

Both options imply costs for national authorities and some costs for employers. The total compliance costs of each of the (sub-)options are summarised in the three tables below. Costs are presented by problem area and distinguished between one-off development costs and annual running costs for Member States and employers. These costs are overall significantly lower than the cost to society currently incurred under the present prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence.

Table 6.1 Total compliance costs of option 1 by problem area

Problem area

One-off development cost (Millions of euros)

Running cost per annum (Millions of euros)

Prevention

0.6

20.1 – 22,4

Protection

negligible

645.5 – 1,684.4

Access to justice

negligible

negligible

Victim support

25.3

127.9-491.4

Coordination

negligible

negligible

TOTAL

25.9

793.5-2,198.1

Table 6.2 Total compliance costs of option 2A by problem area

Problem area

One-off development cost (Millions of euros)

Running cost per annum (Millions of euros)

Prevention

2.4

1923.9-1928.5

Protection

negligible

769.4 – 2,014.0

Access to justice

negligible

328.5

Victim support

13.6

1,925.2 - 2,288.7

Coordination

0.2

21.1

TOTAL

16.1

4,968.3 – 6,581.4

Table 6.3 Total compliance costs of option 2B by problem area

Problem area

One-off development cost (Millions of euros)

Running cost per annum (Millions of euros)

Prevention

2.4

1,924.6–1,929.1

Protection

negligible

769.5 – 2,014.6

Access to justice

negligible

1,897.6

Victim support

136.2

2,438.0 – 8,335.7

Coordination

0.2

24.3

TOTAL

138.7

7,054.1 – 14,201.4

Below is an assessment of the compliance costs caused by the different policy measures by problem area.

Prevention

Under option 1, it is assumed that all Member States would incur additional costs compared to the baseline for information provision, awareness-raising and training measures, as the existing measures in place are not sufficiently targeted to violence against women and domestic violence. The maximum costs of awareness-raising and providing information are estimated to be around €4 million for the EU-27. Training on violence against women and domestic violence to professionals dealing with victims or perpetrators is expected to cause maximum costs of around €19 million. Finally, this option envisages to make available voluntary programmes for convicted perpetrators. Given their low overall number and an expected low take up rate, the additional cost for this measure is estimated in the order of €40 thousand. The supporting study and consultations show that no Member State currently provides sufficient perpetrator intervention and treatment programmes, though almost all countries already have some programs in place.

Under option 2A, the Member States would provide targeted information to groups at heightened risk of violence against women and domestic violence. The total maximum cost is estimated to be €4.4 million. Option 2A also requires mandatory and regular training to professionals on online violence against women, which is estimated to cost €2 million. Under this option, the perpetrator programme is also made mandatory for repeated offenders, with consequently higher costs of around €100 thousand. This compares to the cost of mandatory training for all convicted offenders included under option 2B that has a cost of around €750 thousand.

Finally, the biggest ticket in the prevention area comes from prevention of sexual harassment at work and it is only foreseen for Option 2. It is related to mandatory training of managers and an obligation to set up anti-harassment policies. This would be a two hour online training to be attended once per year.  For a single employer, the cost corresponds to two working time hours for each manager and the total cost per employer will therefore depend on the number of managers attending the training. The overall cost of training for all employers is estimated at around €1.9 billion 210 . Member States would cover the costs for the development of the training itself (a cost of €600 thousand). The possible costs for updating the existing risk assessments has not been included as costs of this initiative since the obligation to have such assessments in place is already provided under existing EU health and safety legislation, which covers sexual harassment at work even though this is not expressly spelled out.  

Protection

In the consultation phase, over half of the Member States (See annex 2) and all international organisations highlighted the need for further protection measures, especially of children and child witnesses of violence against women and domestic violence. The assessment of the gap analysis concerning the current measures relating to protection orders, risk assessments and child-friendly measures showed that all Member States have some measures in place, so there are no expected set-up costs under neither policy option. As the supporting study and consultations show that current protection measures are not sufficient 211 , all Member States would incur additional costs under both policy options.

As for protection orders, they are available in all Member States, however evidence suggests that women victims of violence against women and domestic violence do not have sufficient access to such orders in any Member State. Under option 1, Member States would therefore need to ensure that protection orders are available for all types of violence against women and domestic violence. This implies additional costs between 3.3 and 22.8 million for the EU27 212 (see Annex 5 for details). Under option 2, the increased effectiveness and enhanced access to protection orders may be expected to lead to an increase in the request for such orders. Costs may arise on the side of the judiciary and law enforcement (issuing/enforcement of the order). The total cost for this option would then be between around 4 and 25 million.

Under option 1, countries that have services in place for the protection and support of child victims and witnesses would improve such services, which is expected to lead to an increase of support to 50% more children compared to the baseline. Countries that need to make substantial improvements may be expected to have an even higher number of children seeking support, thus incurring higher costs. Overall costs for this measure is estimated to be a maximum of €1.6 billion. Under option 2, Member States would ensure that visits of children can take place in surveyed safe places in cases involving allegations of violence against women and domestic violence. Such visits could take place in the context of existing protection and support services. The total maximum costs of protection and support of child victims and witnesses under this option is therefore estimated to be €1.9 billion.

As for risk assessment measures under option 1, it may be expected that Member State will provide between 50 and 100% more risk assessments to victims, and that 25% of them will qualify as high risk and therefore receive an in-depth assessment. The total cost for the EU-27 is approximately €43 million. Under option 2 (both sub-options) additional working time is considered to manage cases in a timely manner in cooperation with support services. The total cost is therefore higher at around €47 million.

Access to justice

Costs for access to justice measures fall entirely on public authorities. Based on the supporting study, under option 1 costs would somewhat increase for law enforcement, the justice sector and equality bodies, as they would have to deal with more cases of violence against women and domestic violence, but these costs are expected to be negligible.

Under option 2, compliance costs for access to justice measures would be higher. Concerning compensation, under option 2A, victims of violence against women and domestic violence would have the right to full compensation from the perpetrator. As this concerns compensation for harm resulting from illegal behavior, this should however not be considered a proper cost and it is therefore not included as such in the computation. Under Option 2B however the State would intervene to pay for victims that cannot be compensated by the perpetrators. It is estimated that improved access to compensation could lead to 10% increase of demand and granting of compensation , 50% of which would not be recovered from the perpetrator or other sources. Member states would then need to cover such compensation with an additional overall cost for Member States of €1.6 billion.

Finally, for both options, costs relating to prosecution pro-active information of victims regarding their right to compensation, and ensuring low-threshold reporting are estimated to be negligible.

Victim support

Under both policy options, it is expected that all Member States will require additional expenditure, especially to meet the demand for missing specialist services for survivors of sexual violence and the missing number of beds in shelters. As for services, the Member States that do not currently have (i.e. BE, HR, CZ, FR, HU, LV, LU, MT, NL, PL, PT, SI) a 24/7 free helpline for women victims of violence against women and domestic violence would incur additional costs to set-up and run such helplines. The total expected expenditure of such measures is estimated at between €1.4 and €5.6 million for both options, as the obligation to connect national helplines to the EU-harmonised number is estimated to have a negligible cost. Concerning specialised support services under option 1, the costs are estimated to be around €107 million. Under option 2, it is expected that all Member States will need to step up their specialised services to support groups at a heightened risk of violence. The costs of this measure is estimated at €118 million.

As for shelter provision, option 1 requires the Member States to provide shelters in an accessible manner and in sufficient numbers. Based on information of the average current cost of a shelter bed space for a woman (with or without child) in Member States, the estimated total cost is between €33.1 million and 392.4 million, same as for Option 2A. Option 2B specifies the obligation to provide at least 1 shelter space for 10,000 inhabitants, which is estimated to cause a maximum total costs of around €3.9 billion. This is by far the highest cost per single measure.

In addition, under option 2, the requirement for Member States to provide on- and offline support for victims of cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships (incl. equipping support services with financial and human resources for knowledge-development and the necessary technology) is estimated to cost around €1.2 billion.

Finally, under option 2B, Member States would also provide for 3 days of special leave for employees victims of violence against women and domestic violence, to be compensated at the level of current sick pay compensation under national law. The costs of the measure is estimated to be between €0.3 and 2.6 billion depending on whether only victims of sexual violence are covered or all victims of physical violence against women and domestic violence.

Coordination

This area includes measures regarding data collection and provision of integrated services. Option 1 is not expected to trigger substantial costs: most Member States already collect some disaggregated administrative data on violence against women and domestic violence. Moreover, participation in the survey coordinated at EU level would be voluntary. Finally, most Member States already provide for some minimum coordination at national level.

Option 2 is expected to trigger limited costs for Member States. This option includes the provision of a one-stop online access to relevant protection and support services and of voluntary on-site support services. As for the data collection, it makes the participation in the EU survey mandatory, as well as the regular collection of administrative data through an integrated centralized data collection system. Overall, these measures would trigger costs for €20.9 million. The largest cost is for the regular mandatory survey: each data collection is costed, based on a sample of on average 5,000 interviews per Member State at a cost of €100 per interview, at €16.8 million. Option 2 would also involve locating services for victims in the same premises (with a maximum estimated costs when upon obligation in sub-option 2B, of €3.6 million) and a centralized integrated system of administrative data collection on violence against women and domestic violence, which would have a negligible cost, as several Member States have already introduced integrated systems for data processing in the area. 213  

6.3.3Summary of costs and economic benefits

 Policy options

Assumed reduction in prevalence

Economic benefits

Recurring cost min

Recurring cost max

One-off cost

Option 1 (Moderate)

Short-term

(15%)

€ 39.6 billion

€ 0.8 billion

€ 2.2 billion

€ 0.01 billion 

Long-term

(20%)

€ 53.1 billion

0.8 billion

2.2 billion

0.01billion 

Option 2 (comprehensive)

Sub-option A

Short-term

(20%)

€ 53.1 billion

5.0 billion

6.6 billion

0.02 billion

Long-term

(30%)

€ 82.7 billion

5.0 billion

€ 6.6 billion

0.02 billion

Sub-option B

Short-term

(22%)

€ 57.8 billion

€ 7.2 billion

€ 14.3 billion

€ 0.14 billion

Long-term

(35%)

€ 87.6 billion

€ 7.2 billion

€ 14.3 billion

€ 0.14 billion

The total compliance costs of option 1 range between € 0.8 billion to 2.2 billion, with some additional one-off development costs in the first year of implementation. The estimated total economic benefits of this option range between a cost reduction of € 39.6 billion (short-term) to € 53.1 billion (long-term).

The total compliance costs of option 2A range between € 5.0 billion and 6.6 billion with some additional one-off development costs in the first year of implementation. The estimated total economic benefits of this sub-option range between a cost reduction of € 53.1 billion and € 82.7 billion.

The total compliance costs of option 2B range between € 7.2 billion and € 14.3 billion with some additional one-off development costs in the first year of implementation. The estimated total economic benefits of this sub-option range between a cost reduction of € 57.8 billion and € 87.6 billion.

7.7.    How do the options compare?

Table 7.1 below summarises the comparison of options against the criteria of effectiveness, efficiency and coherence. The comparisons also takes into account the criteria of proportionality and the risk of cost deviation, which is measured by the range of minimum and maximum costs. Scores are assigned on a scale from 1 to 3, as no option is expected to have negative impacts.

Table 7.1.: Summary of comparison of policy options

 

Legislative Options

Poliy Option 1

Poliy Option 2

Policy Option 2

 

Sub-option A

Sub-option B

1 - Effectiveness 

1.75

2.50

1.75

Effectiveness in achieving the objectives

(including impact of fundamental rights)

1

2

2.5

Specific objective 1: Prevention

1

2

2.5

Specific objective 2: Protection 

1

2

2

Specific objective 3: Access to justice

1

2

3

Specific objective 4: Victim support

1

2

2.5

Specific objective 5. Coordination

1

2

2.5

Proportionality

2.5

3

1

2 - Efficiency 

1.75

2.75

2.13

Total average cost (in billion Euros/year)

€1.5

€5.8

€10.8

Minimum costs

€0.8

€5.0

€7.2

Maximum costs

€2.2

€6.6

€14.3

Risk of cost deviation (max-min costs)

€1.4

€1.6

€7.1

Net benefit short term

€38.8

€48.1

€50.6

Net benefit long term

€50.9

€76.1

€73.3

Total net benefits

€89.7

€124.2

€123.9

Figures translated to qualitative scale

2

3

1,75

Risk of cost deviation (difference max-min costs)

3

3

0.5

Total net benefits

1

3

3

Social impacts (not quantifiable benefits)

1,5

2,5

2,5

- victims of VaW/DV and particular groups of victims

2

2.5

2.5

- wider society (including perpetrators and national authorities)

1

2.5

2.5

3 - Coherence 

2

2,5

2,5

Internal coherence

2

2

2

External coherence

2

3

3

TOTAL UNWEIGHTED SCORE

1,8

2,6

2,1

Across the board, all options have a positive impact. Option 2 has the strongest effect in terms of achievement of the policy objectives, impacts on fundamental rights, internal and external coherence, and net economic benefits. Compared to sub-option 2B, sub-option 2A scores better on all three assessment criteria - effectiveness, efficiency and coherence. The comparative analysis below discusses these differences in further detail. A sensitivity analysis confirms this result under different weights assigned to the three criteria (See Annex 3.4).

7.1.     Effectiveness 

All options will contribute to achieving the policy objectives of the initiative. A single legislative instrument based on the most effective practices from different Member States and on the most effective measures already applied at the EU level in the neighboring policies, will contribute to a focused, coordinated approach targeting violence against women and domestic violence in all Member States.. Compared against the current regulatory fragmentation, evaluated as ineffective in the gap analysis, this is in itself an improvement and a positive contributing factor to the effectiveness of both options. Both options will also contribute to the effectiveness of safeguarding fundamental rights. To the extent that similar measures are already applied in the Member States, the effects of the measures will vary across the Union.

a)     Prevention

The prevention measures proposed under option 1 would contribute to challenging negative gender stereotypes and attitudes towards women and men, as well as raising the awareness of the general population and relevant professionals, and contributing to the specific knowledge of the latter. Option 2 is expected to make a greater contribution to ensuring effective prevention of violence against women and domestic violence, as it adds prevention measures targeting groups at risk, and opens up treatment programmes to those at risk of offending.

Moreover, while option 1 does not focus on victims of sexual harassment and cyber violence against women, option 2 goes a step further by introducing specific standards, thus providing more comprehensive and effective measures to address those specific types of violence.

The measures of option 2 are built on good practices in the Member States. In its baseline evaluation report on Austria, GREVIO commended that the two-year basic initial training of law-enforcement officers encompassed the issue of domestic violence, including its gender-based dimension and that the specific nature of this type of violence and the relevant police measures are an important element of this training. 214 Another promising practice identified by GREVIO in its baseline evaluation report on Denmark is the awareness-raising campaigns on stalking and rape, which included components that specifically targeted professionals such as law enforcement agents and social workers. 215 This approach has led to improvements in the professionals’ response to such violence and demonstrates the importance of such measures. Stakeholder views: Expanding prevention measures is supported by various stakeholders, such as NGOs and Member States. 216  Particularly measures on tackling cyber violence and sexual harassment at work are supported by social partners, international organisations and employer associations respectively. NGOs highlighted the need for trainings for professionals across sectors to provide effective support to victims, particularly with police and judicial authorities. 217  

b)    Protection

The measures in option 1 on the availability of protection orders, risk assessments and better protection of child victims and witnesses are expected to address significant shortcomings in the area of protection of victims from violence against women and domestic violence. While these measures are expected to have positive effects, they however remain very close to the baseline and do not effectively address some of the legal and practical barriers for effective protection.

Option 2 adds several valuable elements in the area of protection that address these remaining barriers, thus enhancing its effectiveness compared to option 1. In particular the measure introducing harmonised minimum standards regarding emergency barring orders is expected to improve their timeliness (within 24 hours) and effectiveness in terms of access and enforcement. Minimum harmonized standards may be expected to facilitate their cross-border effect, thus improving the mechanism set out in the existing mutual recognition instruments. 218  Option 2 also foresees measures specifically aimed at child witnesses, including surveyed safe places where children can continue to meet their parents particularly in cases of domestic violence, thereby preventing repeated victimisation.

These measures build on good practices in the area of protection in Member States. For example, in Portugal risk assessment is mandatory in cases of domestic violence, and it is based on standardised forms. After the risk assessment has been completed, a safety plan is developed for the victim, an application for protective measures is made, and the seizure of weapons is also provided. 219  

Stakeholder views: The need for further protection measures was supported by over half of the Member States with the international organisations highlighting the need for further protection measures, especially of children and child witnesses of violence against women and domestic violence. NGOs stressed the need to increase resources for issuing emergency barring orders. 14 Member States have responded that further measures would be useful to make national protection orders more effective in practice.

c)     Access to justice

Measures proposed under option 1 will improve access to justice by introducing approximation of criminal definitions and sanctions at EU-level of certain forms of violence against women and domestic violence, access to compensation and improved reporting by third parties. The positive effects are expected to be the strongest in the six Member States which have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention. Nevertheless, they may not sufficiently address arising problems in all Member States, such as access to justice for victims of cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships.

Sub-option 2A includes additional elements to address the gaps. Concerning compensation, under option 2A the right of victims of violence against women and domestic violence to claim full compensation from the perpetrator does not cause costs to the Member State; it ensures compensation for harm by the perpetrator caused by illegal behaviour. On the contrary, under option 2B the obligation on Member States to provide state compensation in cases where victims cannot obtain compensation from the perpetrator or other sources, would create further costs; in addition, it would require an additional legal basis incompatible with that of this initiative. Policy option 2A further ensures the approximation of criminal definitions and sanctions at EU-level, within the existing legal bases, of conduct relating to serious forms of sexual violence, cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships, and sexual harassment at work. It also lowers the threshold for reporting violence against women and domestic violence, which is expected to increase prosecutions and convictions. Importantly, the expansion of the offences will ensure that a wider group of victims is eligible for protection. Sub-option 2B would go the furthest in terms of approximation of criminal definitions and sanctions, ensuring that in the future all forms of gender-based violence could be approximated by EU legislation by defining gender-based violence as a new area of crime under Article 83(1) TFEU. While this would ensure the most effective combatting of this kind of violence, such approximation would to a large extent overlap with national criminalisations, which already cover the overwhelming majority of forms of violence against women and domestic violence. This sub-option is therefore considered disproportionate at this time. 

The measures build on good practices in the area of access to justice implemented in the Member States. For example in Finland, in 2015, the law was amended to allow professionals, who had previously been bound by confidentiality rules, to notify statutory agencies where they suspect a risk to the life of a woman or child in the context of domestic violence.

Stakeholder views: All measures on access to justice have been supported by stakeholders. NGOs have highlighted the need to improve in particular prosecution and compensation measures. This is supported by research highlighting that training of the police and the judiciary on violence against women and domestic violence is likely to increase the number of prosecutions and convictions. 220  Measures to address sexual harassment are aligned with views of the social partners, which highlighted the need for further action. Employer associations underlined the need to take into the consideration the different capacity of large employers and SMEs, which has been taken into consideration with the proposed measures. They also stated that an understanding of the challenges posed by sex-based harassment and the illegal nature of it is well established and understood, but practical implementation remains a challenge (see Annex 2).

d)    Victim support

Both policy options are expected to increase the availability and access to support for victims of violence against women and domestic violence. The measures proposed under option 1, such as the obligation on Member States to ensure availability and adequate resourcing of general support services and specialised support services with adequate geographical coverage, including shelters in an accessible manner and sufficient numbers, are expected to increase the support for victims at a moderate rate. Specifications of the content of general and specialist support services are expected to enhance the quality and capacity of existing services and further expand them, thus also increasing overall accessibility. The same applies for the helplines, as they will be able to offer assistance to those who want to seek advice on violence against women and domestic violence, including those who may be hesitant to identify themselves as victims. Although the impact of the measures will depend on the current level of services offered in Member States, the study shows that the measures may be expected to have effect in all Member States, also in those that have ratified the Istanbul Convention. Nevertheless, under this option, some categories of victims may not be sufficiently protected, namely groups at a heightened risk of violence and victims of sexual harassment especially at work. Also, much discretion is left to Member States in interpreting the rules, for example, to provide shelters ‘in sufficient numbers’.

Option 2 is expected to ensure more effectively the availability and accessibility of support measures, boost the quality and capacity of existing services, further expand them to cover specific groups of victims with a higher risk of violence. It would ensure the availability of such services also for victims experiencing sexual harassment at work. Sub-option 2B brings added value with a mandatory amount of available shelter space and compensated special leave for workers victim of violence against women and domestic violence. However, both options are very expensive, and thus suggest a disproportionate solution.

The measures build on good practices identified in the area of victim support. For example, in Greece, a special innovative, coordinated, and gender-sensitive network offers services for vulnerable refugee women who are victims of violence against women and domestic violence and their children.. 221   In Denmark, guidelines have been developed for social workers on how to assist victims of domestic violence. For a woman seeking refuge at a shelter, the municipality is obliged to provide initial and coordinated counselling to identify their needs and offer solutions. 222 This shows how improving general and specialist support measures is needed to support victims of violence against women and domestic violence, particularly concerning vulnerable groups.

Stakeholder views: Improving victim support services has been seen as a key area of action by various stakeholders, with especially NGOs highlighting the need to estimate the cost of violence and benefits achieved through support measures. NGOs stressed the importance of Member States providing both general and specialised support services.

e)    Coordination

Both policy options are assessed to be effective in improving coordination structures across the Member States. Option 1 would be moderately effective. Training and information provision to professionals is expected to enhance cooperation between agencies. Data collection would be somewhat improved, but participation in the EU-level survey would not be ensured (currently only 18 Member States participate). Administrative data collection would be ensured, but further convergence towards the production of comparable data across the EU would not happen as no harmonised minimum standards of data disaggregation and collection would be set.

