09 Mar 2017  

“Because once the spirit of equality has taken root in a society, it can never be removed unless it withers away”

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner for Competition, at the 7th Brussels Wednesday Social on 8th March 2017

On the International Women’s Day, Commissioner Vestager discussed with our guests how to advance Europe’s society towards more fairness and equal opportunities -not only for women, but also for disadvantaged groups- by defending the rule of law and making sure that the rules of fair competition are respected by all.

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The 9th Brussels Wednesday Social hosted by METRO AG in cooperation with European Movement International (EMI) and EuroCommerce was attended by somewhat 170 guests from politics, business and civil society.

Ms Vestager argued in her speech that, despite the progress already achieved in gender equality in Europe by previous generations during the last 100 years, there is still a long way to go. Indeed, fairness and equality are fundamental values for Europeans and we believe that everyone deserves a fair chance. However, we must keep fighting to make our societies fairer and the lives of our citizens better: “Women knew that every victory made a real difference to women’s lives. And they had faith that future generations would carry on their work (…) Our responsibility is to make sure that we don’t break the chain”, said Ms Vestager.

Yet, rules and new regulations are not enough to change minds. To achieve an egalitarian European society, we need to look at the way inequality is present or even built in everything we do. However, Ms Vestager is optimistic and emphasized how important the rule of law and fair chances are for European citizens. Something that she sees every day in her work, when dealing, for example, with unfair cases of competition: “Europeans don’t believe that some companies should get away without paying their share of taxes (…) why some should get favours that aren’t available to everyone”, stated Commissioner Vestager.

The discussion with the audience looked not only into gender inequality, but also into the widening gap between rich and poor and social exclusion. Inequalities and unfair competition within the internal single market and the effects of digitalisation on competition policy were also topics of concern for our guests. At the end, there was still time for questions on the future of Europe and on current challenges such as nationalism and populism.

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Eva Maydell, Member of the European Parliament and Vice President of the European Movement International, emphasized in her closing remarks the problems that many women are still facing in our societies today and the need to keep working on reducing inequalities and delivering results to our citizens.

The evening concluded with lively conversations between our guests over the culinary delights offered by METRO Cash & Carry Belgium.


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