Eu in brief

Reding: more women in decision-making positions “If Europe is serious about getting out of the crisis and becoming a competitive economy through smart and inclusive growth then we have to make better use of women’s talents and skills; getting women into work will help us get out of the crisis”. Gender equality is one of the strongholds of the Europe 2020 Strategy addressed by the European Council of March 25-26. Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship and Vice-President of the European Commission maintains that it is necessary to develop a specific “gender equality” strategy to be adopted in the forthcoming months. During an informal meeting of Equal Opportunities ministers held March 25-26 in Valencia Reding presented a Report which shows that only one in 10 board members of Europe’s biggest listed companies is a woman and all central bank governors in the EU are male. “The economy would benefit by having full representation of both men and women in top positions: several studies have now shown that gender diversity pays off and that there is a positive correlation between the share of women in senior positions and company performance”. For example, a study conducted in Finland found that “firms with a gender-balanced board are on average 10% more profitable than those with an all-male board.” Commissioner Reding calls on “companies and governments to work hard to make sure gender balance in senior positions becomes a reality. I also encourage talented women to take on the challenge of board membership and to apply as candidates for top jobs”. Moreover, with the presentation of a “Women’s Charter” on 5 March, the Commission reaffirmed its commitment to stronger gender equality in all EU policies”.Sport valued the most in Ireland and the Nordic countries In the EU men with good education and from Nordic countries play more sport, as shown in a survey presented March 29 by Eurobarometer and by the Commission that will be presented at the European Sport Forum (19 April) and at the Informal meeting of EU Sports Ministers (20-21 April) in Madrid. According to the findings of the survey, 40% of EU citizens play sport at least once a week and 65% engage in some form of physical exercise”. But 25% “are almost completely inactive”. “Ireland and the Nordic countries take sport most seriously, with 23% of Irish citizens practising sport 5 times a week or more, while Sweden, Finland and Denmark score the highest ratings for exercising ‘regularly’ or ‘with some regularity’ (once a week or more)”. At the other end of the scale, only 3% of citizens in Bulgaria, Greece and Italy say they play sport regularly”. “Sport gives you more energy and helps people to live more active lives. In an ageing society, it is important to help citizens to remain healthy longer”, said Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for sport. The Eurobarometer survey shows that “Men in the EU play more sport and also exercise more than women”. The survey also finds a correlation between socio-economic status and physical activity. 64% of people who left school by the age of 15 say they never play sport, while this rate falls to 24% for those who left education after 20″. On the basis of these elements Vassiliou intends to propose an initiative aimed at encouraging more Europeans to make sport and physical activity part of their daily lives. The new Sport Programme will support projects and supplement policies in the Member States”. The survey also found that EU citizens have different preferences when it comes to where they exercise. “83% of Slovenians prefer outdoors, followed by 76% in Finland and 67% in Estonia. Outdoor exercise is favoured by only 27% of respondents in Greece, 28% in Malta and 29% in Romania”. Fitness centres are the most popular venue for Swedes (31%) and Cypriots (22%), while only 2% of French and Hungarian respondents like them”. The Survey shows also that European citizens feel that their local authorities do enough to provide them with opportunities for physical exercise.

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