Option 2 is expected to be more effective in ensuring more robust coordination structures in relation to violence against women and domestic violence, including on multi-agency cooperation. Participation in the EU-level survey would be mandatory ensuring comparable EU-level data on the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence. Minimum standards on administrative data collection would ensure progress toward comparability at EU level. Sub-option 2B could be more effective in ensuring the centralization of administrative data of all services at national level (police, judiciary, health, social), but this measure is operationally complex, putting a burden on the public authorities which may be disproportionate particularly at this time.

The measures build on good practices concerning coordination. For example, Spain has created and implemented an Integrated Monitoring System for cases of Gender-based Violence (VioGen). In Portugal, data from law-enforcement bodies and the judiciary must be collated throughout the entire criminal proceedings chain, from the filing of the complaint to the delivery of the judgment. A standard form is used to record domestic violence..

Stakeholder views: The need for comparable and comprehensive disaggregated data collection has been highlighted by all stakeholders as crucial for better policy development. Member States also recognised in the consultations the value of multi-agency cooperation with 14 Member States stating it could be strengthened. Research also shows that effective multi-agency service provision and coordination can help professionals respond to violence against women and domestic violence due to more effective use of resources, increased awareness and understanding of violence against women and domestic violence, and peer support. 223  

7.2.     Efficiency

Both policy options are expected to incur substantial compliance costs, but these costs are always exceeded by the potential economic benefits (measured in terms of reduction in costs of violence against women and domestic violence). The compliance costs for each problem area are higher in option 2A (see Table 6.2) compared to option 1 (Table 6.1). Overall, the total administrative and compliance costs for option 2A are between €4.2 – €4.4 billion higher than for option 1. The total administrative and compliance costs for option 2B (Table 6.3) are between €2.2 and 7.7 billion higher than option 2A.

The difference in costs is largely driven by the running costs per year of the various measures. In particular, the most substantial differences are observed in the running costs for measures related to access to justice and victim support. In addition, the cost of new measures against cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships, effective remedies in case of sexual harassment at work and public prosecution of the new EU-crimes increases the compliance costs of this option. The costs for victim support of option 2A are around up to €4.0 billion higher than in option 1, which is mainly driven by the cost of measures to support victims of cyber violence against women or in intimate partnerships or victims of sexual harassment at work.

In conclusion, Option 1 offers the best cost to benefit ratio, but having also much lower benefits, choosing this option would result in missing out on net benefits compared to both option 2A and 2B (around €9 and over 20 billion respectively in the short and in the long period). Option 2A is preferable to Option 2B as it offers the highest net benefit in the long term and, although it has slightly lower net benefits in the short term, it achieves the benefits at much lower costs.

Efficiency (in billion Euro)

 Option 1

 Option 2A

Option 2B

Total average, and minimum and maximum costs

1.5

(0.8-2.2)

5.8

(5.0-6.6)

10.8

(7.2-14.3)

Of which one off costs

0.014

0.016

0.138

Average running costs per year

1.5

5.8

10.8

Benefits: Reduction in costs of violence

Short term benefits (up to 5y)

39.6

53.1

57.8

Long term benefits (10 y +)

53.1

82.7

87.6

Overall economic impact/Net benefit

Short term net benefit

38.8

48.1

50.6

Long term net benefit

50.9

76.1

73.3

7.3.     Coherence

The coherence of both policy options (and sub-options) is assessed positively, as they are expected to address some of the key problems identified, namely the highly fragmented nature of the current EU legal framework, the lack of systematic, focused measures on violence against women and domestic violence and a number of the gaps in the framework identified in the gap analysis (Annex 8). Option 2 has a more positive impact on coherence as it sets specific standards in areas not specifically addressed by the Istanbul Convention (e.g. measures against cyber violence and sexual harassment).

Both options would be fully internally coherent with other actions at EU level, in particular the Victims’ Rights Strategy and the Rights of the Child Strategy by introducing detailed standards on victims’ rights and the rights of the child. Option 2 would also increase coherence with the DSA proposal because the minimum harmonisation of what constitutes criminal and illegal forms of cyber violence will ensure that the obligations in the DSA will be applicable to these forms of violence (for example orders, notice and action, trusted flaggers, risk assessments etc.). Also, Option 2 will supplement the DSA on prevention, protection, and support for victims of such cyber violence.With regard to the Victims’ Rights Strategy, the initiative will introduce specialised violence against women and domestic violence measures which will supplement the existing general victims’ rights standards at EU level, in the same way as specific measures have been adopted in regard to victims of terrorism and trafficking.

Similarly, both policy options will contribute to enhancing external coherence by aligning EU law to the standards of the Istanbul Convention, but option 2 will in addition align EU law to the standards of the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention no. 190. Both policy options will also enhance coherence with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

7.4.     Preferred option

Following the comparative assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and coherence of the policy options, the preferred option proposed for political endorsement is option 2A. The superiority of this option comes from its better performance in contributing to enforcing fundamental rights and improving social impact compared to option 1 and providing a higher net benefit in the long term compared to sub-option 2B (and to Option 1) while having lower costs.

Most importantly, option 2A is expected to provide extensive protection of fundamental rights and improve the social situation of victims and society at large compared to option 1 due to its comprehensive set of obligations. It follows the principle of proportionality and necessity of an intervention at EU level: it will remove the fragmented approach across Member States, enhance legal certainty and effective enforcement and protection of victims. It establishes, for the first time at EU level, a targeted and coordinated approach to tackle violence against women and domestic violence through a set of harmonised standards. The effectiveness and proportionality of the option in reaching the objectives is superior, not only in light of strengthening the fundamental rights, but also in tackling gaps such as on cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships and sexual harassment.

In economic terms, Option 2A is expected to achieve, through reduced prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence, economic benefits of around €53.1 billion with potential to reach to around €82.7 billion in the longer-term with a net benefit respectively of €48.1 and 76.1 billion.

Option 2A best meets the objectives of the intervention in a proportionate manner and it is therefore likely to receive better political acceptance overall.

8.8.    How will actual impacts be monitored and evaluated?

The main objective of the initiative is the enforcement of fundamental rights. The achievement of this objective would be reflected in a decrease of prevalence rates and a decrease of the needs for protection and support. i.e. in the number of people who do not enjoy their fundamental rights.

The lack of monitoring and insufficient enforceability with regard to victims of violence against women and domestic violence is one of the key weaknesses identified in the application of the EU legal framework. Even though data indicate that this kind of violence is prevalent in all Member States, more comparable data, including on underreporting of these crimes, is needed to assess changes in prevalence rates and the effectiveness of the proposed measures.

Considering that prevalence rates reflect structural data that tend to change very slowly over time, it is likely that in the short term, this first evaluation will show progress mostly as for the implementation and setting up of processes. These could be monitored through the number of requests for victim support measures, number of prevention measures (e.g. awareness campaigns), VAW and DV cases registered by domestic law enforcement and judicial authorities and reported coordination efforts. Most data in this respect will be provided to the European Commission by Member States through the implementation reports which will feed into an evaluation to be carried out in about 5 years’ time.

A visible impact in terms of a reduction in prevalence rates in the previous years can realistically be expected only in the long run. An increased reporting, and therefore apparently higher prevalence rates, could actually be considered an indicator of success in the shorter term.

In this respect the provision regarding data collection will offer regular, comparable and, as for administrative data, also timely data.

The preferred policy option will introduce further harmonisation in the collection of disaggregated administrative data (including from law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, social and health services) at regular intervals based on the ongoing work by EIGE, and the obligatory regular survey coordinated at EU-level (following up on the EU survey on violence against women and domestic violence coordinated by Eurostat). These strengthened data collection requirements form the basis for the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the initiative against its specific objectives.

The monitoring will be based on a series of measurable outcomes (see Annex 7). With a view to avoiding unnecessary duplication of efforts, monitoring will in as much as possible be based on the harmonised indicators already developed. 224  The most important indicator, but not the only, for successful implementation are the prevalence rates of violence against women and domestic violence.

The need for a policy review will be assessed following the first round of Member State reporting on the directive’s implementation, foreseen to take place about five years after the entry into force of the directive. Reporting would be carried out at regular intervals in the form of a questionnaire to the Member States. The details will be described in a monitoring and enforcement plan.

Member States would be able to draw on the information they provide to international human rights bodies under periodic reporting obligations. This would ensure that overlap in reporting and additional administrative burden is avoided. Unnecessary duplication will also be avoided by drawing on data already available under other relevant policy areas, such as on victims’ rights. Future synergies may be identified with the implementation of the EU strategies on the rights of the child, the rights of persons with disabilities and LGBTIQ equality, as well as the hate speech and hate crime initiative. Additional information on the implementation measures and their effectiveness is expected to be received from stakeholders, such as EIGE, FRA and NGOs.



ANNEXES

ANNEX 1: Procedural information

1.1.LEAD DG, DECIDE PLANNING/CWP REFERENCES

This Staff Working Document was prepared by the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST).

The Decide reference of this initiative is PLAN/2020/9290.

This document includes annexes to the Impact Assessment Report.

1.2.ORGANISATION AND TIMING

The Impact Assessment Report was prepared by DG JUST as the lead Directorate-General.

The Inter-Service Steering Group on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence established for the work was associated and consulted in the process, under the coordination of the Secretariat-General, including the following services: DG CONNECT (DG for Communications Networks, Content and Technology), DG EAC (DG for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture), DG EMPL (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), DG ESTAT (Statistical Office of the European Union), DG HOME (DG Migration and Home Affairs), DG SANTE (DG for Health and Food Safety) and SJ (Legal Service). In addition, the equality coordinators from the European Commission’s Equality Task Force from each DG were invited to follow the meetings to facilitate equality mainstreaming work in their policy areas.

The last meeting of the ISSG on the draft Impact Assessment Report, chaired by the Secretariat-General of the European Commission was held on 1 September 2021. Finally, the ISSG was consulted on the revised version of the impact assessment on 26 November 2021.

CONSULTATION OF THE RSB

The Regulatory Scrutiny Board gave a negative opinion on the draft Impact Assessment Report submitted on 15 September 2021 and discussed in the hearing that took place on 13 October 2021. To address the feedback given by the Regulatory Scrutiny Board, the following changes were made in the Impact Assessment Report and its annexes:

Findings of the Board

Main modifications made in the report to address them

1. The report is not sufficiently clear on what categories of victims and types of violence would be covered by the initiative, and what would justify limiting the application of certain measures specifically to women. It does not sufficiently justify and substantiate with evidence the problems related to cyber-based violence and harassment in the workplace.

The problem definition chapter of the impact assessment now clarifies upfront the scope of the initiative, i.e. violence against women and domestic violence against any person. This reflects the intention to pursue the same objective as the Istanbul Convention - to ensure that EU Member States have effective measures in place to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence.

The report better explains the choice of scope: while violence may affect both women and men, violence against women is a specific phenomenon in that its drivers are different as explained in the Explanatory Report to the Istanbul Convention 225 and it has specific consequences. Furthermore, the large majority of acts of gender-based violence are perpetrated against women and girls. Domestic violence additionally covers not only women, but any person living in the household, including men and boys.

The report justifies why specific measures are required for the protection of these particular groups of victims.

The report also explains why violence based on other grounds of discrimination is excluded from the scope, while taking into account the intersection with other grounds of discrimination: special measures are foreseen, within the group of victims of violence against women and domestic violence, for especially vulnerable groups, such as women with racial or ethnic origin, disability or sexual orientation.

The problems related to cyber violence against women and sexual harassment have been better justified and substantiated.

2. The report does not sufficiently reflect the evolving legislative context, in particular the recent Court of Justice Opinion on the legal base and modalities of the Istanbul Convention.

The report now reflects better the evolving legislative context in Sections 3 and 5.1.

In particular, the report was updated and aligned with the CJEU opinion on the modalities of EU accession of 6 October 2021, taking this opinion into account as regards the possible developments in relation to the EU’s accession (see, in particular the dynamic baseline (see point 3) and as regards the competence to act in the areas covered by the initiative.

3. The report does not present a complete baseline. It is not sufficiently clear on the future effects of more recent measures taken by the Member States. It does not assess the impacts that would result from further Member State implementation efforts of the Istanbul Convention obligations in the absence of further EU action. The remaining scale of the problems and the need for further EU action is not sufficiently clear.

The report clarifies that the baseline takes into account the legislative and policy measures taken by Member States, as gathered through the studies conducted to support the initiative – in particular the study from the European Network of Legal Experts and the ICF study - and subsequently in the evaluation of gaps, as well the targeted consultation of stakeholders. A key source of information concerning the measures taken by the 21 Member States in the field of preventing and combatting this kind of violence is the periodic reporting these countries conduct to the Council of Europe’s monitoring body GREVIO, and GREVIO’s ensuing baseline reports.

All this information has been distilled into a new annex 8, which (in its section 2) analyses the remaining gaps in the Member States and highlights good practices in this area.  

Moreover, a dedicated section has been added in chapter 5 setting out a dynamic baseline for the Member States. The report acknowledges that Member States are likely to take some additional measures on violence against women and domestic violence, in particular following recommendations by GREVIO. The section also explains, however, why these measures are likely to be insufficient to meet the objective in the short and medium term for two main reasons. First, GREVIO monitoring is a lengthy and reiterative process, which does not cover all parties at a single point in time; moreover, there is no sanction for non-compliance with recommendations, since international law like the Istanbul convention lacks the effective enforcement mechanisms of European law; second, not all Member States are parties to the Istanbul Convention.

In light of the above, in order to define the scale of the problem, the report more clearly explains the magnitude of the problem. While the report can acknowledge that the Istanbul Convention and the #MeToo movement have raised awareness of the problem and triggered action, there is no evidence that this has translated into a reduction of prevalence. Therefore, without further action, limited progress over time is expected.

4. The report does not bring out clearly enough the available policy choices, the rationale behind options and the content of the measures.

The description of policy options and discarded policy options now better explains the available policy choices. The impact assessment now also clarifies the rationale behind the options and the content of the measures, presented in a more concise way.

While option 1 would limit EU action to implementing Istanbul Convention standards through EU law, in matters relating to EU competence, the added value of option 2 (under both sub-options 2A and 2B) is double. First, option 2 contains targeted measures on cyber violence against women and sexual harassment. Secondly, the measures under option 2 have been developed in comparison to the standards of the Istanbul Convention in order to ensure a better implementation in line with best practices and recommendations recognized by international experts in the field and international bodies such as GREVIO and in the UN.

With respect to the first main added value, since the drafting of the Istanbul Convention, cyber violence against women has become a common and growing phenomenon which requires targeted action. Such violence is also an area where legal gaps have been identified in the legal network study. Finally, action in this area is needed to ensure a more effective implementation of the EU’s future Digital Services Act. While the DSA proposes to regulate responsibilities of all intermediary service providers regarding illegal online content, it does provide definition of such content but relies on definitions in national and EU laws. By including a definition of cyber violence against women and in intimate partner relations at EU level 226 , including offences concerning non-consensual sharing of images and content and cyber stalking of women, the initiative ensures that the requirements foreseen by the DSA can be fully applied to this kind of illegal content across the EU.

With respect to sexual harassment, a more targeted action than that contained in the Istanbul Convention is triggered in particular by the adoption, in 2019, of the ILO Convention no. 190. The report clarifies that the inclusion of specific measures on this matter aim at bringing EU law in line with recent international standards.

Regarding the additional added value, i.e. a better implementation of the standards of the Istanbul Convention in line with best practices and recommendations identified by experts and expert bodies from the Council of Europe (GREVIO) and the United Nations, the report better explains that the measures have been designed in the five problem areas of prevention, protection, access to justice, support and coordination (as in the Istanbul Convention) because gaps have been identified in all five areas and all five areas must be addressed to ensure a comprehensive approach to tackle violence against women and domestic violence, as well as to protect and support the victims and survivors. The report explains that the aim of the initiative is not only to reduce prevalence of violence through prevention, but also to ensure fundamental rights of the women victims of violence against women and victims of domestic violence and to diminish negative societal impacts and improve victims’ quality of life.

5. The report is not sufficiently clear on the costs and benefits of the option packages. The presentation of the limitations and uncertainties in assessing these and the resulting benefit-to-cost ratios is underdeveloped.

The report better explains that the cost and benefits have been estimated on the basis of the real cost for similar measures introduced in other areas (e.g. awareness raising campaigns and training) when available and best estimates for those specific to this initiative. The detailed methodology is presented in annex 4.

The report further clarifies that the estimates of the economic impact have been assessed based on the reduction of the different items which make up the overall cost of violence against women and domestic violence to society. These items have been divided into direct cost of services to victims or to public service providers; lost economic output; and the physical and emotional impacts measured as a reduction in the quality of life. The expected impact of the policy options depends mainly on their potential to reduce the prevalence of VaW/DV in the short and long-term. This approach is aligned with research conducted by the European Parliament Research Service.

The report better highlights the challenges in estimating the economic impact of the proposed measures due to the low number of impact assessments of measures against this kind of violence in the EU context and the need, therefore to refer mostly to examples from the United States. It explains why referring to US outcomes should not cause an overestimation of the results for the EU.

The report better explains the apparent contradiction that measures developed and implemented in the Member States are considered to have been insufficient while at the same time similar measures are proposed at EU level. It clarifies that national measures have lacked the integrated framework and minimum standards that this initiative aims to provide. Minimum standards and guidance set by EU level legislation enables the coverage of remaining gaps and ensures EU level implementation of the measures in line with best practices and recommendations of experts and international expert bodies. In addition, it ensures monitoring and enforcement at a level which is impossible by international bodies.

Concerning the costs for business and national authorities, including substantive compliance costs and administrative costs, the relevant tables in the Impact Assessment itself and the accompanying annexes have been revised to make those clear.

6. The report does not sufficiently assess the effectiveness and proportionality of the preferred option. It is not clear why only a small part of the investments is foreseen for prevention measures and why the option with the best benefit-to-cost ratio is not selected.

The report clarifies that the effectiveness of the initiative is not only measured in terms of reducing the number of victims of violence, but also, and mainly, to protect victims’ fundamental rights.

The report better explains that, while the most costly measures included under the comprehensive options are not in the area of prevention, a number of measures under other areas e.g. guidelines to health and social services providers to be issued in the victims support area, training of relevant professionals and risk assessments, can also have a preventative effect, particularly on secondary victimisation. Moreover, the larger benefits are expected in terms of reduced cost on current victims. While the initiative targets also potential (future) victims of violence, the aim of prevention measures is also to increase awareness on abusive behaviours that might go unreported and to encourage victims to look for support. Finally, effectiveness (in terms of cost reductions) is not necessarily proportional to costs: the most severe cases require higher costs for treatment and might not yield proportional benefits.

For the same reason, prevention measures can still be effective even with only a 5% of total investment costs. Prevention measures like training and awareness-raising activities tend to cost less than, for example, specialised support services for victims of sexual violence or increasing capacity of shelters due to a lighter burden on human resources. In the long-term, the impact of prevention measures can have a significant impact on changing harmful norms, stereotypes and behaviour. Effective prevention measures therefore offer a good cost-benefit ratio to address gender-based violence against women and domestic violence.

Longitudinal studies show that protection measures, such as on protection orders and enhanced reporting opportunities, are associated with a 34% and 40% reduction in the risk of re-victimisation due to, for example, continuing domestic violence. Similarly, based on an assessment of the US National Crime Victimization Survey, the use of victim services has been shown to be associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of re-victimisation.

For a long time, violence against women and domestic violence have been tacitly accepted in the society. Legislation in this area gives a message to the society that gender-based violence against women and domestic violence is a criminal act and will not go unpunished. Evidence (e.g. FRA) supports the estimation that legislation in this area has a long-term impact on reducing this type of violence.

The moderate option has very low costs compared to its benefits (though the expected benefits are largely lower than in the other options). It leaves however out important areas of intervention and offers a more limited strategic framework. For instance, it does not include specific measures on cyber violence against women or sexual harassment, thus failing to take into account the gaps and recent developments in these areas. In addition, the moderate option remains at the level of broad and rather vague obligations which could be agreed on at international level, thus leaving aside the opportunity for a more robust framework based on stronger minimum standards at EU level. This is why option 2, and more specifically option 2A is the preferred option. The contribution of the different criteria to the overall score is now better illustrated in the table comparing the options, including with reference to proportionality.

1.3.EVIDENCE, SOURCES AND QUALITY

1.3.1.Studies commissioned or supported by the European Commission

European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination (2021). Criminalisation of gender-based violence against women in European States, including ICT-facilitated violence. A special report, available at:

https://www.equalitylaw.eu/downloads/5535-criminalisation-of-gender-based-violence-against-women-in-european-states-including-ict-facilitated-violence-1-97-mb .

European Institute for Gender Equality (2021). The costs of gender-based violence in the European Union, available at: https://eige.europa.eu/publications/costs-gender-based-violence-european-union .

ICF (2021). Study conducted in support of the impact assessment report [upcoming, reference to be added].

Eurobarometer - TNS. (2016). Special Eurobarometer 449: Gender-based violence.

1.3.2.Selective list of relevant case law

CJEU, Case C-105/03 – Maria Pupino, ECLI:EU:C:2005:386, 16 June 2005.

CJEU, Case C-467/05 – Dell’Orto, ECLI:EU:C:2007:395, 28 June 2007.

