The gender wage gap in the EU’s 27 member countries narrowed slightly in recent years, dropping to 14.1% in 2018, according to provisional figures from Eurostat quoted by the European Commission on Friday.
“At the current rate, it would take decades, even centuries, to achieve equality,” Commissioners Vera Jourová, Nicolas Schmit and Helena Dalli said in a joint statement. “This is not acceptable,” they stressed.
Eurostat found that in 2018, women’s gross hourly wages were 14.1% less than men’s in workplaces with at least 10 employees. In 2017, the pay gap had been 14.5%.
According to the Eurostat figures, the gender pay gap was 15% in the Eurozone in 2018, down from 15.5% in 2017.
Belgium has one of Europe’s lowest gender pay gaps: 5.8% in 2018. At the other end of the spectrum, Estonia’s women earned 21.8% less per hour than their male counterparts in the same year.
A few days ago, female politicians from the European Socialist Party estimated that women in the European Union, including the United Kingdom, earned 16% less than men. An essential factor in the persistence of the gap is the inequitable distribution of the unremunerated workload, such as housework, childcare and taking care of the elderly, the ESP women pointed out.
They also quoted a study by the European Confederation of Trade Unions which argues that the gender way gape is shrinking so slowly that, at this rate, it would not be closed before the year 2104.
The gap would only be eliminated in this decade in three countries, Belgium (2028), Luxemburg (2027) and Romania (2022), which shows the huge disparity between States, the Confederation argued. However, in at least one of the three, male and female salaries are unacceptably low, it added.
In its Friday statement, the Commission recalled that it planned to propose binding measures on wage transparency in the next few weeks. This was promised by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, but had been expected earlier, according to the Confederation. It should contribute specifically to the struggle for equal salaries, the unions stressed.