CJEU, Case C-404/07 – Katz, ECLI:EU:C:2008:553, 9 October 2008.

CJEU, Case C-205/09 – Eredics and Sápi, ECLI:EU:C:2010:623, 21 October 2010.

CJEU, Joined Cases C-483/09 and C-1/10 – Magatte Gueye and Valentín Salmerón Sánchez, ECLI:EU:C:2011:583, 15 September 2011.

CJEU, Case C-348/09 – P.I. v. Oberbürgermeisterin, ECLI:EU:C:2012:300, 22 May 2012.

CJEU, Case C-115/15 – Secretary of State for the Home Department v. NA, ECLI:EU:C:2016:487, 30 June 2016.

CJEU, Joined Cases C-511/18, C-512/18 and C-520/18 – La Quadrature du Net and Others v. Premier Ministre and Others, ECLI:EU:C:2020:791, 6 October 2020.

ECtHR, X and Y v. the Netherlands, Application No. 8978/80, Judgment, 26 March 1985.

ECtHR, M.C. v. Bulgaria, Application No. 39272/98, Judgment, 4 December 2003.

ECtHR, Kontrová v. Slovakia, Application No. 7510/04, Judgment, 31 May 2007.

ECtHR, Bevacqua and S. v. Bulgaria, Application No. 71127/01, Judgment, 12 June 2008.

ECtHR, Branko Tomaşić and Others v. Croatia, Application No. 46598/06, Judgment, 15 January 2009.

ECtHR, Opuz v. Turkey, Application No. 33401/02, Judgment, 9 June 2009.

ECtHR, E.S. and Others v. Slovakia, Application No. 8227/04, Judgment, 15 September 2009.

ECtHR, Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia, Application No. 25965/04, Judgment, 7 January 2010.

ECtHR, A. v. Croatia, Application No. 55164/08, Judgment, 14 October 2010.

ECtHR, Hajduová v. Slovakia, Application No. 2660/03, Judgment, 30 November 2010.

ECtHR, V.C. v. Slovakia, Application No. 18968/07, Judgment, 8 November 2011.

ECtHR, P.M. v. Bulgaria, Application No. 49669/07, Judgment, 24 January 2012.

ECtHR, Kalucza v. Hungary, Application No. 57693/10, Judgment, 24 April 2012.

ECtHR, A.A. and Others v. Sweden, Application No. 14499/09, Judgment, 28 June 2012.

ECtHR, D.J. v. Croatia, Application No. 42418/10, Judgment, 24 July 2012.

ECtHR, Valiuliene v. Lithuania, Application No. 33234/07, Judgment, 26 March 2013.

ECtHR, Eremia and Others v. the Republic of Moldova, Application No. 3564/11, Judgment, 28 May 2013.

ECtHR, Mudric v. the Republic of Moldova, Application No. 74839/10, Judgment, 16 July 2013.

ECtHR, B. v. the Republic of Moldova, Application No. 61382/09, Judgment, 16 July 2013.

ECtHR, N.A. v. the Republic of Moldova, Application No. 13424/06, Judgment, 24 September 2013.

ECtHR, W. v. Slovenia, Application No. 24125/06, Judgment, 23 January 2014.

ECtHR, T.M. and C.M. v. the Republic of Moldova, Application No. 26608/11, Judgment, 28 January 2014.

ECtHR, O’Keeffe v. Ireland, Application No. 35810/09, Judgment, 28 January 2014.

ECtHR, Durmaz v. Turkey, Application No. 3621/07, Judgment, 13 November 2014.

ECtHR, W.H. v. Sweden, Application No. 49341/10, Judgment, 8 April 2015.

ECtHR, Y. v. Slovenia, Application No. 41107/10, Judgment, 28 May 2015.

ECtHR, R.H. v. Sweden¸ Application No. 4601/14, Judgment 10 September 2015.

ECtHR, I.C. v. Romania, Application No. 36934/08, Judgment, 24 May 2016.

ECtHR, Halime Kiliç v. Turkey, Application No. 63034/11, Judgment, 28 June 2016.

ECtHR, J. and Others v. Austria, Application No. 58246/12, Judgment, 17 January 2017.

ECtHR, Talpis v. Italy, Application No. 41237/14, Judgment, 2 March 2017.

ECtHR, B.V. v. Belgium, Application No. 61030/08, Judgment, 2 May 2017.

ECtHR, Bălşan v. Romania, Application No. 49645/09, Judgment, 23 May 2017.

ECtHR, E.B. v. Romania, Application No. 49089/10, Judgment, 10 March 2019.

ECtHR, Kurt v. Austria, Application No. 62903/15, Judgment, 4 July 2019.

ECtHR, Volodina v. Russia, Application No. 41261/17, Judgment, 9 July 2019.

ECtHR, Buturugă v. Romania, Application No. 56867/15, Judgment, 11 February 2020.

ECtHR, S.M. v. Croatia, Application No. 60561/14, Judgment, 25 June 2020.

ECtHR, X and others v. Bulgaria, Application No. 22457/16, Judgment, 2 February 2021.

ECtHR, E.G. v. Moldova, Application No. 37882/13, Judgment, 13 April 2021.

ECtHR, J.L. v. Italy, Application No. 5671/16, Judgment, 27 May 2021.

ECtHR, Volodina v. Russia (no. 2), Application No. 40419/19, Judgment, 14 September 2021.

1.3.3.Selective bibliography

EU legal acts

Council Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work;

Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation and the European framework agreement on harassment and violence at work;

Council Directive 2004/80/EC relating to compensation to crime victims;

Council Directive 2004/81/EC on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings;

Council Directive 2004/113/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services;

Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000;

Council Regulation (EU) 2019/1111 on jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, and on international child abduction;

Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification;

Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and of their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States;

Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast);

Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals;

Directive 2009/52/EC providing for minimum standards on sanctions and measures against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals;

Directive 2010/41/EU on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity;

Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims;

Directive 2011/93/EU on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography;

Directive 2011/95/EU on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted;

Directive 2011/99/EU on the European protection order;

Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime;

Directive 2013/32/EU on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (recast) asylum procedures directive;

Directive 2013/33/EU laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast).

Directive (EU) 2016/800 of the European Parliament and of the Council on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings;

Directive (EU) 2018/1808 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 amending Directive 2010/13/EU on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) in view of changing market realities;

European framework agreement on harassment and violence at work (COM(2007) 686 final).

Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters.

Commission documents

European Commission, Guidance Document related to the transposition and implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA, 19 December 2013, available at: (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/13_12_19_3763804_guidance_victims_rights_directive_eu_en.pdf).

European Commission, Proposal for a Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, COM(2016) 111 final, 4 March 2016, available at: ( https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52016PC0111 ).

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council. Reporting on the follow-up to the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of trafficking in human beings and identifying further concrete actions, COM(2017) 728 final, 4 December 2017, available at: ( https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/20171204_communication_reporting_on_follow-up_to_the_eu_strategy_towards_the_eradication_of_trafficking_in_human_beings.pdf ).

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings 2021- 2025, final 14 April 2021, available at: ( https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/default/files/pdf/14042021_eu_strategy_on_combatting_trafficking_in_human_beings_2021-2025_com-2021-171-1_en.pdf )

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, COM(2020) 152 final, 5 March 2020, available at: ( https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2020:152:FIN ).

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. EU Strategy on victims’ rights (2020-2025), COM(2020) 258 final, 24 June 2020, available at: ( https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/law/2_en_act_part1_v10.pdf ).

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. EU strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, COM(2020) 607 final, 24 July 2020, available at: ( https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2020:607:FIN ).

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on achieving the European Education Area by 2025, COM(2020) 625 final, 30 September 2020, available at: ( https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52020DC0625 ).

European Commission, Report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings (2016) as required under Article 20 of Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, COM(2016) 267 final {SWD(2016) 159 final}, 19 May 2016, available at: ( https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/report_on_the_progress_made_in_the_fight_against_trafficking_in_human_beings_2016.pdf ).

European Commission, Second report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings (2018) as required under Article 20 of Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, COM(2018) 777 final {SWD(2018) 473 final}, 3 December 2018, available at: ( https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=COM%3A2018%3A777%3AFIN ).

European Commission, Third report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings (2020) as required under Article 20 of Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, COM(2020) 661 final {SWD(2020) 226 final}, 20 October 2020, available at: ( https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52020DC0661 ).

European Commission, Report on the implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA, COM(2020) 188 final, 11 May 2020, available at: ( https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM%3A2020%3A188%3AFIN ).

European Commission, Report on the implementation of Directive 2011/99/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on the European protection order, COM(2020) 187 final, 11 May 2020, available at: ( https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/770f93b9-9369-11ea-aac4-01aa75ed71a1/language-en ).

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. On the European democracy action plan, COM(2020) 790 final, 3 December 2020, available at: ( https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52020DC0790&from=EN ).

European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, COM/2021/142 final, 24 March 2021, available at: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52021DC0142

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Kothari, C.L., et al., “Protection Orders Protect Against Assault and Injury: A Longitudinal Study of Police-Involved Women Victims of Intimate Partner Violence”, J Interpers Violence, Vol. 27(14), 2012, 2845-2868.

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Studies and reports

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Council of Europe, Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child-friendly justice, 2010, available at: ( https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=09000016804b2cf3 ).

Council of Europe & European Union, Training Manual for judges and prosecutors on ensuring women’s access to justice, 2017, available at: ( https://rm.coe.int/training-manual-women-access-to-justice/16808d78c5 ).

Council of Europe, Gender Matters: Manual on addressing gender-based violence affecting young people, 2019, available at: (https://rm.coe.int/gender-matters-a-manual-on-addressing-gender-based-violence-affecting-/16809e1c34).

Council of Europe, Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF), available at: ( https://www.coe.int/en/web/children/cdenf ).

ECOSOC, Resolution 2004/27 – Guidelines on justice for child victims and witnesses of crime, available at: ( https://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/docs/2004/resolution%202004-27.pdf ).

EIGE, Estimating the costs of gender-based violence in the European Union, 2014, available at: ( https://eige.europa.eu/node/393 ).

EIGE, An analysis of the Victims’ Rights Directive from a gender perspective, 2016, available at: ( https://eige.europa.eu/publications/analysis-victims-rights-directive-gender-perspective ).

EIGE, Gender in transport¸ 2016, available at: ( https://eige.europa.eu/publications/gender-transport ).

EIGE, Cyberviolence against women and girls, 2017, available at: (https://eige. europa.eu/publications/cyber-violence-against-women-and-girls).

EIGE, Report: Gender-specific measures in anti-trafficking actions, 2018, available at: ( https://eige.europa.eu/publications/gender-specific-measures-anti-trafficking-actions-report ).

EIGE, Covid-19 wave of violence against women shows EU countries still lack proper safeguards, 2020, available at: ( https://eige.europa.eu/news/covid-19-wave-violence-against-women-shows-eu-countries-still-lack-proper-safeguards ).

EIGE, The Covid-19 pandemic and intimate partner violence against women in the EU, 2021, available at: (https://eige.europa.eu/publications/covid-19-pandemic-and-intimate-partner-violence-against-women-eu).

EIGE, Estimating the cost of gender-based violence in the European Union, [upcoming in September 2021].

EIGE, Data on Gender-based violence, available at: ( https://eige.europa.eu/gender-based-violence ).

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European Commission, Eurobarometer 449: Gender-based violence, 2016, available at: ( https://europa.eu/eurobarometer/surveys/detail/2115 ).

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European Commission, Strengthening Victims’ Rights: from compensation to reparation. For a new EU Victims’ rights strategy 2020-2025. Report of the Special Adviser, J. Milquet, to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, 2019, available at: ( https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/strengthening_victims_rights_-_from_compensation_to_reparation_rev.pdf ).

European Commission, European equality law review, European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, Vol. 2019/2, 2019, available at: ( https://www.migpolgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/EELR-2019-02_WEB.pdf ).

European Commission, Data collection on trafficking in human beings in the EU, 2020, available at: ( https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/study_on_data_collection_on_trafficking_in_human_beings_in_the_eu.pdf ).

European Commission, Mutual Learning Programme in gender equality, available at: ( https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/gender-equality/who-we-work-gender-equality/mutual-learning-programme-gender-equality_en ). 

European Expert Network on Culture and Audiovisual, Study for the European Commission: Gender gaps in the Cultural and Creative Sectors, 2020, available at: ( https://eenca.com/eenca/assets/File/EENCA%20publications/Final%20Report%20-%20Gender%20in%20CCS%20EAC%20with%20Additional%20sections%20AV%20and%20Radio.pdf ).

European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, Criminalisation of gender-based violence against women in European States, 2021, [unpublished].

European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, Country reports on gender equality – violence against women and domestic violence, available at: ( https://www.equalitylaw.eu/country ).

European Parliament, European Added Value Assessment: Combatting Violence against Women, 2013, available at: (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=IPOL-JOIN_ET(2013)504467).

European Parliament, Gender Equal Access to Goods and Services Directive 2004/113/EC – European Implementation Assessment, 2017, available at: (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/593787/EPRS_STU(2017)593787_EN.pdf).

European Parliament, Study for the FEMM Committee: Violence against women and the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention, 2017, available at: ( https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/596815/IPOL_STU(2017)596815_EN.pdf ).

European Parliament, Study for the FEMM Committee: Cyber violence and hate speech online against women, 2018, available at: ( https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2018/604979/IPOL_STU(2018)604979_EN.pdf ).

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European Parliament, Study for the LIBE Committee: Criminal procedural laws across the European Union – A comparative analysis of selected main differences and the impact they have over the development of EU legislation, 2018, available at: ( https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=IPOL_STU%282018%29604977 ).

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ANNEX 2: Stakeholder consultation

1.1.The stakeholder consultation strategy

To inform the preparations of the legislative initiative, the Commission consulted extensively with stakeholders to gather up-to-date information and expertise and to develop effective measures to counter gender-based violence against women and domestic violence, as indicated in the stakeholder strategy developed in support of the initiative. Relevant results from previous consultations have also been taken into account 227 . In addition, in 2016, the Commission also conducted a specialised Eurobarometer survey on gender-based violence with a sample of over 27,000 respondents form all EU Member States 228 . These activities have contributed to the design and testing of the policy options. Details on the individual consultations are provided in the following.

1.2.Open public consultation on ‘Combating gender-based violence – protecting victims and punishing offenders (8 February 2021 – 10 May 2021)

Objectives of the public consultation

The European Commission conducted an open public consultation to gather the views of the public on measures to address gender-based violence against women and domestic violence. The purpose of the consultation was to assess the existing legal framework at EU level insofar as relevant for matters of gender-based violence and domestic violence as well as to inform the Commission’s work on further measures for improved, coordinated prevention of and protection against this kind of violence. This public consultation forms part of the evidence gathering carried out in support of the impact assessment conducted in preparation for a legislative initiative to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. 

Approach to the public consultation

Open public consultations are not, by nature, statistically representative of the population (unlike, e.g., public opinion polls). Therefore, their purpose is not to find answers that could be generalised, but rather to gain in-depth insights to shed new light on a range of issues.

The public consultation was open from 8 February 2021 to 10 May 2021. It included 66 questions across five sections. Two of the questions were exclusively open-ended and 11 were multiple choice, which permitted the selection of multiple response options. 47 of the closed-ended questions also provided the opportunity to include an open text response. The consultation gathered input from a range of stakeholders, including individual citizens, civil society organisations, social partners, equality bodies, Member States and national authorities. The questionnaire was uploaded on the Have Your Say portal of the European Commission.

Overview of the respondents

There were 767 respondents to the open public consultation from across the Member States, Hungary was the most represented with 371 respondents (48%), followed by Italy with 126 (16%) and Germany with 87 (11%) (see Figure 1). The replies showed no organised campaign or similar attempt to influence outcomes. The high number of responses in Hungary resulted from publicity of the consultation in national media. There were much fewer responses from other EU countries, varying between 37 (Spain, Belgium) and one (Luxembourg); only Latvia had none. There were four responses from non-EU citizens, one from Albania and three from citizens who nevertheless indicated residence in EU Member States.

Overview of responses

The questionnaire allowed respondents to reply to one, several, or all of the sections. Whilst the total number of respondents was 767, this was not the total response rate for each question. As can be seen in Figure 2, which shows the number of responses received for each question, Question 1 received the highest number of responses (758), and Question 19 the fewest (287). Of the five sections, Section I received the highest average number of responses (751), followed by Section III (711). Section IV received the fewest (664) (see Figure 3).

Section I: How to effectively prevent gender-based violence and domestic violence?

In response to the first, and most responded to, question, the overwhelming majority (725 respondents, 96%) believe it is ‘Very important’ that their Member State takes measures to prevent violence against women (VAW/DV) (Figure 4).

The measures considered as the most frequently taken to prevent VAW/DV in Member States are awareness-raising among the general public (435 respondents, 59%) and training of relevant professionals (274 respondents, 37%). No knowledge of measures taken is the third most selected option (233 respondents, 32%) and is chosen almost exclusively by respondents from Hungary. The predominant reasons given for measures being ineffective are that the public is not sufficiently aware of this kind of violence or see it as a private matter (579 respondents, 79%) and that there are not enough services and activities offered to empower survivors and encourage them to break the silence (538 respondents, 73%).

37% (272) of respondents are aware of prevention programmes at national or local levels for perpetrators of VAW/DV. Among respondents from Hungary, however, this is substantially lower (55 respondents, 15%) and among respondents from Italy and Germany it is higher (58% (73) and 73% (55) respectively). Respondents recognize that the media (336 respondents, 46%) and the cultural and creative (270 respondents, 37%) sectors have in particular made efforts to support prevention of VAW/DV in their Member States.

Regarding training, almost half of all respondents (340 respondents, 48%) do not believe that professionals are adequately trained to work with victims of VAW or perpetrators. This is echoed in the responses from Hungary and Italy whereas 43% (33) of respondents from Germany believe they are. As to whether NGOs provide training, almost half of the respondents indicated they do not know (346 respondents, 49%), against 38% (264) who indicated that they do so.

Concerning possible further prevention measures, most respondents (672 respondents, 90%) deem very important that harmful gender stereotypes be challenged to prevent VAW/DV. Measures that teach non-discrimination, gender equality and non-violent communication topics in schools are viewed as most needed to better prevent VAW/DV (687 respondents, 94%), followed by further measures to raise awareness about VAW/DV among the general public (605 respondents, 82%).

Section II: Protection from further violence and access to justice, including compensation

The question in this section with the highest response rate (734) was whether victims of VAW/DV are provided with information on their rights, the services they can turn to and the follow up given to their complaints, to which 60% (439) of respondents selected ‘Partially’ (see Figure 5). Moreover, in terms of the timeliness of this information and its accessibility, respondents predominantly found that information is not provided quickly enough (292 respondents, 43%), is difficult to find (283 respondents, 42%) and is inconsistent and spread over different sources (281 respondents, 42%).

For questions concerning the conduct of authorities, the majority (543 respondents, 75%) of respondents do not consider that relevant authorities or services ensure that risk factors are sufficiently considered at all stages of investigation and court proceedings. Additionally, 56% (404) of respondents do not believe that law enforcement and judicial authorities in their Member State ensure appropriate follow-up of VAW/DV reports. Over half of the respondents (420 respondents, 57%) do not believe that these authorities treat victims, as well as child witnesses, in a gender-sensitive and child friendly manner. Open text commentary detailed that the treatment of victims is at the discretion of the officials involved and shows biases and re-victimization (victims being blamed or not believed). In countries such as Belgium, Germany, and Italy, however, where special processes or staff training have been implemented, some described a positive environment. The prevalent view across all respondents is that sanctions for gender-based and domestic violence offences are not sufficient (548 respondents, 75%). Many respondents raised issues related to sanctions, such as low rates of conviction, light or suspended sentences, and a lack of enforcement.

Regarding compensation for victims, almost half of the respondents (354 respondents, 49%) do not believe that information on how victims can obtain compensation (from the offender and/or the state) is available in their Member State. Whilst this view was echoed by two of the most represented countries (Hungary and Italy), 59% (42) of respondents from Germany (the third most represented country) do deem this information to be available. A minority of respondents (108 respondents, 15%) believe that victims do receive compensation from the offender, although 39% (279) do not know. The final question on compensation (question 19) received the fewest responses across all questions (286). It asked respondents to hypothetically describe the process of pursuing compensation, should they be entitled to it, which the overwhelming majority (241 respondents, 84%) described as difficult and long.

The final question of this section asked whether further measures to improve access to justice in matters of VAW/DV could improve the situation of victims, to which 73% (516) responded they believe that they could at both national and EU level.

Section III: Supporting victims of violence against women and domestic violence

The first question in this section asked whether support services (either general or specialist) are available to victims of gender-based and domestic violence in respondents’ Member States. Across all respondents, 64% (464) do understand these services to be available. However, for two of the most represented countries, Germany and Italy, this proportion is substantially higher, at over 82% (see Figure 6).

Regarding general support services, three quarters of respondents (526, 75%) selected that neither they nor those with whom they have a close relation have used them. Those who replied that they had used these services (11 respondents, 17%), frequently mentioned social services, followed by employment services, health services, psychological or counselling services, and anti-violence centres. In response to whether general support services systemically account for the needs of victims of VAW/DV, most (344 of respondents, 48%) do not believe they do, against 17% (123) who believe they do, while the remainder do not know (251 respondents, 35%). Further open text responses focused on the limited scope of support, with a frequent lack of financial support and provision of counselling to victims. Similarly, 46% (330) of respondents believe general support services do not take systematic account of the special needs of child victims/witnesses of domestic violence, against 19% (139) who believe they do, while others (250 respondents, 35%) do not know.

The following support services questions relate to specialist support services. 39% (283) of respondents believe that general support services refer victims to appropriate specialist services in their Member State. The proportion, however, is higher among respondents from Italy and Germany and accounts for over 60% in both cases. In terms of specialist support services that are accessible only to women victims of gender-based or domestic violence, 54% (385) of respondents believe that these are available. However, knowledge of services that are accessible to male victims is much lower (141 respondents, 20%). For the special needs of child victims and child witnesses of domestic violence, almost 50% (332) of respondents do not know whether these specialist services systematically take children’s needs into account, and supplementary open-text responses suggest this is inadequate.

Three questions in this section address the availability of support services that account for the needs of different groups of victims. Firstly, the accessibility of support services for persons with disabilities is unknown to half of the respondents (356 respondents, 51%). Secondly, the availability of services without discrimination, such as that based on racial or ethnic origin, is split across respondents 32% (225) believe they are, 35% (247) believe they are not and 33% (233) do not know). Thirdly, responses as to whether victims receive information on support services in a timely manner and in a language they understand is also split but with a higher proportion of people not knowing (292 respondents, 41%).

As to whether further measures should be taken to improve the support to victims of VAW/DV, the majority (553 respondents, 77%) believe they should, at national and EU level.

Section IV: Specific forms of violence against women

Concerning specific forms of violence against women, as shown in Figure 7, the majority of respondents understand that the primary gaps in protection against sex-based and sexual harassment result from the perception that it is not considered a real problem by the general public (431 respondents, 66%), that sanctions are insufficient (430 respondents, 66%), and that provisions are ineffectively enforced (406 respondents, 62%).

Over half of respondents (355 respondents, 52%) are not aware of anti-harassment policies or guidelines developed by government or social partners on tackling sex-based harassment at work. 48% (324) are aware of these policies/guidelines either by both government and social partners or by one of them (see Figure 8).

60% (391) of respondents are unaware of a workplace policy on sex-based harassment. Similarly, over three quarters of respondents (515 respondents, 78%) are not aware of training of employer representatives in their Member State. In further open-text responses, among respondents aware of training provided by their Member State, most stated that the training offered is not mandatory, and therefore whether employees have to follow it depends largely on the commitment of employers. Finally, 59% (394) of respondents do not know which national authorities or other bodies they can contact in their Member State in cases of sex-based harassment at work. However, for respondents from Italy and Germany, over half (54% and 62% respectively) do know who to contact.

The second category covered is gender-based cyber violence. 68% (470) of respondents believe that it has become more common in recent years in their Member State; and the most common forms of illegal gendered online content are believed to be gender-based hate speech (566 respondents, 84%), illegal sharing of private photos (492 respondents, 73%), and cyber-stalking (471 respondents, 70%). In further open-text commentary, respondents mentioned that the spread of the internet is one of the main problems, as abusers benefit from its anonymity when engaging in abusive behaviour. In response to whether perpetrators explicitly indicate that their behaviour is based on a victim’s gender, there is no consensus (40% (270) said that they do, 23% (154) that they do not and 37% (255) do not know). The supplementary open-text commentary explains that although gender may not be clearly stated, the vocabulary and content reveal the gendered nature of the abuse.

In terms of measures that respondents believe online platforms should take to combat illegal and harmful gendered online content, the primary option selected is maintaining an effective ‘notice and action’ system for users to report content (545 respondents, 81%), followed by the establishment of policies in this area and informing users of these policies including the effects of breaches (493 respondents, 73%). In the event that online platforms establish specific policies on illegal and harmful gendered content, most respondents believe that they should inform users on how to seek assistance from the platform and explain the available complaint mechanisms (573 respondents, 88%). If equality bodies in the EU Member States had powers to address this kind of content, the main power respondents indicated they should have is the provision of legal advice to victims (543 respondents, 83%).

The third category is harmful practices, and the first question asks whether measures were taken in Member States to prevent harmful practices targeting women. Across respondents, 40% (268) indicated that they were, and further open-text responses predominantly mentioned criminal laws of their Member State. As regards protection or support programmes for victims of these practices, 36% (242) of respondents are not aware of them and 34% (229) do not know, whilst almost half of respondents (327 respondents, 49%) do not believe that existing preventive, intervention or support measures are effective. More than half the respondents (372 respondents, 56%) do not know whether psychological and gynecological care are available in their Member State for victims of female genital mutilation. For respondents from Germany, however, the majority are aware of care available (50 respondents, 74%).

On the issue of trafficking in human beings, the final category, 42% (277) of respondents are aware of prevention measures in their Member State. For respondents from Italy and Germany, this is more pronounced (56% and 68% respectively). 42% (268) of respondents believe that other aspects of sexual exploitation of women and girls than trafficking should be addressed in EU law - with the most occurring theme being prohibition of buying sexual services.

Section V: other aspects related to violence against women and domestic violence

Responses as to whether data on gender-based violence and domestic violence is being regularly collected at national level are split (43% (293) selected that it is, 31% (210) do not know and 26% (176) believe it is not).

As to specific aspects of gender-based or domestic violence, 65% (428) of respondents do not know whether violence targeting women with disabilities are addressed by general measures. In open text responses, respondents remarked on the general lack of attention to women with mental and physical disabilities. Similarly, specific aspects of intergenerational violence, not addressed by general measures, are also unknown (367 respondents, 56%).

On measures to address psychological violence, 55% (371) of respondents are not aware of specific measures. This is similar for measures to address economic violence, where almost half (310 respondents, 46%) are not aware of them. 57% (382) of respondents deemed measures to tackle sexual violence to be ineffective. This is echoed by respondents from Hungary and Italy, while 42% (28) of respondents from Germany believe that measures in their country have been effective. Across all respondents, 57% (385) think that there are specialised support services available for victims of sexual violence.

63% (427) of respondents believe that regional differences in the availability of preventative, protection, and support services regarding gender-based violence and domestic violence do exist. Most respondents indicated strong differences between rural and urban areas in the availability of support services, with rural areas more at risk as most services are city-based.

Almost 70% (453 respondents, 67%) of respondents believe that NGOs encounter issues in their work on gender-based violence and domestic violence. The final question addresses the extent to which COVID-19 had impacts on gender-based and domestic violence. The majority of respondents believe that there has been an impact (567 respondents, 83%), with almost 70% (470 respondents, 69%) believing that this impact is severe (see Figure 9). In open text responses, respondents mostly reported that they perceived a considerable increase in domestic violence in the context of COVID-19. 

Finally, 23 written submissions were made to the European Commission in connection with the open public consultation. These include inputs and recommendations from the United Nations agencies (1), European agencies (1) social partners (2) and NGOs (19).

1.3.Feedback to the Inception Impact Assessment

A total of 63 contributions were submitted. The replies present broadly the whole stakeholder spectrum: NGOs, individual citizens, international organisations, social partners, academics and research institutions, equality bodies, the private sector, foundations, company and business organisations and trade unions. Most stakeholders agreed with the need for a comprehensive, holistic legislative initiative on GBV, NGOs underlining the need for an intersectional approach.

1.4.Targeted consultations and engagement activities

1.4.1.Targeted consultation for the Member States 

The European Commission organised a targeted consultation with Member States. The online survey gathered views and information on the measures taken to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Responses were received from all Member States except for Malta, although response rates varied for each country, with Croatia not responding to most questions.

Section 1: coordination and data collection

For section one, all Member States that answered have reported some form of a policy framework to address violence against women and domestic violence, with the most common challenge being to find consensus among the different actors, and challenges with inter-agency cooperation, budgetary restraints and lack of political will.

Most (24) reported that they have an official mechanism is in place for coordinating measures and sharing good practices on tackling violence against women and domestic violence, and an equal number reported that the coordination of measures and the sharing of good practices on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence is ensured among the regional and/or local authorities in their Member State.

Authorities representing 25 Member States responded that data is regularly collected on violence against women and domestic violence, and although there were significant variations, the most common answer was that data is collected by the police and published annually. Most make the data public. Disaggregation of data varies considerably. All had some level of disaggregation of data, mostly by sex and age. Only some disaggregated by geographical location and very few by disability. For most member States, the level of disaggregation depends on the crime. Other disaggregation were also used, such as relationship to the perpetrator.

Concerning data collection to measure the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on violence against women and domestic violence, 21 Member States responded that data has been collected (PL, RO, IE and BG answered in the negative). The most common challenge for data collection was ensuring harmonised data collection between different institutions along with challenges collecting the data.

Section 2: prevention of violence against women and domestic violence

25 Member States responded that awareness-raising campaigns on violence against women and domestic violence have been organised. 26 Member States responded that training to professionals working with victims of violence against women and domestic violence, or with perpetrators, is available.

24 Member States responded that this training follows a child-sensitive approach. Only DK responded in the negative (no response from MT and DE). 22 MS responded that this training follows a gender-sensitive approach. NL and CZ responded in the negative; no response was received from MT, DE and SE.

Member States listed wide range of challenges in preventing violence against women and domestic violence. These included embedded negative social attitudes and the need for more awareness-raising, particularly with men and perpetrators, to change them. Capacity challenges were also raised around a lack of training, funding and inter-agency cooperation. A lack of reporting and lack of understanding of prevalence was also noted as making it harder to identify and support victims.

Section 3: protection and support

All Member States, excluding LV and MT, responded that national protection orders are used in cases of violence against women and domestic violence. Regarding the consequences of breaching national protection orders, 21 Member States replied there are criminal sanctions, 9 Member States that there are civil sanctions, and in 2 there are other consequences. In only one there are no consequences.

14 Member States have responded that further measures would be useful to make national protection orders more effective in practice. Six Member States (22%) (NL, SI, FR, CZ, LU and AT) responded in the negative and no response was provided by seven Member States. 52% of Member States (14) have responded that foreign protection orders have been recognised and enforced in their Member State. Three authorities responded in the negative (NL, DE and CZ) and ten did not provide a response.

Regarding challenges in the use of the EU rules on mutual recognition of protection orders (in civil or in criminal matters) BE, CZ and FI said the problem is a ‘Lack of awareness about the possibility of mutual recognition of foreign protection orders (by the relevant authorities or the parties involved)’. BG and RO said ‘Divergence of sanctions in different Member States for similar types of protection orders’. DK and EE said ‘other issues’. PL, LV and EE said there are have been very few cases so they could not report on any issues. EE and FR said there are no known problems. Other MS did not respond.

In response to whether law enforcement authorities are empowered or obliged to inform a support service of cases of violence against women and domestic violence, 12 Member States (44%) selected the latter (obliged) and 13 (48%) selected the former (empowered). Only EL responded that they may not do so. 25 Member States responded that support services (general or specialised) are available to victims of violence against women and domestic violence in their Member States. Only BG responded that they are available only in some parts/regions of the country.

In regard to whether general support services systematically take into account the special needs of child victims and witnesses of domestic violence based on a child-sensitive approach, 18 Member States responded that they do. Seven Member States responded that they do, but not systematically, and two Member States (FR and MT) did not provide a response. All 26 Member States responded that general support services refer victims to appropriate specialist services in their Member State.

The below table indicates the available support services referred to. 23 Member States refer to legal counselling services, 21 to psychological support, 21 to health services, 21 to helplines for victims, 18 to housing services and 14 to financial support services.

22 Member States responded that there are specialist support services accessible only to women victims of gender-based and/or domestic violence in their Member State (LV, ES, HU and PL answered in the negative). 16 Member States responded that there are specialist support services accessible to male victims of domestic violence while eight responded that specialist support services are not accessible to male victims in their Member State. IT, PL and MT did not provide a response. 56% (15) Member States responded that specialist support services do systematically take into account the special needs of child victims and child witnesses of domestic violence based on a child-sensitive approach. Eight (30%) responded that they do, but not systematically. 

All 23 Member States that provided a response responded in the affirmative, that victims of VAW/DV are informed of their rights, of the services they can turn to, and the follow-up given to their complaint. CZ, HR and MT did not provide a response.

16 Member States said the above-mentioned information is easily available. One said that the information is inconsistent and spread over different sources (PL). Four said the information is not available in all languages needed. One said the information is difficult to find (LU).

22 Member States responded in the affirmative to the question whether support programmes for perpetrators of violence against women and domestic violence have been set up. Only HU responded that support programmes for perpetrators have not been set up (four did not provide a response). 18 Member States responded in the positive to the question whether there are measures within these perpetrator programmes to ensure the safety of, support for and the respect of human rights of women victims. PT and LV responded in the negative and seven did not provide a response.

Just over half of the Member States (14) responded that there are support services for victims of violence accessible to persons with disabilities. 10 Member States responded that there are partly (in terms of geographical accessibility and/or in terms of services). 25 Member States provided a response to this question, and all state that that support services are available to all women victims of violence without discrimination on grounds such as racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. HR and MT did not provide a response. 52% (14) Member States responded that the availability of support services is not conditional upon the victim’s residence status for migrant women victims of violence. Five did not provide a response and eight responded that it is conditional.

25 Member States responded that measures have been taken to ensure the regional availability of preventive, protection and support services regarding violence against women and domestic violence. BG answered in the negative. 26 Member States responded that NGOs or other non-governmental actors that provide victim support services receive funding and / or other support from the government. 24 Member States responded that the national laws transposing the Victims’ Rights Directive foresee specific measures addressing the needs of victims of violence against women and domestic violence (three did not provide a response).

Member State authorities raised a very wide range of challenges in protecting and supporting victims of violence against women and domestic violence, including challenges with criminalisation, lack of support services, insufficient training and funding, hesitancy of victims to report and engage with authorities, lack of inter-agency cooperation, the need to increase public awareness of the phenomenon,

Section 4: Access to justice, including prosecution

24 Member States have reported that arrangements have been put in place to facilitate women’s and children’s access to justice. BG and RO stated that some of these arrangements have been put in place.

All 26 Member States that provided a response responded that measures have been put in place to protect victims of VAW/DV, and/or their families and witnesses, from intimidation, retaliation and repeat victimisation during investigations and court proceedings. 22 Member States responded that legal aid is available in cases of violence against women and domestic violence in the same way as it is for victims of other violence. BG and EL responded that it is available but is limited. IE responded that it is not available.

25 Member States responded that arrangements have been put in place to ensure the best interests of child victims and witnesses during criminal investigations and court proceedings. RO responded that some of these arrangements have been put in place.

One of the major challenges identified by Member States in the prosecution of cases on violence against women and domestic violence is a lack of evidence, which makes conviction very challenging (AT, CY, DE, DK, FI, RO, SE, SK, SL). The most common challenges which women victims of violence against women and domestic violence face in accessing justice was a lack of reporting which was highlighted by six MS as one of the main challenges in the prosecution of cases of GBV (BE, BG, CY, DE, IE, RO).

Section 5: Harmful practices against women and girls

44% (12) Member State responded that there is no data collection system in place to record asylum requested and/or granted on grounds of harmful practices against women while 33% (9) of MS responded that there is a data collection system in place in their Member State. 

With regard to whether there are measures in place to ensure that custom, religion, tradition or so-called honour cannot be regarded as a justification for harmful practices against women, 13 MS responded that this is specified by law. BE and HU responded that this is specified in government guidelines and seven Member State responded that this is not specified.

In response to whether harmful practices against women and girls perpetrated abroad can be investigated, prosecuted and adjudicated, 19 Member State responded that this is the case. Only CZ responded in the negative.

1.4.2.Targeted consultation workshop with non-governmental organisations, 6 May 2021

The European Commission organized an ad hoc meeting of the Victims’ Rights Platform 229 and NGOs working in the area of violence against women. Eight individual interviews with NGOs were additionally conducted.

NGOs identified a range of protection and support gaps across the EU for victims of violence against women and domestic violence. Victims face significant challenges in accessing justice. NGOs indicated that significantly more action was needed at national and EU levels to effectively tackle such violence. They did not articulate challenges with the current EU legislation, but felt the main challenge is the need for more comprehensive legislation to tackle the issue of VAW/DV specifically, particularly in Member States that have not ratified the Istanbul Convention.

NGOs had largely consistent and complementary views in this area and articulated a range of views, focusing on the challenges to be addressed:

Participants noted that in order to effectively address violence against women and domestic violence, minimum standards on prevention and protection measures are needed at EU level, including on work with perpetrators, more awareness of violence against women and domestic violence and information provision to victims on accessing support and protection. Addressing harmful gender stereotypes as one of the main root causes of gender-based violence and the education sector has a pivotal role in addressing them.

Targeted trainings for professionals across sectors were broadly considered essential to providing effective support to victims, particularly with police and judicial authorities. 

They noted the important of covering a wide range of forms of violence, including cyber violence. Some NGOs stressed that sexual exploitation and trafficking should not be conflated with sex work.

NGOs underlined the importance of inclusive and intersectional approaches to violence against women and domestic violence that include transgender, lesbian, intersex people, migrants (including undocumented migrants) and people with disabilities.

Generally, all participants agreed on the need to increase resources for issuing emergency barring orders in order to ensure more effective police interventions, as well as highlighted the need for comprehensive long-term and multiagency coordination and cooperation for the protection of victims.

The participants noted the need for more action to address barriers to access to justice and the low rate of reporting.

Most participants stressed the lack of general and specialised support services for victims and stressed the importance of Member States providing both general and specialised support services. They identified as a key challenge the lack of funding for victim support services.

Most participants stressed the lack of comparable and comprehensive disaggregated data to understand the scale of the problem and better identify victims. They also noted the need to estimate the cost of violence and the relevant benefits.

Multiagency coordination was considered essential both at the national level and at regional / local levels to ensure geographical availability of services and coordinated, holistic support and protection measures. Participants also highlighted the need for Member States to establish a coordination mechanism, as well as called for an EU level coordination mechanism.

1.4.3.Workshop with social partners, 29 June 2021

The European Commission and ICF co-organised a targeted workshop meeting with social partners on 29 June 2021 230 .  The meeting focused on two aspects: 1) exchange of views on the effectiveness and relevance of the EU framework on preventing and combatting violence against women at work, and 2) and on the possible measures for increased prevention of sex-based work harassment and protection of victims.

Overall, the EU legislative framework was not seen as lacking although there were mentions that it was not sufficiently implemented. EU legislation was seen as only one factor affecting the work of social partners with many participants noting the important role of other factors, including the ILO Convention no.190 and the MeToo movement. One participant said there needs to be a more proactive approach. The current approach is largely reactive and requires litigation to claim those rights.

Collective bargaining was highlighted by some participants as the best root to proactive measures.  Collective bargaining was described as having led to negotiation of collective agreements, policy commitments, workplace support structures and trainings, about zero tolerance to harassment. 

One participant noted that to prevent sexual harassment, a gender equal environment in the workplace is needed, including equal pay, equal access to decision making, and an inclusive and just environment. 

Risk assessments were discussed as having an important in preventing and combatting VAW. However it was raised that risk assessments are not gender responsive. It was also noted that very few risk assessments are carried out and when they are, they do not include psychosocial risks.

Addressing violence against women and domestic violence and its impacts on work environments was discussed. Examples of concrete measures, including 10 days’ leave for victims were mentioned. Some participants stressed that what happens at home has an impact on the work. This is not about encouraging into employees’ private lives but workplaces must be inclusive places so issues can be raised. Victims need insurance that they will not lose their job. It was also noted that violence in the workplace can also lead to domestic violence. 

One participant raised that there is evidence of the costs to companies included around absenteeism and other costs that would make it in companies interest to address it.

One participant raised that home-working and the increase of domestic violence has led to debate among companies about a duty of care to ensure safe and secure working places. 

Concerning access to justice, including collective action, one participant discussed the important of collective interventions by trade unions as it is a safer and cheaper option. Another participant noted that collective action can have a role in protecting victims from exposure, especially in high profile cases. It was noted that in individual cases, access to justice can be difficult, cumbersome, and lengthy. Another participant noted that the shift of the burden of proof onto employers is very important in securing access to justice.  

It was noted that online harassment is increasing, also in work contexts, and taking new forms. Certain professions are more at risk, such as female journalists. It was considered that more action is needed including training and encouragement to report cyber violence, user friendly tools to report and flag online content, a national media regulatory.

1.4.4.Workshop with employer associations, 30 June 2021

The European Commission organised a targeted workshop meeting with four employer associations on 30 June 2021 with the same agenda as for the social partner’s workshop described above.

Regarding current EU legislation and policy, social partners noted that the social partners’ framework agreement was the main source guiding their action in this area at EU level. Although adopted in 2007, it is still producing a range of actions 231 . 

ILO Convention no. 190 has a significant role for the work of employer associations. A focus of the discussion was on domestic violence. Participants felt that it is important that employers are not made responsible or have obligations related to domestic violence as it is beyond their control. There are also issues of privacy that victims may not want discussed at work. One participant drew an analogy with health and safety whereby employers are not responsible for health and safety issues when an employee has left the workplace. Participants felt that there is a clear separation between the public/work sphere and the private sphere. Another employer noted that there are challenges implementing existing legislation and adding domestic violence might make it more complicated and would lead to difficult negotiations.

Participants were largely resistant to more obligations relating to the effects of violence against women and domestic violence at work. One noted that that soft measures, such as EIGE’s Handbook on Sexism, was a better route and more training.

Regarding current activities, one participant said there are projects ongoing on third party violence, which will include gender dimension, including domestic violence and the impacts of COVID-19. They are looking at risk assessments, including psychosocial risk, and developing an agreement on training of HR managers in this regard. Another participant noted there has been challenges implementing risk assessments because they include sensitive issues and employers need support and guidance to do it.  

One participant noted that understanding of the challenge and illegality sexual harassment is very well establish and understood but the challenge is practical implementation.

Two participants noted that the issue of tackling sexual harassment varies considerably on the size of the company. In small companies, it can be hard to maintain confidentiality. Smaller companies may also not have a comprehensive HR structure or trainings in place.

1.4.5.Targeted consultation workshop with the Member States, 1 July 2021

The objective of the workshop was twofold: (1) to provide Member States with the preliminary results from the evaluation and the existing criminal law provisions applied to violence against women and domestic violence, and (2) to gather Member States’ views on the options considered by the Commission for the legislative initiative.

Dr. Lorena Sosa, Assistant Professor at Utrecht University, presented the main findings of the upcoming thematic report on ‘Criminalisation of gender-based violence against women in European States, including ICT-facilitated violence’ of the European network of legal experts in the field of gender equality, and explained how the Member States are addressing violence against women and domestic violence from a comparative legal perspective. She elaborated on the persisting gaps in coverage and protection – especially when assessed against the benchmarks in the Istanbul Convention – and the need for more action.

Member States were invited to engage in discussion on the different policy options to address the identified gaps. Italy welcomed the comprehensive approach of the upcoming legislative proposal and emphasised the importance of taking into account the pending legal opinions on the Istanbul Convention and on the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention no. 190. France recalled its commitment to tackle gender based violence and asked about the legal bases of the directive. Slovakia referred to differing state practices concerning consent in the field of sexual violence. Portugal underlined the relationship between the criminal nature of gender-based violence and discrimination, as well as emphasized that the proposal should take into account the needs of children. Latvia had questions about the relationship between the legislative proposal and the proposal on hate speech and hate crime.

1.4.6.Targeted consultation workshop with international organisations, 8 July 2021

A targeted consultation workshop was organised by the European Commission to gather international organisations’ views on possible minimum standards concerning effective prevention, protection, support and access to justice for victims of all forms of violence against women and domestic violence in the EU, and gather input to ensure the complementarity of the upcoming proposal with the international obligations of the Member States.

Concerning prevention of violence against women and domestic violence, participants highlighted the need for early intervention and prevention programmes. A range of measures were necessary to ensure better prevention measures, including integrated service delivery; psychosocial risk; awareness-raising measures that include harassment, stalking, online violence, FGM, forced marriage, etc. forms of violence against women and domestic violence, which are not currently covered. They emphasized the need for large-scale awareness-raising campaigns that cover these forms of gender-based violence. Similarly, the need to combat societal prejudices, assumptions and gender stereotypes was also noted. Prevention initiatives must be inclusive, integrated and gender-sensitive, meaning that all stakeholders must be directly involved in the drafting, monitoring and evaluation of the prevention programmes. Some participants noted the importance of engaging men and boys in prevention measures. To this regard, the participants discussed the importance of providing teaching material on gender issues – in both formal curricula and informal education – as well as providing appropriate training for relevant professionals (e.g. doctors, nurses, midwives, lawyers, judges, etc.). Training should be continuous and be based on clear guidelines, as well as mandatory. Relevant professionals should be encouraged to follow in-service trainings throughout their career.

As regards protection and support services, participants identified a lack of gendered understanding of violence, which can lead to secondary and repeat victimization, intimidation and retaliation. One-stop-shop approaches to seek assistance were highlighted as best practice. It was also noted there is a need to dissociate access to support services from the willingness to report or pursue the criminal process. There is a need to invest more in services for child witnesses. More generally, protection and support services are negatively affected by inadequate infrastructure, long waiting periods, insufficient funding or geographical coverage, and lack of specialised personnel. Some countries are overcoming access barriers by setting up specialist shelters for women who cannot access regular shelters, like women with substance abuse or mental disabilities. COVID has negatively impacted the services provided and the number of shelters in general is insufficient in the EU.

Participants suggested specific support services to assist victims in (re-)entering the labour market, as economic empowerment is central to realising gender equality. In addition, victims should be ensured paid leave, dismissal protection and flexible working arrangements so as to allow them to make use of the available services.

In work settings, challenges with access to justice were noted. Clear reporting mechanisms and anonymous reporting can help. External complaint mechanisms, such as courts with sufficient knowledge, are necessary. Legal advice should be available for free. Guidance and information on accessible resources, also in languages different from the main one in the country. One participant noted that the shift on the burden of proof as in EU anti-discrimination legislation is beneficial. Concerning access to compensation from the state or the perpetrator, shortcomings have been identified in particular regarding too short timeframes to claim compensation, limitations concerning claims for moral damages (only for certain types of crimes but not all), high court fees or excessively high thresholds for proof.

Gender-based cyber violence was considered a new field that is not explicitly covered in current legislation at EU and international levels. One participant said that more regulation of the media and internet service providers is needed – in balance with the freedom of expression - and more reporting procedures both online and to the police.

Participants discussed the need to require online platforms to offer reporting procedures and ensure effective follow-up. Participants emphasized the need to balance the protection of women and children against cyber violence with the rights to freedom of expression and data protection. Platforms and internet intermediaries should receive more guidance on these aspects.

To improve policy coordination, several participants noted the need for improve data collection, including better disaggregated data and for it to be published. It was noted that there are not enough population surveys to truly understand prevalence. Participants also mentioned the need for a unified (statistical) definition of violence against women and domestic violence to ensure smooth and consistent data collection. This data should be disaggregated, collected on a regular basis, and made available to the public.

Participants highlighted the need for an intersectional approach, meaning that policies on gender-based violence and domestic violence should take account of the particular challenges that certain groups (e.g. minorities, refugees, rural women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc.) face in regard to violence against women and domestic violence.

1.5.Events and expert group meetings

1.5.1.Meetings of the High-Level Group on Gender Equality, 25-26 January 2021 and 8-9 September 2021

During the meetings, the state of play concerning the preparation of the legislative initiative on preventing and combatting gender-based violence against women and domestic violence was presented. In January, the Member States were encouraged to take part in the upcoming targeted consultation. In September 2021, Member States were further informed of the progress and thanked for their extensive contributions to the written consultation, and for participation in the workshop.

1.5.2.Mutual learning seminar on Methodologies and good practices on assessing the costs of violence against women, 7-8 July 2021

The European Commission organised a Mutual Learning Seminar on methodologies and good practices on assessing the costs of violence against women for the EU Member States under its Mutual Learning Programme in Gender Equality. 232 There were 16 participating Member States: Finland (host country), Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

Participants welcomed the opportunity for exchange and dialogue. While noting substantial data gaps and limitations in some country contexts they considered that the Finnish methodology for measuring the costs of such violence, presented by experts from the host country, offered an important model that could either be replicated or else used as a reference.

Most countries indicated that they had conducted some form of cost analysis: they referred to empirical studies or GDP-based cost estimates carried out as part of the 2014 EIGE study, local or regional studies, studies of the costs of a specific service and national studies using administrative data or surveys. However, some studies were conducted a few years ago and need to be updated taking into account new methodologies. Participants also highlighted the fragmented nature of administrative data and the difficulty in linking different registers such as health care and legal services or the lack of compatibility between police and justice sectors. Other obstacles faced included poorly developed national administrative records, or difficulties in accessing information because of devolved government structures, or because external funding received by NGOs for shelters was hard to identify. Many participants noted that the visible costs were just the tip of the iceberg. There are many hidden and indirect costs, and many victims fail to identify as such, and thus, do not seek help. Victims must often pay privately for various health-related services and prescriptions, which are not included in cost calculations. Furthermore, many professionals do not record cases adequately. This demonstrates the difficulty and complexity of estimating the costs of violence, as there is no one gold standard methodology. The Member State representatives highlighted the urgent need for better administrative data on costs and use of services and better survey data on prevalence.

Participants recommended that the EU together with EIGE could play an important role in developing:

·a common legal definition of what constitutes violence against women and domestic violence;

·a common methodology or operational framework for assessing costs;

·cross–country collaborative studies with harmonised procedures;

·guidelines on how to monitor and assess the impact of interventions in order to advocate for greater resource allocation to prevention services;

·further networking opportunities to build upon existing expertise and to facilitate new ideas on research and policy.

1.5.3.Workshop on online violence against women, 8 September 2020

In September 2020, DG JUST in cooperation with DG CNECT organised an online workshop with a panel of six academics as well as representatives from the Commission to discuss the issue of violence against women in the online environment. Academics agreed that Digital Services Act could be an opportunity to overcome the existing fragmentation, and agree on common definition/standards. An opinion resonated among the academics that parts of the Digital Services Act package should be perceived as complementary to tackling the issue together with supplementing sectoral initiatives. As the problem is structural, the solution should be based on complex market approach, so the users can switch to other platform that provides for different moderation may it be their wish. Some academics further concluded that an amplification element is important to distinguish harmful content and illegality, and that the horizontal solutions included in the Digital Services Act should cover all users in vulnerable situations, including women users, users with minority backgrounds and children. They also reported that the decision between the self- and co-regulatory approach on one side and “hard” regulation on the other should not be taken. At the same time, they acknowledged that here are clear positives and negatives of self- and co-regulatory approach, and its success depends a lot on the Member States’ as well on platforms’ approach. In this regard, an agreement was reached that scope for existing authorities to develop their role concerning privacy and different forms of cyber violence might be created by the new regulation. The academics also summarised that there is a need to adapt obligations according to the layers of the internet, as well as to ensure redress and support to individuals when considering illegal acts according to the existing rules.

ANNEX 3: Who is affected and how?

1.1.Who is affected?

The main target and beneficiaries of this initiative are victims of violence against women and domestic violence, i.e. one woman out of 3 according to the FRA 2014 survey, i.e. overall around 75 millions of women. These acts of violence also affects witnesses, family members and other close relations, as well as bystanders and perpetrators. The initiative also has implications for national administrations, including those in charge for the organisation and effectiveness of the law enforcement, judicial, health and social services involved; employers and social partners as for the consequences for labour market participation and implementing and managing anti-harassment procedures; as well as NGOs and practitioners working with victims, witnesses and perpetrators.

1.2.Summary of affected stakeholders

Main problems

For whom is this a problem?

Affected stakeholders

Forms of violence concerned

High prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence across the EU

Individual stakeholders:

·Victims of violence against women and domestic violence(women, children, men; the elderly, LGBTIQ)

·Perpetrators of violence

·Witnesses

·Family members and other close relations of victims

Other stakeholders:

·Governments, regional and local authorities

·National authorities, private support service providers and NGOs

·IT platforms

·Social partners and employers, including companies of all sizes

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

Cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships

Sex-based work harassment;

indirect effects from violence against women and domestic violence experienced outside of work

Ineffective prevention measures

Individuals at risk of / victims of violence against women and domestic violence

General public

Perpetrators and potential perpetrators

IT platforms

Media

Governments, national, regional and local authorities (esp. education providers, social and health services)

Equality bodies

Social partners and employers, including companies

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

Cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships, (platforms can be used to advocate for/incite to all forms of violence against women and domestic violence, but can also promote mutual respect, equality and non-discrimination)

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

Sex-based work harassment

Ineffective protection measures

Law enforcement

Support service providers (social and health service providers, NGOs)

Judicial authorities

IT platforms

Social partners and employers, including companies

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

Cyber violence against women and in intimate partnerships, (provision of on-platform protection measures)

Sex-based work harassment (provision of company-internal protection)

Ineffective access to justice

Victims

Witnesses

Law enforcement

Judicial authorities

Equality bodies

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

Ineffective support measures

Victims

Witnesses, incl. children

Support service providers (social and health service providers, NGOs)

Law enforcement

Judicial authorities

Family members and other close relations of victims

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence

Ineffective coordination

International actors (UN, CoE)

EU-level coordination

National authorities

Local and regional authorities

Equality bodies

All forms of violence against women and domestic violence



1.3.Summary of costs and benefits

The tables below present the costs and benefits associated with the preferred Policy Option, Policy Option 2A ("comprehensive policy option"). Benefits are mainly in the form of direct costs savings across MS national authorities and individual victims. On the other hand, costs were mainly identified for national authorities and include one-off and recurring costs.

I. Overview of benefits (total for all provisions) of the preferred option

Description

Amount

Comments

Direct benefits

Reduction in costs of violence against women and domestic violence

(Lost economic output)

Cost reductions are estimated to be EUR 8.1 billion in the shorter-term i.e. 5 years after implementation and EUR 12.2 billion in the longer-term i.e. 10 years after implementation.

These reductions in costs would accrue to individual victims of violence against women and domestic violence as a result of a reduction in lost earnings and productivity due to lower prevalence of GBV.

Reduction in costs of violence against women and domestic violence

(Health services)

Cost reductions are estimated to be EUR 2.5 billion in the shorter-term i.e. 5 years after implementation and EUR 3.8 billion in the longer-term i.e. 10 years after implementation.

These reduction in costs would accrue to national authorities as a result of a reduction in healthcare costs due to lower prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence and hence, cases that require services/treatment.

Reduction in costs of violence against women and domestic violence

(Criminal justice system)

Cost reductions are estimated to be EUR 7.2 billion  in the shorter-term i.e. 5 years after implementation and EUR 13.7 billion in the longer-term i.e. 10 years after implementation.

These reductions in costs would accrue to national authorities as a result of a reduction in criminal justice system costs due to lower prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence.

Reduction in costs of violence against women and domestic violence

(Civil justice system)

Cost reductions are estimated to be EUR 0.2 billion in the shorter-term i.e. 5 years after implementation and EUR 0.4 billion in the longer-term i.e. 10 years after implementation.

These reductions in costs would accrue to national authorities as a result of a reduction in civil justice system costs due to lower prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence.

Reduction in costs of violence against women and domestic violence

(Social welfare)

Cost reductions are estimated to be EUR 2.1 billion in the shorter-term i.e. 5 years after implementation and EUR 3.1 billion in the longer-term i.e. 10 years after implementation.

These reductions in costs would accrue to national authorities as a result of a reduction in social welfare costs due to lower prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence

Reduction in costs of Gender-based violence

(Personal costs)

Cost reductions are estimated to be EUR 0.6 billion in the shorter-term i.e. 5 years after implementation and EUR 1.0 billion in the longer-term i.e. 10 years after implementation.

These reductions in costs would accrue to individual victims of violence against women and domestic violence as a result of a reduction in personal costs due to lower prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence.

Reduction in costs of Gender-based violence

(Physical/emotional impacts)

Cost reductions are estimated to be EUR 32.2 billion in the shorter-term i.e. 5 years after implementation and EUR 48.4 billion in the longer-term i.e. 10 years after implementation.

These reductions in costs would accrue to individual victims of violence against women and domestic violence as a result of a reduction in physical and emotional harms of crime due to lower prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence.

Indirect benefits

None quantified



II. Overview of direct costs of the preferred option

Measure

Recurring

One-off

 

Minimum

Maximum

1.1 Awareness-raising, provision of information and training of professionals

€29,862,000

€34,403,000

€1,816,000

1.2 OVAW - Self-regulatory standards

negligible

negligible

negligible

1.4 Work with perpetrators

€134,000

€134,000

0

2.1 Protection orders, emergency barring orders

€3,696,000

€25,175,000

0

2.2 Violence reporting and transmission of personal data between services

negligible

negligible

negligible

2.3 Special measures for the protection of children in the context of domestic violence

€718,971,000

€1,942,604,000

0

2.4 Risk assessment and management

€46,855,000

€46,855,000

0

3.1 Criminalisation

n/a

n/a

n/a

3.2 Measures against illegal gender-based content online

€326,459,000

€326,459,000

0

3.3 National coordination

€2,027,000

€2,027,000

0

4.1 Specialised support

€117,643,000

€117,643,000

0

4.2 Support to victims of OVAW

€1,159,566,000

€1,159,566,000

0

4.3 Support to victims of gender-based work harassment

€627,091,000

€ 627,091,000

0

4.4 Shelters

€20,486,000

€379,746,000

€12,630,000

4.5 Helplines

€461,000

€4,656,000

€ 946,000

4.7 Coordination of measures against gender-based work harassment

n/a

n/a

n/a

5.1 Monitoring, incl. data collection

€20,769,000

€20,769,000

€152,000

5.2 One-stop-shop information access

€357,000

€357,000

n/a

(Cost for employers)

1.3 Specific prevention measures against gender-based work harassment

€1,893,919,000

€1,893,919,000

€605,000

Total costs for preferred policy option

€4,968,296,000

€6,581,404,000

€16,149,000



1.4.Sensitivity Analysis

The table below summaries the variation in the comparison of the scores of the different policy options when assigning different weights to the three criteria of effectiveness (which includes proportionality), efficiency and coherence.

Option 1 is always dominated by each suboptions of Option 2. Suboption 2A maintains its advantage in all the different weighting scenarios.

Sensitivity analysis

Effectiveness: 40%; Efficiency: 40%; Coherence: 20%

1.80

2.60

2.05

Effectiveness: 50%; Efficiency: 30%; Coherence: 20%

1.80

2.58

2.01

Effectiveness: 50%; Efficiency: 40%; Coherence: 10%

1.78

2.60

1.98

Effectiveness: 40%; Efficiency: 50%; Coherence: 10%

1.78

2.63

2.01

Unweighted score

1.83

2.58

2.13

ANNEX 4: Analytical methods

For the assessment of the policy options and policy measures, the following main baseline assumption has been made:

1)No actions are taking place at the moment, where there is no robust evidence of them 233 ;

2)For the purposes of administrative costing, it is assumed that the costs incurred due to the policy option are additional to the baseline.

1.1.Analytical methods applied to estimate costs and cost reductions (economic benefits)

The overall approach to the estimation of costs and cost reductions (economic benefits) consisted of the following key steps:

1.Firstly, the cost items associated with each policy measure were assessed, considering the type of cost (i.e. one-off or recurring), and the already existing measures in the Member States.

2.For each cost item, estimates for the value of the cost were developed. Further details on how each type of cost item was estimated are set out below. Overall, estimates and assumptions were based on a combination of factors, including publicly available data (see each measure for details on sources) and the study team members’ experience of conducting similar quantification exercises.

3.The administrative and compliance costs for each cost item and policy measure were then aggregated across Member States. This enabled aggregate costs across all relevant Member States to account for differences in costs across Member States (e.g. salaries of relevant professionals, prevalence rates, reporting rates etc.). In addition, to estimate aggregate costs for the implementation of each policy measure across Member States, where relevant and possible, the specific costs per Member State were estimated, considering evidence on whether policy measures were currently being implemented or partially implemented.

4.For cost reductions (economic benefits), estimations were based on figures on the overall cost of violence against women and domestic violence 234 (i.e. the overall potential for cost reduction of violence against women and domestic violence associated with all policy measures under each policy option). This is because there is a lack of evidence and available data on the potential for cost reduction thought to be associated with each policy measure. On the basis of a review of studies on the economic impact of policy measures on combatting and preventing violence against women and domestic violence, economic benefits of the policy options were considered to be generated due to a decrease in the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence. Moreover, due to lack of evidence quantifying the causal link between prevalence and the full set of measures under each policy option, two hypothetical scenarios were assumed.

1.2. Estimation of compliance costs

1.2.1.Estimation of costs of prevention

a.Awareness-raising, provision of information and training of professionals

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of:

1)general and targeted awareness raising campaign

2)online training on violence against women and domestic violence violence against women and domestic violence to professionals dealing with victims or perpetrators & professionals working with victims of violence against women and domestic violence

3)equipment of law enforcement and judicial authorities with specialized resources/training to prosecute OVAW

For awareness raising, the following calculations are used, for each Member State:

For training on violence against women and domestic violence, the following approach is used, for each Member State:

For training on OVAW, the following approach is used, for each Member State:

 

   Assumptions used:

-the assessment of the baseline finds that all Member States have some form of awareness-raising in place. Therefore, we assume an additional 2 general campaigns and 2 additional targeted campaigns are needed per year needed to ensure regular campaigns

-selected officials attend a 2-hour training sessions    

-the assessment of the baseline did not find information hours of trainings provided or the presence of tailored training on violence against women and domestic violenceor OVAW, therefore assume all Member States incur additional costs

-the cost for the provision of information to victims of violence against women and domestic violencewill be fulfilled through awareness-raising campaigns and training of professionals

b.Gender-based cyber violence - self-regulatory standards

The total investment required is assumed to be negligible as large online platforms provide codes of conduct that are stricter in nature in identifying illegal content online to be removed than national law 263 .

c.Specific prevention measures against gender-based work harassment

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost to train managers on sexual harassment in the workplace. This cost falls mostly on employers.

The following calculation is used, for each Member State:

   Assumptions used:

-all managers attend a 2-hour training session    

-one manager per 10 employees

-costs of awareness-raising and information provision on sexual harassment in the workplace at governmental, social partners’ and company levels would already be covered by 1.1b and 1.1c

-the cost of development of policies on anti-harassment and risk assessments at governmental, social partners’ and/or employer level is already included under existing EU health and safety legislation

-there is no comparable training for managers in the baseline and therefore all Member States incur full costs

d.Work with perpetrators

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost providing a series of sessions (online or face-to-face) to all perpetrators (2B), only to repeated offenders (2A) or voluntary (assumed 5% of perpetrators).

The following approach is used, for each Member State:

It is important to note that costs were not calculated for five Member States (BE, CY, EL, IE, IT) with missing data on total number of convicted persons and therefore, costs might be higher than estimated.

   Assumptions used:

-6 one-on-one sessions of 1 hour of health and social worker support provided per perpetrator with no set-up costs

-the compensation of social and health workers equals the European average for Member States with missing data

-no Member State currently provides sufficient perpetrator intervention and treatment programme, but the costs would be lower for countries that have a programme in place. The total cost is discounted by 50% for Member States that have a perpetrator programme in place in the baseline 269

-for Member States (LT, MT) with no information on baseline, it is assumed that no programmes are in place and therefore full costs would be incurred.

1.2.2.Estimation of costs of protection

a.Protection orders, emergency barring orders

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of adopting minimum standards in relation to the issuance and conditions of national emergency barring orders and ensuring effective enforcement of the order.

The following approach is used, for each Member State:

Note that costs were not estimated for two Member States (IT, MT) with missing data on prevalence and therefore the total costs might be higher than estimated.

   Assumptions used:

-due to lack of comparable data on the number of women victims of violence against women and domestic violence by Member State, a minimum and maximum estimate of women victims of violence against women and domestic violence is used based on FRA 2014 survey results

-for the minimum cost estimate, only physical violence of a sexual nature against women is considered and for the maximum cost estimate, all types of physical violence against women are considered

-application rate is constant across Member States

-relative unit costs of a protection order is constant across Member States and there are no set-up costs

-no Member State issues a sufficient number of protection orders on violence against women and domestic violence but costs would be lower for Member States that already have the possibility to apply for protection orders. Therefore, the total cost is discounted by 50% for Member States where emergency protection orders are available in the baseline, and by 25% for Member States where they are partially available in the baseline 277  

-each Member State incurs an additional 10% of total costs to increase efficiency and ensure timely issuance and more effective enforcement.

b.Violence reporting and transmission of personal data between services

The total investment required is assumed to be negligible as costs to encourage reporting of violence against women and domestic violence would be covered in training of relevant professionals and awareness-raising campaigns.

c.Special measures for the protection of children in the context of domestic violence

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of providing support services to child witnesses of domestic violence and maintaining contact with the child in a surveyed safe place outside the alleged perpetrator’s home.

The following approach is used, for each Member State:

   

   Assumptions used:

-based on 2-hours of health and social worker support per child/ week for 3 months, and an additional hour per month for three months to maintain contact. The total is 29 hours per case 282

-rate of co-occurrence of child abuse and domestic violence is constant across Member States

-no set-up costs

-no Member State provides sufficient levels of support to child witnesses, but costs would be lower for Member States that have support services in place to account for the special needs of child witnesses of domestic violence. Therefore, the cost of support for Member States is discounted by 50% for Member States where such services are available in the baseline, and by 25% for Member States where such services are partially available 283 . For Member States (FR, HU, LI, MT) with no information available on the baseline, partially availability is assumed.

-no Member State provides services for maintaining contact with child witnesses and therefore all Member States incur full costs to provide this service.

d.Risk assessment and management

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost for law enforcement authorities to conduct individual risk assessments and risk management in a timely manner in cooperation with support services.

The following approach is used, for each Member State:

   

Note that costs where not estimated for two Member States (IT, MT) with missing data on prevalence and therefore the total costs might be higher than estimated.

   Assumptions used:

-due to lack of comparable data on the number of women victims of violence against women and domestic violence by Member State, the estimate of victims eligible for risk assessment is based on the broader category of all women victims of physical violence

-screening requires one hour, in-depth assessment requires two-hours and cooperation with victim support services required half an hour

-25% of women victims qualify as high risk i.e. for in-depth assessment and referral to victim support services

-no set-up costs

-no Member State provides sufficient levels of individual risk assessment, but the cost is lower for Member States that carry out such assessments. Therefore, the total cost for Member States is discounted by 50% for Member States that carry out individual risk assessments in the baseline, and by 25% for Member States that partially carry out such assessments in the baseline 288 .

1.2.3.Estimation of costs of access to justice

a.Criminalisation

The total investment required is assumed to be negligible as there are likely to be low administrative costs to change national and EU legislation and several Member States already have laws in place criminalising various forms of violence against women and domestic violence.

b.Measures against gender-based cyber violence

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost for Member States to allow online/other low-threshold reporting of incidents of OVAW to national law enforcement or other authorities.

The following calculation is used, for each Member State:

   

   Assumptions used:

-constant reporting and prevalence of OVAW across Member States

-low threshold would translate into reporting of OVAW to police instead of platforms

-no set-up costs

-cost of training covered by [1.1 Training OVAW]

-cost of investigation covered by [3.5 Public prosecution]

-the assessment of the baseline did not find information on comparable measures in place, therefore it is assumed that all Member States incur full costs

c.Victim compensation

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of providing access to compensation for victims of online serious gender based harassment. It is assumed that bodily injury and impairment of health and meaningful compensation to violence against women and domestic violence victims are covered by the baseline scenario, as current EU law already requires States to provide such compensation for violent intentional crimes.

The following approach is used, for each Member State:

Note that costs were not estimated for two Member States (IT, MT) with missing data on prevalence and therefore the total costs might be higher than estimated.

Assumptions used:

-the number of women experiencing harassment or discrimination is used as an estimate of the number of victims serious gender based harassment.

-no set-up costs

-limited to costs for the state. Obligation of the future directive would put on States to pay compensation in those situations where the victim is not able to recover such compensation from the perpetrator or other sources. It is assumed the state pays in 50% of the cases.

-negligible costs are incurred to inform victims of violence against women and domestic violence about the possibility to request compensation from the perpetrator and to provide a decision in a reasonable time.

d.Public prosecution

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of investigation and prosecution ex officio of the new EU-crimes (on online violence).

The following approach is used, for each Member State:

   Assumptions used:

-due to lack of data available on the proportion of cases that are pursued ex officio, it is assumed that 20% of remaining of OVAW cases (i.e. cases not pursued by individual victims) are pursued ex officio for all Member States

-no set-up costs

-the assessment of the baseline did not find information on comparable measures in place, therefore it is assumed that all Member States incur full costs.

e.National coordination

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of ensuring legal standing to equality bodies to assist and represent violence against women and domestic violence, incl. OVAW, victims in line with COM Rec on equality.

The following approach is used, for each Member State:

   Assumptions used:

-2 additional FTEs required per Member State to assist and represent victims of violence against women and domestic violence including OVAW

-no set-up costs

-For countries with no data, assume average salary across 23 countries with data

-no costs for Member States where equality bodies already have a legal standing to receive GBV complaints or claims or sexual harassment and harassment based on sex

-for Member States where either equality bodies cannot receive GBV complaints or cannot receive claims of harassment, additional FTE's are needed. For Member State with no information on the baseline (SI), it is assumed that equality bodies have no legal standing and hence, full costs are incurred.

1.2.4.Estimated costs of victim support

a.General support – Special leave

The total investment required is negligible as general support services to victims of violence against women and domestic violence are covered in the baseline from a cost perspective. Additional costs are covered by 4.2 Specialist support, 4.3 Support to victims of OVAW, 4.4 Support to victims of gender-based harassment at work and 4.5 Access to shelters. Moreover, the cost if issuing guidelines is assumed to be minimal.

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of the obligation for MS to provide three days of special leave compensated at the level of sick leave for all victims of violence against women and domestic violence. The cost falls on companies. The following approach is used, for each Member State:

   

Note that costs where not estimated for two Member States (IT, MT) with missing data on prevalence and therefore the total costs might be higher than estimated.

   Assumptions used:

-due to lack of comparable data on the number of women victims of violence against women and domestic violence by Member State, the estimate of victims eligible is based on the broader category of all women victims of physical violence 

-Three-day leave is implemented in all MSs

-Level of sick leave compensation set at 100% of pay

-negligible cost of issuing guidelines

-no set-up costs.

b.Specialised support

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of ensuring availability of specialist women's support services to all women victims of violence and their children and groups at a heightened risk of violence (such as migrant women, victims from minority communities, women with disabilities, women working in the sex industry and women prisoners).

The following calculation is used, for each Member State:

Note that costs where not estimated for three Member States (RO, SI, SE) with missing data on the proportion of missing services and therefore the total costs might be higher than estimated.

   Assumptions used:

-due to lack of data available on Member State expenditure on specialist support services for women victims of violence against women and domestic violence and their children, the annual UK expenditure adjusted by relative population size of UK and each EU Member State is used

-no set-up costs

-the expenditure needed is a function of the percentage of missing expenditure on survivors of sexualised violence

-all Member States need an additional 10% of total expenditure to ensure availability of services to groups at heightened risk.

c.Support to victims of gender-based cyber violence

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of providing on- and offline support for victims of gender-based cyber violence against women.

The following approach is used, for each Member State:

   Assumptions used:

-no set-up costs

-each reported case of OVAW is dealt with 6 one-hour sessions

-on-line support is already covered under the helplines [4.6]

-the assessment of the baseline did not find information on comparable measures in place, therefore it is assumed that all Member States incur full costs

d.Support to victims of gender-based work harassment

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost to all employers including SMEs of providing support to victims of gender-based work harassment through one-to-one sessions (online or face-to-face).

The following calculation is used, for each Member State:

Assumptions used:

-no set-up costs

-for countries with 0% prevalence reported i.e. BG & RO, assume prevalence rate of EU-27 average

-each reported case of gender-based work harassment is dealt with two-hour sessions

-the assessment of the baseline did not find information on comparable measures in place, therefore it is assumed that all Member States incur full costs.

e.Shelters

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of providing an additional 10% of refuge spaces needed options 1 and 2A) and all spaces needed i.e. one refuge space per 10,000 population (2B) for women victims of violence against women and domestic violence and their children.

The following calculation is used, for each Member States:

Assumptions used:

-due to lack of available data, it is assumed that the expenditure needed to establish a shelter is the same across all Member States

-the encouragement of shelter provision (option 1 and 2A) would lead to 10% of additional beds provided and obligation to provide one refuge space for 10,000 population (2B) would lead to all additional beds provided

-the requirement for 1 space per 10,000 population would be sufficient to provide safe accommodation to all women victims of violence against women and domestic violence and their children that need it

-for Member States (CY, EE, LV, LU, MT, SI) that already exceed or meet the requirement for 1 space per 10,000 population in the baseline, no costs are incurred.

f.Helplines

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of setting-up and operating state-wide 24/7 helpline free of charge for victims of violence against women and domestic violence.

The following calculation is used, for each Member State:

)

Assumptions used:

-due to lack of available data, it is assumed that the budget needed to establish a helpline is the same across all Member States

-for Member States (AT, BG, CY, DK, EE, FI, DE, EL, IE, IT, LT, RO, SK, ES, SE) that have 24/7 toll free helpline in place for victims of violence against women and domestic violence 333 , no additional costs are incurred to set-up and operate the national helpline

-negligible cost of setting-up a harmonised EU helplines and no costs to run a harmonised EU helpline.

g.Coordination of measures against gender-based work harassment

The total investment required to discuss measures against gender-based harassment with social partners is assumed to be minimal.

1.2.5.Estimated costs of coordination

a.Monitoring, incl. data collection

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of participating in a survey coordinated at the EU-level on violence against women and domestic violence and of conducting administrative data collections at regular intervals meeting ICCS standards.

The following calculation is used, for each Member State:

Assumptions used:

-the assessment of the baseline did not find information national administrative data collection based on ICCS standards, therefore it is assumed that all Member States would incur this cost. Moreover, the costs to participate in an EU-level survey on violence against women and domestic violence represents a new cost to all Member States and therefore, all Member States would incur costs every two-years.

-assumed cost of €100 cost per interviewee includes all costs that would need to be incurred by Member States

-for countries with no data on sample size it is assumed that, an average across all countries is assumed

-due to lack of available data on number of hours required to change a data collection system and to complete questionnaires on administrative data, it is assumed that they require 120 hours each and that three administrative data collections would be required in a year.

b.Multi-agency service provision

The estimation of this measure is based on the cost of the obligation for MS to provide multi-agency and multi-disciplinary one-stop access to relevant protection and support services in the same premises. The following approach is used, for each Member State:

   
 

To match population differences, this is increased by 1 employee for every 2 million females aged 15 to 64 341 (when the female population is above 10 million)

   Assumptions used:

-Minimum of four staff members needed for information centre

-employees compensated at the level of “health and social workers”

-Assuming 52 times 40-hour weeks every year

-no set-up costs

1.3.Estimation of cost reductions (economic benefits)

The overall costs of violence against women and domestic violence estimated to be €290 billion by EIGE were used for the costs in the status quo. The estimated reduction in costs was calculated for each of the cost categories measured by EIGE, which includes 342 :

-Lost economic output to individual victims measured in lost earnings due to time taken off work and lost productivity

-Health services costs to national authorities as victims of gender-based violence make use of health services for treatment of physical and mental harms

-Criminal justice system costs to national authorities due to involvement in investigations and prosecutions of gender-based violence

-Civil justice system costs to national authorities to provide legal aid to victims of gender-based violence to separate from a violent partner

-Social welfare costs to national authorities to provide housing aid and child protection to victims of gender-based violence

-Personal costs to individual victims of moving homes due to divorce related to gender-based violence and to self-fund legal proceedings for separation from a violent partner

-Physical and emotional impacts to individual victims due to negative impacts of the crime on quality of life

The calculation of cost reductions were made using the formula below:

The following assumptions were made for the calculation:

-Two scenarios, short and long term, for each of the (sub-) options, were considered for the percentage reduction in prevalence: 15% and 20% reduction (option 1); 20% reduction and 30% reduction (2a) and 22% reduction and 32% reduction (2b). The scenario's build on the European Parliament's assessment of the added value of Gender-based violence as a new area of crime listed in Article 83(1) TFEU 343 . The assessment assumed that the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence will decrease by 10% in the short-term (about five years) and 20% – 30% in the long-term (about 10 years) after an EU–wide legislation is introduced.

-Given that policy option 2b includes additional measures for support to victims of violence against women and domestic violence and for prevention, the reduction in prevalence was assumed to be greater than that estimated by the European Parliament's assessment. This is consistent with e.g. an assessment of the US National Crime Victimization Survey (NVCS) that found that the use of victim services was associated with a 40 percent reduction in the risk of repeat victimisation 344 .

-The reduction in costs is proportionate to the decrease in prevalence of gender-based violence under each scenario.

-For the criminal and civil justice system, there are counteracting economic impacts of an increase in costs due to increased reporting of gender-based or domestic violence and a decrease in costs due to the reduction in prevalence. The assumed change is therefore a lower proportion compared to the other cost categories.

To estimate the percentage reduction for the criminal justice system and civil justice system, calculations were made using the formula below which is used by the European Parliament's assessment 345 :

The following sources and assumption were used for the above calculation:

-The measures under this policy option (e.g. criminalisation, awareness-raising, information provision to victims of violence against women and domestic violence and encouragement of reporting of violence against women and domestic violence by witnesses and professionals) is likely to lead to an increase in reporting of violence against women and domestic violence violence against women and domestic violencecases. This change in reporting rates would likely lead to higher costs for the criminal and civil justice system.

-The change in reporting rates is assumed to be 10% for option 2a. This assumption is based on a European Parliament study 346 which estimates that an EU Directive on gender-based cyberviolence could increase reporting rates by 5% to 10%. Given that this policy option includes measures beyond EU-level criminalisation, the higher bound of 10% is used.

-Given that reporting rates might increase further due to additional support measures in 2b, the reporting rate is assumed to be 12.5% for option 2b.

-The increase in reporting rates is assumed to be the same in the two scenarios for option 2a and 2b.

ANNEX 5: Assessment of measures

1.1.Problem area: prevention of violence against women and domestic violence

1.1.1.Assessment of measure 1.1.b Awareness raising, provision of information and training of professionals

Measure 1.1.b will include:

Right to information: Obligation of MS to provide information to victims of violence against women and domestic violence (IC art. 19).

Awareness raising: Obligation of MS to conduct regular awareness-raising and provide information to the general public (Art. 13 IC, 14 IC)

Awareness raising (online VAW): N/A

Training: Obligation of MS to provide training on violence against women and domestic violenceto relevant professionals dealing with victims or perpetrators (IC 15):

voluntary to participants;

at intervals determined by the MS

Training (online VAW): N/A

Assessment criterion

Assessment

Ensuring effective measures for preventing gender-based violence against women and domestic violence (in line with Chapter III of the Istanbul Convention)

The measure will have some impact in relation to achieving this policy objective. First, it will put in place, across the EU, in a comprehensive manner, a set of prevention measures aimed at raising awareness of the general public and specific target groups.

Currently, all 27 EU Member States operate awareness raising campaigns, mostly directly towards victims of DV/VAW to guide them towards dedicated helplines and information provision. However, their quality, coverage and frequency differ to a great extent. It would therefore be important for this measure to set some minimum standards as to the substance, type and scape of campaigns. Based on available evidence, larger, well-targeted campaigns using appropriate communication tools seem to have most impact. For example, in the last few years, due to a strong EU emphasis on the awareness raising part concerning prevention of VAW, many MS joined the EU campaign of ‘Orange the World’ carried out on 25 November – the international day of violence against women; the UN campaigns of 16 Days of Activist against VAW and White Ribbon Campaign and by organising and participating in visible, public events on 25th November where the situation of VAW is presented, discussed, political statements formulated and some new actions or plans announced.

The main impacts anticipated from awareness raising measures will be related to behavioural changes amongst victims, their immediate social environment, specific target groups, perpetrators and wider society. However, as they are aimed at the general public and not targeted, they may not engage with those who are harder to reach and potentially at heightened risk of violence. Such campaigns are also non-existent in the Member States.

The measure also includes an obligation to produce training to professionals dealing with victims and perpetrators. This would improve the nature and quality of support provided to victims. Training of police has also, for example, has been shown to result in stronger prosecution. 347 Although training is available in all Member States, it is does not include all relevant professionals.

Ensuring that victims and potential victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence are effectively protected from (further) violence

No impact on this objective

Ensuring the effective access to justice for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

The right to information will support women in obtaining better access to justice, as they will gain a better understanding of the legal process and relevant organisations to support them.

The training of professionals will, to a similar extent, ensure that relevant practitioners are able to better detect and respond to acts of violence. They will also be better able to cooperate with other relevant agencies. This is expected to improve overall access to justice for victims.

Ensuring the effective availability of support for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

The right to information will improve access to support services for women, as they will be better informed about services and organisations available.

The training of professionals may also, to some extent, contribute to this objective as professionals, as part of their increased knowledge of cooperation structures, may also be able to refer victims to relevant support services.

Ensuring that gender based harassment of women at work is effectively addressed    

No impact on this objective

Ensuring more effective governance structures in relation to gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective

Social impacts

If implemented, this measure is expected to have a limited extent of social impacts on the following groups.

Victims of violence against women or domestic violence

Awareness raising measures can be expected to lead to behavioural changes in terms of victims more willing to report such violence to the authorities, understand their rights to be free from violence, and seek help. The training of professionals and right to information will improve their access to justice and to support services. Particular groups of victims (child victims and witnesses, victims at risk of intersectional discrimination)

The training of professionals may lead to an improvement in the detection and handling of particular groups of victims.

Perpetrators of violence against women or domestic violence

Behavioural changes impacts from awareness raising measures can be expected in terms of perpetrators recognising their acts of violence, coming forward, and asking for help. For this, however, campaigns would need to be tailored to men.

Wider society

Positive impacts from awareness raising measures can be expected in terms of better understanding of such violence and changing social norms, raising the issue to the public attention, and increasing the public awareness of its extent and scale across society. Ultimately, they can help the wider public to take such violence more seriously and considerately and approaching it as an all-society problem. Transformative changes in social attitudes and acceptance take however relatively long time to spread into society.

In the more immediate environment of the victims (friends, relatives, neighbours), awareness raising measures can encourage the willingness to support victims in reporting and taking other actions, directly intervene, and help to address such violence. This should encourage the target groups to take action, intervene and help the victims by contacting the authorities and getting help.

Awareness raising measures aimed at children and young people can help to decrease the likelihood of such violence at a later life stage and increase the likelihood of reporting such violence when witnessed in their environment.

National authorities

Overall, political acceptance of the measure is likely to be high, considering that most already have similar ones in place.

Fundamental rights

Victims of violence against women and domestic violence:

-Right to life (Article 2)

-Right to the integrity of the person (Article 3)

-Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 4)

-Non-discrimination (Article 21)

-Rights of the elderly (Article 25)

-Integration of persons with disabilities (Article 26)

-Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial (Article 47)

Child victims /witnesses

-Protection of the rights of the child (Article 24).

Environmental impacts

No impacts expected.

Administrative and compliance costs

The costs of the measures are expected to be born by the EC, Member State authorities and support of other organisations (if running awareness-raising campaigns). More specifically:

The EC is expected to incur costs for the development of the Directive, and for providing additional guidance and organising consultation during transposition. It will also incur costs for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Directive.

Possibly, the EC may also co-fund awareness raising campaigns, but the costs of these are presented below and relate to public authorities.

Public authorities will incur costs for running the awareness-raising campaigns and developing and organising training to relevant professionals that are shown below.

One-off development cost

Running cost per annum

Total EU cost (Millions of euros)

Awareness-raising

0.5

1.7 – 4.0

1.7 – 4.0

Training

0.6

18.4

19.0

Costs for awareness-raising are based on minimum and maximum estimates for conducting one awareness-raising for the general public on violence against women and domestic violence. Costings assume that Member States would conduct an additional two such campaigns in a year compared to the baseline. Therefore, all Member States are assumed to incur the same costs for awareness-raising. While it is likely that a group of Member States that currently meet the IC standards would incur lower or close to zero costs and hence the total EU cost might be lower, information is not available to the number of campaigns conducted in these Member States in the baseline.

Training costs are based on the cost of developing a 2-hour online training session and the cost of attending a 2-hour training session for police officers, lawyers, prosecutors, and judges. The cost of attending a training session is based on number of police officers, lawyers, prosecutors, and judges (assuming 15% of the total number in each group attend the training session) and their hourly national wages. Costings assume that no Member States conduct training for relevant professionals dealing with victims or perpetrators in the baseline. Although details are not available on hours of training provided, Member States already provide training to relevant professionals on victims' rights in the baseline which means total EU costs might be lower. However, since existing trainings to do necessarily target violence against women and domestic violence victims, it is assumed that all Member States would incur additional costs.

The cost for the provision of information to victims of violence against women and domestic violence will be fulfilled through awareness-raising campaigns and training of professionals and therefore, costs are assumed to be zero.

Overall assessment

Overall, introducing a legal obligation and setting regular and mandatory awareness-raising, training and the right to information in a single legislative instrument specifically aimed at violence against women and domestic violence is expected to strengthen the implementation of relevant measures and improve their quality in many Member States, in particular in those which have not ratified the IC and those in which current measures are found to be lacking or insufficient in scale or scope. These measures are crucial are tackling embedded negative gender stereotypes and norms that are at the heart of violence against women. The training is not however mandatory which may mean gaps in the provision of training remain. It will bring benefits to victims and wider society, and may also help potential and actual perpetrators to change their behaviour.

The total investment required amount to Million Euros 20.7 – 22.9.

The measure is likely to find political acceptance, as Member States overall already have similar activities in place, although some may have to significantly scale them up.

1.1.2.Assessment of measure 1.1.c Awareness raising, provision of information and training of professionals

Right to information:

Obligation of MS to provide information to victims of violence against women and domestic violence (IC art. 19).

Awareness raising:

Obligation of MS to conduct regular awareness-raising and provide information to the general public (Art. 13 IC, 14 IC)

Targeted awareness-raising and provision of information for groups at a heightened risk of violence against women and domestic violence

Awareness raising (online VAW): 

Information provision on OVAW to the general public and relevant professionals (incl. media literacy).

Training:

Obligation of MS to provide mandatory and regular training on violence against women and domestic violence to relevant professionals dealing with victims or perpetrators (IC 15):

voluntary to participants;

at intervals determined by the MS

Training (online VAW):

Equipment of law enforcement and judicial authorities with specialized resources/training to prosecute OVAW.

Assessment criterion

Score

Assessment

Effectiveness: contributing to achieving the policy objectives

Ensuring effective measures for preventing gender-based violence against women and domestic violence (in line with Chapter III of the Istanbul Convention)

The measure will have some impact in relation to achieving this policy objective. First, as with measure 1.1.b, it will put in place, across the EU, in a comprehensive manner, a set of prevention measures aimed at raising awareness of the general public.

Currently, all 27 EU Member States operate awareness raising campaigns, mostly directly towards victims of violence against women and domestic violenceto guide them towards dedicated helplines and information provision. However, their quality, coverage and frequency differ to a great extent. It would therefore be important for this measure to set some minimum standards as to the substance, type and scape of campaigns. Based on available evidence, larger, well-targeted campaigns using appropriate communication tools seem to have most impact. For example, in the last few years, due to a strong EU emphasis on the awareness raising part concerning prevention of VAW, many MS joined the EU campaign of ‘Orange the World’ carried out on 25 November – the international day of violence against women; the UN campaigns of 16 Days of Activist against VAW and White Ribbon Campaign and by organising and participating in visible, public events on 25th November where the situation of VAW is presented, discussed, political statements formulated and some new actions or plans announced.

The main impacts anticipated from awareness raising measures will be related to behavioural changes amongst victims, their immediate social environment, specific target groups, perpetrators and wider society. The measure will also implement targeted awareness-raising and provision of information for groups at a heightened risk of violence against women and domestic violence, which will engage with those who are harder to reach and potentially at heightened risk of violence. Such campaigns are also non-existent in the Member States.

Finally, the measure will add provisions on online violence against women. Information will be provided to the general public and relevant professionals specifically on this topic, including on media literacy. This will help prevent this form of violence, and will educate victims and the wider public about their rights related to online violence. Further, including this type of targeted information provision in a legal instrument about gender-based violence and violence against women will send the message that this form of gendered violence is unacceptable and must be addressed. The measure will also equip law enforcement and judicial authorities with specialized resources and training to prosecute online violence against women, which will increase investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of such perpetrators.

The training of professionals is also expected to positively impact on this objective, as it will help professionals on how to prevent secondary victimisation. This measure will implement mandatory and regular training, which will enhance prevention through ensuring consistency in professional conduct. Training professionals in a mandatory and regular way will also send the message that it is crucial to appropriately and adequately help victims of gender-based violence and violence against women. While in place in all Member States, it is not mandatory in all Member States (see Mapping in Annex) and the new Directive will add important value in terms of setting out the minimum standards for such training, based on the IC.

Ensuring that victims and potential victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence are effectively protected from (further) violence

No impact on this objective

Ensuring the effective access to justice for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

As with measure 1.1.b, the right to information will support women in obtaining better access to justice, as they will gain a better understanding of the legal process and relevant organisations to support them.

The regular and mandatory training of professionals will, to a similar extent, ensure that relevant practitioners are able to better detect and respond to acts of violence. They will also be better able to cooperate with other relevant agencies. This is expected to improve overall access to justice for victims.

The measure will also equip law enforcement and judicial authorities with specialized resources and training to prosecute online violence against women, which will increase investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of such perpetrators.

Ensuring the effective availability of support for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

As with measure 1.1.b, the right to information will improve access to support services for women, as they will be better informed about services and organisations available.

The regular and mandatory training of professionals may also, to some extent, contribute to this objective as professionals, as part of their increased knowledge of cooperation structures, may also be able to refer victims to relevant support services.

Ensuring that gender based harassment of women at work is effectively addressed    

No impact on this objective

Ensuring more effective governance structures in relation to gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective

Effectiveness – other impacts

Social impacts

If implemented, this measure is expected to have a limited extent of social impacts on the following groups.

Victims of violence against women and domestic violence

Awareness raising measures can be expected to lead to behavioural changes in terms of victims more willing to report such violence to the authorities, understand their rights to be free from violence, and seek help, including specifically related to online violence against women. The training of professionals and right to information will improve their access to justice and to support services.

Particular groups of victims (child victims and witnesses, victims at risk of intersectional discrimination)

The regular and mandatory training of professionals may lead to an improvement in the detection and handling of particular groups of victims. Awareness-raising and provision of information will also be targeted for groups at a heightened risk of gender-based violence and domestic violence, which will ensure particular groups of victims (including those at risk of intersectional discrimination) will receive information about their rights which is specific and sensitive to their needs.

Perpetrators of violence against women and domestic violence

Behavioural changes impacts from awareness raising measures can be expected in terms of perpetrators recognising their acts of violence, coming forward, and asking for help. For this, however, campaigns would need to be tailored to men.

The measure will equip law enforcement and judicial authorities with specialized resources and training to prosecute online violence against women, which will increase investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of such perpetrators.

Wider society

Positive impacts from awareness raising measures can be expected in terms of better understanding of such violence and changing social norms, raising the issue to the public attention, and increasing the public awareness of its extent and scale across society. The information provision in this measure will also include specific information about online violence against women, and ultimately, they can help the wider public to take such violence more seriously and considerately and approaching it as an all-society problem.

In the more immediate environment of the victims (friends, relatives, neighbours), awareness raising measures can encourage the willingness to support victims in reporting and taking other actions, directly intervene, and help to address such violence. This should encourage the target groups to take action, intervene and help the victims by contacting the authorities and getting help.

Awareness raising measures aimed at children and young people can help to decrease the likelihood of such violence at a later life stage and increase the likelihood of reporting such violence when witnessed in their environment.

National authorities

Overall, political acceptance of the measure is likely to be high, considering that most already have similar ones in place.

Fundamental rights

Victims of violence against women and domestic violence:

-Right to life (Article 2)

-Right to the integrity of the person (Article 3)

-Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 4)

-Non-discrimination (Article 21)

-Rights of the elderly (Article 25)

-Integration of persons with disabilities (Article 26)

-Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial (Article 47)

Child victims /witnesses

-Protection of the rights of the child (Article 24).

Environmental impacts

No impacts expected.

Efficiency: comparison of benefits and costs

Administrative and compliance costs

This option requires that Member States conducted targeted awareness-raising campaigns providing information to groups at heightened risk of violence against women and domestic violence and provide regular and mandatory training to professionals working with violence against women and domestic violence. Therefore, in addition to the costs estimated under 1.1b, public authorities will incur costs for running more targeted awareness-raising campaigns and developing and organising tailored trainings for relevant professionals.

One-off development cost

Running cost per annum

Total EU cost (Millions of euros)

Awareness-raising

-

2.2 – 4.4

2.2 – 4.4

Training

1.2

24.5

25.7

Costs for awareness raising are based on the unit cost of a campaign that targets groups at heightened risk of violence against women and domestic violence. Costings assume that Member States would conduct two such campaigns in a year in addition to two campaigns in a for the general public on violence against women and domestic violence year compared to the baseline

Training costs are based on the cost of developing an additional 2-hour online training session tailored to violence against women and domestic violence victims and the cost of attending a 2-hour training session for police officers, lawyers, prosecutors, and judges that work with victims of violence against women and domestic violence. The cost of attending a training session is based on number of police officers, lawyers, prosecutors, and judges (assuming an additional 5% of the total number in each group attend the training session) and their hourly national wages. Costings assume that no Member States conduct regular training for professionals working with victims of violence against women and domestic violence in the baseline.

The approach to right to information is the same as the second policy option and therefore no additional costs are incurred.

Overall assessment

Overall, introducing a legal obligation and setting regular and mandatory awareness-raising, training and the right to information in a single legislative instrument specifically aimed at violence against women and domestic violence is expected to strengthen the implementation of relevant measures and improve their quality in many Member States, in particular in those which have not ratified the IC and those in which current measures are found to be lacking or insufficient in scale or scope. This measure improves upon measure 1.1.b as it adds targeted awareness-raising and provision of information for groups at a heightened risk, information provision on OVAW to the general public and relevant professionals (including media literacy), equipment of law enforcement and judicial authorities with specialized resources/training to prosecute online violence against women, and makes the training of professionals regular and mandatory.

The measure will contribute to meeting three policy objectives by bringing positive changes in terms of a greater awareness, better understanding, etc. It will bring benefits to victims and wider society, and may also help perpetrators to change their behaviour and seek help. In comparison to measure 1.1.b, the measure will additionally include targeted awareness-raising and provision of information for groups at a heightened risk, improving vulnerable groups’ awareness about their rights.

The total investment required amount to 31.7 – 36.2 Million Euros.

The measure is likely to find political acceptance, as Member States overall already have similar activities in place, although some may have to significantly scale them up.

1.1.3.Assessment of measure 1.2.b gender-based cyber violence against women - self-regulatory standards

Self-regulatory standards: Encouragement of MS to encourage IT platforms and the media to establish self-regulatory standards to address violence against women and domestic violence and the root causes of such violence (Art. 17 IC).

Assessment criterion

Score

Assessment

Effectiveness: contributing to achieving the policy objectives

Ensuring effective measures for preventing gender-based violence against women and domestic violence (in line with Chapter III of the Istanbul Convention)

This measure will encourage Member States to incentivise the private sector, the information and communication technology sector, and the media to implement self-regulatory standards. These standards will prevent online violence against women and domestic violence and will enhance respect for the dignity of such victims, an area which has been severely lacking in regulation and monitoring. Guidelines and standards brought in by the sector will limit the sharing of violent or abusive content, therefore reducing the capacity of perpetrators to conduct online abuse.

Victims of gender-based online violence against women have benefitted somewhat from the general EU provisions applicable to all victims, for example Art. 21(2) of the Victims Rights Directives requires Member States to encourage the media to take self-regulatory measures to protect the privacy of victims. However, a strength of this measure will be to specifically address online violence against women which will more effectively and comprehensively contribute to effective protection and support.

Currently, no countries, except Romania, have a specific definition of online violence in law. Eleven states (BE, FR, IE, IT, MT, NL, PL, PT, ES, SE) have criminalised or are about to criminalise non-consensual dissemination of intimate/private/sexual images specifically. A clear definition and/or criminalisation would facilitate the establishment of self-regulatory standards, as the latter could be based on principles in the law. However, for Member States without a definition or criminalisation, the standards will not have such a basis. Industry’s own self-regulatory standards brought in by this measure should nevertheless reduce the availability of online violence, including non-consensual dissemination of intimate/private/sexual images.

The self-regulatory standards could include measures recommended by GREVIO, including offering easily accessible effective complaint mechanisms for users to report harmful content, incentivising commercial online activities that incorporate a human rights perspective at all stages of their activity, and making legal information and information about requesting the removal of non-consensual content, including images or videos, available on their platforms. Another standard could be to ensure that spy software or stalkerware cannot do harm.

However, the measure is self-regulatory and therefore will have less impact and harmonisation than a binding measure. Further, the effects of this measure will be dependent on the content of the guidelines and measures the industry chooses to bring in. GREIVO baseline evaluation reports for some Member States noted that existing self-regulatory instruments did not address the representation of women in a stereotyped and sexualised manner and/or address the reporting on violence against women and the harm caused by violence to child witnesses.

Ensuring that victims and potential victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence are effectively protected from (further) violence

The measure will help protect victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence from further violence if the repeated violence is occurring online, as the industry’s self-regulatory standards may prohibit certain materials and images being used.

Ensuring the effective access to justice for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring the effective availability of support for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring that gender based harassment of women at work is effectively addressed    

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring more effective governance structures in relation to gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Effectiveness – other impacts

Social impacts

If implemented, this measure is expected to have a limited extent of social impacts on the following groups.

Victims of violence against women and domestic violence

Self-regulatory standards can enhance the dignity and safety of the victims of online violence against women and domestic violence as the sector will limit the opportunity for perpetrators to share violent or abusive content.

Particular groups of victims (child victims and witnesses, victims at risk of intersectional discrimination)

The impact on particular groups will depend on the content of the standards and guidelines; the standards could for example include specific rules related to content of children.

Perpetrators of violence against women and domestic violence

The measure is expected to impact perpetrators as sharing violent or abusive content would violate platforms’ guidelines or standards, and therefore perpetrators would be expected to be less likely to share such content. The measure may also have an impact on the freedom of expression rights of perpetrators if their content is (unjustly) removed for violating self-regulatory standards.

Wider society

The measure would improve the experience of all users of online platforms, as all users will be less likely to encounter violent or abusive content.

It will also clearly impact the private and ICT sector as they will be creating and implementing the self-regulatory standards.

National authorities

This will likely find political acceptance as it will not require Member States to enact binding or obligatory measures.

Fundamental rights

The measure is expected to enhance in particular the following fundamental rights.

Victims of online violence against women

-Right to the integrity of the person (Article 3)

-Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 4)

-Respect for private and family life (Article 7)

-Non-discrimination (Article 21)

-Equality between women and men (Article 23)

-Protection of personal data (Article 8)

-Freedom of expression and information (Article 11)

Child victims /witnesses

-Protection of the rights of the child (Article 24).

Environmental impacts

No impacts expected.

Efficiency: comparison of benefits and costs

Administrative and compliance costs

N/A

Overall assessment

Overall, encouraging Member States to encourage the online sector to establish self-regulatory standards to address violence against women and domestic violence and the root causes of such violence is expected to prevent online violence against women and domestic violence to some extent in many Member States, in particular in those which have not ratified the IC and those in which current measures are found to be lacking or insufficient in scale or scope. As the measures will be self-regulatory, they may not be as strong or effective as binding rules.

The total investment required is negligible as large online platforms provide codes of conduct that are stricter in nature in identifying illegal content online to be removed than national law.

This measure is likely find political acceptance as it will not require Member States to enact binding or obligatory measures.

1.1.4.Assessment of measure 1.2.c gender-based cyber violence against women - self-regulatory standards

Self-regulatory standards: Obligation for MS to oblige very large platforms to implement Codes of Conduct to mitigate risk of OVAW.

Measures directed at intermediary service providers: Measures obliging to:

Act on or inform law enforcement upon request in cases of OVAW (see Art. 8, 9 DSA)

Process data for the voluntary detection, reporting or removal of criminalized ICT-facilitated gender-based violence as defined, in particular on the basis of a central repository of hashes.

Assessment criterion

Score

Assessment

Effectiveness: contributing to achieving the policy objectives

Ensuring effective measures for preventing gender-based violence against women and domestic violence (in line with Chapter III of the Istanbul Convention)

This measure will oblige Member States to require very large online platforms to implement Codes of Conduct. For smaller stakeholders in the private sector, the information and communication technology sector, and the media, Member States will be encouraged to incentivise self-regulatory standards, as in measure 1.2.b.

Both the Codes (for large platforms) and the self-regulatory standards (for smaller stakeholders) will mitigate risk and prevent online violence against women and domestic violence and will enhance respect for the dignity of such victims, an area which has been severely lacking in regulation and monitoring. Codes of Conduct (for large platforms) and self-regulatory standards (for smaller stakeholders) brought in by the sector will limit the sharing of violent or abusive content, therefore reducing the capacity of perpetrators to conduct online abuse. The Codes of Conduct and self-regulatory standards could include measures recommended by GREVIO, including offering easily accessible effective complaint mechanisms for users to report harmful content, incentivising commercial online activities that incorporate a human rights perspective at all stages of their activity, and making legal information and information about requesting the removal of non-consensual content, including images or videos, available on their platforms. Another preventative action which could be in the Codes and standards is to ensure that spy software or stalkerware cannot do harm.

The measure will also oblige the large platforms to act on or inform law enforcement upon request in cases of online violence against women, and to process data for the voluntary detection, reporting or removal of criminalized ICT-facilitated gender-based violence as defined, in particular on the basis of a central repository of hashes.

As with measure 1.2.b., a clear definition and/or criminalisation in a Member State will facilitate the establishment of Codes of Conduct and self-regulatory standards in the Member States which have them (only RO has a specific definition of online violence in law; the following have criminalised or are about to criminalize non-consensual dissemination of intimate/private/sexual images: BE, FR, IE, IT, MT, NL, PL, PT, ES, SE), as the standards could be based on principles in the law. However, for Member States without a definition or criminalisation, the Codes will not have such a basis. Nevertheless, the Codes of Conduct and standards brought in by this measure will reduce the availability of online violence, and the involvement of the online platforms in detecting and processing data related to online violence against women will reduce ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.

Victims of gender-based online violence against women have benefitted somewhat from the general EU provisions applicable to all victims, for example Art. 21(2) of the Victims Rights Directives requires Member States to encourage the media to take self-regulatory measures to protect the privacy of victims. However, a strength of this measure (as with measure 1.2.b) will be to specifically address online violence against women which will more effectively and comprehensively contribute to effective protection and support.

Compared to measure 1.2.b, this measure will be more effective as large platforms will be obliged to implement Codes of Conduct, rather than encouraged to implement self-regulatory standards. This will be more effective as they will be mandatory, and there will be more scope for controlling the content of the Codes. However, proportionality will be ensured as smaller platforms and providers will simply be encouraged to implement self-regulatory standards.

Ensuring that victims and potential victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence are effectively protected from (further) violence

The measure will help protect victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence from further violence if the repeated violence is occurring online, as the Codes of Conduct (for large platforms) and self-regulatory standards (for smaller stakeholders) will prohibit certain materials and images being used.

The obligation for platforms to report and process data relating to online violence against women on their platforms will facilitate the removal of content and potential prosecution of perpetrators, therefore protecting victims from potential further online violence.

Ensuring the effective access to justice for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

The obligation for platforms to report and process data relating to online violence against women on their platforms will facilitate the work of law enforcement, enabling faster and more effective removal of content and prosecution of perpetrators.

Ensuring the effective availability of support for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring that gender based harassment of women at work is effectively addressed    

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring more effective governance structures in relation to gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Effectiveness – other impacts

Social impacts

If implemented, this measure is expected to have a limited extent of social impacts on the following groups.

Victims of violence against women and domestic violenceGBVviolence against women and domestic violence

Codes of Conduct (for large platforms) and self-regulatory standards (for smaller stakeholders) can be expected to enhance the safety and dignity of the victims of online violence against women and domestic violence, as the sector will limit the opportunity for perpetrators to share violent or abusive content. The participation of large platforms in informing law enforcement and processing data related to online violence against women will also facilitate justice for victims through punitive measures.

Particular groups of victims (child victims and witnesses, victims at risk of intersectional discrimination)

The impact on particular groups will depend on the content of the Codes of Conduct and standards; they could for example include specific rules related to content of children.

Perpetrators of violence against women and domestic violenceGBVviolence against women and domestic violence

The measure is expected to impact perpetrators as sharing violent or abusive content would violate platforms’ Codes of Conduct (for large platforms) and self-regulatory standards (for smaller stakeholders), and therefore perpetrators would be expected to be less likely to share such content. When platforms act or inform law enforcement in cases of online violence against women, this will facilitate investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of perpetrators. The measure may also have an impact on the freedom of expression and data protection rights of perpetrators if their content is (unjustly) removed for violating self-regulatory standards or Codes of Conduct, and if personal information is shared with law enforcement.

Wider society

The measure would improve the experience of all users of online platforms, as all users will be less likely to encounter violent or abusive content.

It will also clearly impact the private and ICT sector as they will need to implement the Codes of Conduct and self-regulatory standards, and monitor and act on cases of online violence against women.

National authorities

Political acceptance of this measure may be somewhat lower, as it would require Member States to monitor and enforce implementation, and law enforcement to act upon reporting. As mentioned earlier, Member States which do not have a definition in law, or a working definition in practice, will have to introduce one and criminalise this type of offence. On the other hand, several Member States may consider the measure a welcome EU action, providing the opportunity for a more harmonised approach, given the high cross-border dimension of online abuse.

Fundamental rights

The measure is expected to enhance in particular the following fundamental rights.

Victims of online violence against women and domestic violence

-Right to the integrity of the person (Article 3)

-Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 4)

-Respect for private and family life (Article 7)

-Non-discrimination (Article 21)

-Equality between women and men (Article 23)

-Protection of personal data (Article 8)

-Freedom of expression and information (Article 11)

Child victims /witnesses

-Protection of the rights of the child (Article 24).

The measure may have a somewhat negative impact on:

Perpetrators of online violence against women and domestic violence

-Freedom of expression and information (Article 11)

-Protection of personal data (Article 8)

Especially if the latter are unjustly identified and investigated.

Environmental impacts

No impacts expected.

Efficiency: comparison of benefits and costs

Administrative and compliance costs

N/A

Overall assessment

Overall, obliging large platforms to implement Codes of Conduct (for large platforms) and self-regulatory standards (for smaller stakeholders) related to online violence against women is expected to prevent online violence against women to some extent in many Member States, in particular in those which have not ratified the IC and those in which current measures are found to be lacking or insufficient in scale or scope. Requiring large platforms to act on, inform law enforcement, and process data when acts of violence against women are conducted on their platforms will facilitate the removal of such violent material and assist law enforcement to act swiftly in such cases. This will contribute to increased safety for women and enhanced prosecution of perpetrators, which may have a deterrent effect.

The total investment required is negligible as large online platforms provide codes of conduct that are stricter in nature in identifying illegal content online to be removed than national law.

Political acceptance of this measure may be somewhat lower, as it would require Member States to monitor and enforce implementation, and law enforcement to act upon reporting.



1.1.5.Assessment of measure 1.3.c.I - specific prevention measures against gender-based work harassment

Obligation on MS and employers to provide information and raise awareness

Obligation on all employers to provide training of managers, develop anti-harassment policies and risk assessments

 

Assessment criterion

Score

Assessment

Effectiveness: contributing to achieving the policy objectives

Ensuring effective measures for preventing gender-based violence against women and domestic violence (in line with Chapter III of the Istanbul Convention)

The EELN report highlights shortcomings in the implementation of the EU directives in terms of effectiveness, including insufficient prevention measures. 348 In the majority of baseline evaluation reports, (including those on AT, DK, IT, and SE), GREVIO called on the authorities to ensure that the private sector/employers take an active part in the prevention of violence against women, for example, by engaging them actively in policy development processes or by encouraging them to develop self regulatory standards, or, more generally, to take an active part in preventing and combating violence against women in all its forms. More specifically, in some Member States these actions do not appear to be implemented or its implementation is difficult to assess.

This measure would improve these shortcomings by implementing awareness-raising and information provision on gender-based work harassment; mandatory training of managers, and mandatory policies and risk assessments on gender-based harassment at work. These actions are crucial for preventing violence against women and gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace, and further building awareness in this way can limit gender based behaviours which, while not reaching the threshold of severity that would allow them to be qualified as violence under the Istanbul Convention, are often the precursors of violence and/or promote its emergence or minimise it, as a manifestation of the structural inequalities that persist between women and men in the world of employment.

See the row below on addressing the harassment of women at work for a more specific assessment related to workplace harassment.

Ensuring that victims and potential victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence are effectively protected from (further) violence

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring the effective access to justice for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring the effective availability of support for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring that gender based harassment of women at work is effectively addressed    

In its baseline evaluation reports, GREVIO highlights some current examples of good practice related to harassment at work, including in Portugal, France, and Malta, as described in measure 1.3.b. Further, social partners have engaged in a wide range of measures and successfully provided assistance, particularly through collective bargaining. 349 However, as described in measure 1.3.b, there are many described shortcomings with the current state of affairs in Europe. Social partners cited ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No.190) as guiding their work in this area because they provide far more comprehensive and specific provisions, 350 and this measure is based on ILO-190.

The measure will implement awareness-raising and information provision on gender-based work harassment; training of managers; and mandatory policies and risk assessments on gender-based harassment at work. This will ensure that when work-based harassment occurs, a victim’s colleagues and managers, as well as the government and social partners, will be informed and prepared to help support the victim and address the harassment swiftly and effectively.

Currently, sexual harassment is defined in gender-neutral terms across Directive 2006/54/EC, 2004/113/EC and 2010/41/EU, and the EELN report highlights fragmentation of the provisions across different legal instruments as shortcomings in the implementation of the EU directives. 351 Bringing in a comprehensive and specific legal framework on violence against women and domestic violence will emphasize the experience of women at work, sending a powerful message of zero tolerance towards gender based violence in the work environment, and will harmonise fragmented provisions. The measure will also clearly reference harassment on the basis of gender rather than sex. Having a strong legal framework is also essential to enabling unions to negotiate concrete sectoral and workplace measures.

Further, there has been a ‘slow transition’ from an understanding of sexual harassment at work from a health and safety approach that views it as an issue of ‘dignity’, to an approach that recognises sexual harassment as due to discrimination and rooted in gender equality and thus a form of gender based violence. 352 The ETUC found that, as violence and harassment have become a part of mainstream safety and health and wellbeing at work policies, they are not gender-sensitive and ‘not seen as a structural gender equality issue’. 353 GREVIO has also identified the provision of training to relevant stakeholders including a component on the recognition of gendered dynamics, and the impact and consequences of violence on victims as a necessary pathway to ensure service provision based on a gendered understanding. The awareness-raising, information provision, and mandatory training brought in by this measure would accelerate this shift in understanding as employers, employees, and officials gain understanding.

The mandatory policies and risk assessments on gender-based harassment at work will ensure structures are in place to punish perpetrators and address situations of violence and harassment effectively and quickly.

Finally, there will be benefits to bringing in a comprehensive and specific legal framework on violence against women and domestic violence through this measure. It will emphasize the experience of women at work, sending a powerful message of zero tolerance towards gender-based violence in the work environment, and will harmonise fragmented provisions. Another key impact will be a focus on gender rather than sex when referring to discrimination, which will more appropriately address the underlying causes of gender discrimination and structural obstacles that women face due to socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and identities rather than biological attributes.

Ensuring more effective governance structures in relation to gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Effectiveness – other impacts

Social impacts

Victims of violence against women and domestic violence

Awareness-raising, information provision, and mandatory training will ensure all relevant actors are primed and prepared to recognise and prevent violence and harassment in the workplace, to reduce the number of victims and ensure justice when violence and harassment occurs.

Particular groups of victims (child victims and witnesses, victims at risk of intersectional discrimination)

The impact on particular groups will depend on the content of the training and awareness raising; for example they could cover employees at risk of intersectional discrimination in the workplace, including potential victims of both gender-based and race-based harassment.

Perpetrators of violence against women or domestic violence

The measure is expected to impact perpetrators as harassment would violate the mandatory policies, and therefore perpetrators would be expected to be less likely to engage in harassment and violence. When other actors are trained and prepared to recognise instances of violence and harassment, this will facilitate investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of perpetrators.

Wider society

There will be an impact on government (as awareness-raising, information provision, and mandatory policies are brought in), social partners (awareness-raising, information provision, and mandatory policies), companies (awareness-raising, information provision, and mandatory policies), managers (mandatory training), and staff (voluntary training).

Importantly, this will be mandatory only for large employers, as SMEs will only need to offer training on a voluntary basis and are encouraged to develop anti-harassment policies and risk assessments.

National authorities

The measure could encounter some resistance by some Member States, due to the sensibilities around the gender versus sex debate also in relation to the IC

Fundamental rights

The measure is expected to enhance in particular the following fundamental rights.

Victims of violence against women or domestic violence:

-Right to the integrity of the person (Article 3)

-Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 4)

-Non-discrimination (Article 21)

-Equality between women and men (Article 23)

Victims of sex-based harassment

-Right to fair and just working conditions (Article 31)

-Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial (Article 47)

Environmental impacts

No impacts expected.

Efficiency: comparison of benefits and costs

Administrative and compliance costs

The costs are expected to be borne by employers and Member State authorities. More specifically:

Public authorities may develop their own training on violence against women or domestic violence in the workplace that can be used across Member States.

This policy option requires mandatory training of all managers in all companies on violence against women or domestic violence in the workplace. Employers will incur costs for developing and organising trainings for all managers on violence against women or domestic violence.

One-off development cost

Running cost per annum

Total EU cost (Millions of euros)

Training

0.6

1893.9

1894.5

Training costs are based on the cost of developing a 2-hour online training session on violence against women or domestic violence in the workplace and the cost of attending a 2-hour training session for managers. The cost of attending a training session is based on an estimate of the number of managers per employer, assuming an average of one manager per 10 employees, and their hourly national wages. Costings assume that no Member States conduct such trainings in the baseline.

Overall assessment

Overall, this measure would represent a large improvement over the current baseline situation (and therefore over measure 1.3.b). The introduction of awareness-raising and information provision; mandatory of managers on violence against women and domestic violence; and mandatory policies and risk assessments on gender-based harassment at work will ensure awareness and preparedness of relevant stakeholders to prevent and deal with gender-based violence and harassment when it occurs. It will also formalise and harmonise provisions at the EU level, sending a powerful message of zero tolerance towards gender-based violence in the work environment, harmonising fragmented provisions.

The measure will bring benefits to victims and wider society, and will impact perpetrators by facilitating investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of perpetrators. Depending on the content of the implemented provisions, the measure may be able to reach more vulnerable groups as well.

The total investment required amount to 1,894.5 Million Euros.

The measure could encounter some resistance by some Member States, due to the sensibilities around the gender versus sex debate also in relation to the IC



1.1.6.Assessment of measure 1.4.b - work with perpetrators

Perpetrator intervention and treatment programmes:

Obligation of MS to have perpetrator intervention and treatment programmes in place for those sentenced for perpetrating violence against women and domestic violence (IC Art. 16); mandatory participation for re-offenders or mandatory participation for all offenders.

Leaving flexibility to MS as to programme availability, format (online or in person) etc.

Assessment criterion

Score

Assessment

Effectiveness: contributing to achieving the policy objectives

Ensuring effective measures for preventing gender-based violence against women and domestic violence (in line with Chapter III of the Istanbul Convention)

The measure will oblige Member States to have perpetrator intervention and treatment programmes in place for those sentenced for perpetrating gender-based violence and violence against women, whilst leaving flexibility to Member States regarding programme availability and format (online or in person). By engaging and working with perpetrators, this will reduce the chances that a previous perpetrator will engage in violence against women or domestic violence in the future.

At present, the EU provisions do not regulate treatment of perpetrators as such. The European Network for Work with Perpetrators (WWP EN) said that most countries do not have structured programmes in place for perpetrators, although there are more in prison. 354 Although all but one country (HU) reported having set up support programmes for perpetrators of VAW/DV, attribution cannot be made to the directives. 355 Similarly, WWP EN said that the directives had limited relevance to their work. The measure will bring in mandatory perpetrator intervention and treatment programmes at the EU level, expanding the present provision of such programmes.

WWP EN stated that at present, the Istanbul Convention is the main driver of change across the EU; 356 the measure corresponds to Art 16 of the Istanbul Convention and will therefore expand provisions already existing in Member States which have ratified and implemented the Istanbul Convention to other Member States.

GREVIO has called on the authorities to increase the number of available programmes for perpetrators of domestic violence in its baseline evaluation reports on several countries. In the Member States with programmes in place, description of the existing measures show that most target domestic violence and not all are compulsory. At present, there are mandatory programmes for perpetrators in seven Member States (BE, CZ, ES, LV, PL, PT, FR for those in prison, and HR as part of probation service), and programmes are voluntary in ten Member States (DK, EE, FI, IE, IT, LU, NL, RO, SE, SI). Making the programme compulsory for those sentenced for perpetrating gender-based violence and violence against women will therefore have the largest impact on prevention in these ten Member States. In its baseline evaluation reports for some countries (including AT, DK, FI, IT, MT, NL, PT), GREVIO also called on the authorities to increase the levels of attendance of perpetrator programmes for domestic violence. The introduction of mandatory programmes would clearly have an impact on increasing attendance and accordingly more effectively preventing future violence.

Further, gender is included and considered in the present programmes in most Member States (AT, BE, BG, CY, DE, DK, EE, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, RO, SE, SI), although it is not included in three (CZ, LV, PT) therefore the inclusion of these mandatory programmes in a gender-focused instrument will bring the most impact in these countries.

The effectiveness of the programmes will depend somewhat on their content. The programmes would be expected to have a larger preventative effect if they are designed to encourage perpetrators to take responsibility for their actions, examine their attitudes and beliefs towards women and incorporate a gendered understanding of violence against women, as recommended by GREVIO. GREVIO also recommends that authorities ensure that the programmes incorporate a uniform gendered approach and deconstruction of sexist stereotypes. The programmes could also take an approach such as that taken in Andorra, whereby a programme is aimed at boys who reproduce violent patterns of behaviour to which they were exposed or of which they were direct victims.

Further, details of the programmes such as their availability and format (online or in person) in this measure would be left as flexible to the Member States. If programmes have limited availability this will clearly limit participation and therefore effectiveness in preventing violence and abuse. If programmes are online, this would increase accessibility but may be less impactful than in person. The policy measure should, where possible, include some minimum standards for the programmes, in relation to reach, duration, elements to be covered, etc.

Ensuring that victims and potential victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence are effectively protected from (further) violence

The measure will ensure that sentenced perpetrators undergo programmes to reduce the likelihood they re-victimise the same victims, for the same reasons described above.

Ensuring the effective access to justice for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

GREVIO has expressed concerns that in Austria and Portugal, perpetrator programmes were ordered to replace prosecution, conviction or sentencing. Therefore, these programmes will be most effective if authorities ensure that the interplay between perpetrator programmes and criminal proceedings does not work against the principle of victims’ access to fair and just legal processes.

Ensuring the effective availability of support for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring that gender based harassment of women at work is effectively addressed    

No impact on this objective.

Ensuring more effective governance structures in relation to gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective.

Effectiveness – other impacts

Social impacts

Victims of violence against women or domestic violenceviolence against women or domestic violence

Introducing mandatory perpetrator programmes will protect victims and potential victims of gender-based violence and violence against women as they will reduce the likelihood that previous perpetrators will offend again.

Particular groups of victims (child victims and witnesses, victims at risk of intersectional discrimination)

The impact of the perpetrator programmes will depend on the content of the programmes; they could include for example learnings on intersectionality and child victims as well.

Perpetrators of violence against women or domestic violenceviolence against women or domestic violence

The programmes will clearly impact perpetrators most directly, as they will be the attendees at the programmes and will therefore be less likely to engage in violence against women or domestic violence again. The presence of certain measures in the programmes, such as encouraging perpetrators to take responsibility for their actions, examine their attitudes and beliefs towards women and incorporating a gendered understanding of violence against women, will increase the effectiveness of the programmes. However, the measure will only address those sentenced for perpetrating gender-based violence and domestic violence, and will not consider those in the population who are at risk of offending.

Wider society

The existence and publicization of the programmes could raise awareness among the general population about the severity of gender based violence and violence against women, as well as the importance of reducing re-occurrence of violence.

National authorities

All but one country (HU) reported having set up support programmes for perpetrators of VAW/DV. However, the compulsoriness and inclusion of gender varies across Member States.

Programmes are mandatory for perpetrators in seven Member States (BE, CZ, ES, LV, PL, PT, FR for those in prison, and HR as part of probation service), and voluntary in ten Member States (DK, EE, FI, IE, IT, LU, NL, RO, SE, SI). Gender is included and considered in the present programmes in most Member States (AT, BE, BG, CY, DE, DK, EE, FR, IE, IT, LU, NL, RO, SE, SI), and not included in three (CZ, LV, PT). Therefore, the scale of impact will be largest in those with voluntary rather than mandatory programmes, and those which do not include gender as a consideration.

Fundamental rights

The measure is expected to enhance in particular the following fundamental rights.

Victims of violence against women or domestic violenceviolence against women or domestic violence:

-Right to life (Article 2)

-Right to the integrity of the person (Article 3)

-Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 4)

-Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial (Article 47)

Victims of sex-based harassment

-Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial (Article 47)

Perpetrators of violence against women or domestic violenceviolence against women or domestic violence:

-Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial (Article 47)

Environmental impacts

No impacts expected.

Efficiency: comparison of benefits and costs

Administrative and compliance costs

The costs of the measures are expected to be borne by the EC, Member State authorities and support of other organisations (if running intervention and treatment programmes). More specifically:

Possibly, the EC may co-fund intervention and treatment programmes, but the costs presented relate to public authorities.

Public authorities will incur costs for running treatment and intervention programmes for perpetrators of violence against women or domestic violenceviolence against women or domestic violence that are shown below.

Max Total EU cost (Millions of euros)

Perpetrator intervention and treatment (running cost per annum)

0.7

Costs are based on the estimated costs of providing 6 sessions of 1 hour health and social worker support per perpetrator of violence against women or domestic violenceviolence against women or domestic violence. The total costs are based on the total number of convicted persons under sexual offences (including sexual assault and rape) and the hourly national wages of health and social workers. The costs assume that no Member State currently provides sufficient perpetrator intervention and treatment programmes. Therefore, countries that have a programme in place in the baseline need reach provide support to 50% more perpetrators and countries that do not have a programme in place need to provide support to all perpetrators. For countries with no data on baseline, it is assumed no programmes in place. Furthermore, costs are not estimated for five MS (BE, CY, EL, IE, IT) due to lack of data on number of convictions and hence, total costs might be higher.

Overall assessment

Overall, introducing perpetrator intervention and treatment programmes for those sentenced for perpetrating violence against women or domestic violenceviolence against women and domestic violence in a single legislative instrument specifically aimed at violence against women and domestic violence is expected to strengthen the implementation of relevant measures and improve their quality in many Member States, in particular in those which have not ratified the IC and those in which current measures are found to be lacking or insufficient in scale or scope.

The measure will contribute to meeting three policy objectives by bringing positive changes by reducing the likelihood that perpetrators will re-offend. It will bring benefits to victims and wider society, and will also help perpetrators to change their behaviour. However, a limitation of the measure is its focus on those sentenced for perpetrating gender-based violence and domestic violence, and it does not consider those in the population who are at risk of offending.

The total maximum investment required amount to 0.7 Million Euros.

The measure is likely to find political acceptance, as Member States overall already have similar activities in place, although some may have to significantly scale them up. Notably, this measure leaves flexibility to MS as to programme availability and format, which on one hand will improve political acceptance, yet on the other hand may limit the effectiveness if programmes are not widely available in all Member States.

violence against women and domestic violenceviolence against women and domestic violenceviolence against women and domestic violenceviolence against women and domestic violenceviolence against women and domestic violenceviolence against women and domestic violence

1.2.Problem area: protection from violence against women and domestic violence

1.2.1.Assessment of measure 2.1.a - protection orders, emergency barring orders

§Obligation for MS of protection orders (emergency barring orders, restraining or protection orders at national level of violence against women or domestic violenceviolence against women or domestic violence in all cases.

§Art. 4(1)(c) VRD: information on available protection measures upon first contact with the authorities.

Assessment criterion

Score

Assessment

Effectiveness: contributing to achieving the policy objectives

Ensuring effective measures for preventing gender-based violence against women and domestic violence (in line with Chapter III of the Istanbul Convention)

No impact on this objective

Ensuring that victims and potential victims of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence are effectively protected from (further) violence

Protection order and emergency protection/barring orders are a crucial method to ensure victims of violence against women or domestic violence are effectively protected from further violence. The availability in law of protection orders is high and therefore the measure is unlikely to have a significant impact. Mid and long-term protection orders are available in all Member States. Emergency protection orders, according to the 'Austrian model', are available in 18 states (AT, BE, BC, CZ, DE, DK, FI, HR, HU, IE, IT, LV, LU, NL, PO, RO, SI, SK). In all other Member States (CY, LT, EL, FR, EE, PT, ES), the laws suggest that protection orders could be applicable in emergency situations, yet there are many difficulties in accessing protection in practice.

The obligation to have protection orders available 'in all cases' could have more impact in France and Portugal as protection orders are only available for victims of domestic violence, rather than all types of violence.

Information about protection orders is important as victims may not be aware of the possibility of this measure, which can negatively impact uptake which is overall low. As the measure is the same as the baseline, little impact is expected. Detailed mapping is not available about if information is available for victims about available protection measures upon first contract with authorities (rather than later in the process). However, it is noted that information is not always available in suitable languages which may create particular challenges for migrant women and in cross-border cases.

The measure however does not address some of the core challenges in accessing emergency protection orders such as lengthy proceedings which delay access at a critical time (for example in Malta, Spain and Sweden). Similarly, enforcement can be lacking, particularly because of insufficient sanctions for breaching protection orders. A lack of minimum standards and conditions also hinders mutual recognition of protection orders in cross-border cases.

Ensuring the effective access to justice for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

Protection orders will help victims feel protected against the perpetrator which may make them more willing to press charges, especially as fear of reprisal attack and further violence may be higher if such a step is taken. This measure may therefore increase victims’ access to justice.

Ensuring the effective availability of support for victims of all forms of gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective

Ensuring that gender based harassment of women at work is effectively addressed    

No impact on this objective

Ensuring more effective governance structures in relation to gender-based violence against women and domestic violence

No impact on this objective

Effectiveness – other impacts

Social impacts

If implemented, this measure is expected to have a limited extent of social impacts on the following groups.

Victims of violence against women or domestic violence

Protection or