As 25 November marked the international day for the elimination of violence against women, members of parliament's women's rights and gender equality committee urged member states to adopt tougher and more harmonised legislation against gender-based violence.
Iratxe García Pérez, chair of the committee, lamented that "seven women a day are murdered in Europe as a result of violence". According to her, this is the consequence of sustaining an "unfair society that has allowed one part of society to believe they own another part of society".
The Spanish MEP pointed out that "the citizenry at large cannot understand that we can reach an agreement to save banks but we can't reach an agreement to save lives".
She called for the drafting of a directive on gender-based violence and "an integrated policy" dealing with "prevention, treatment, police measures and legal and economic measures".
Furthermore, García Pérez "would like 2016 to be declared the European year against gender violence".
"The citizenry at large cannot understand that we can reach an agreement to save banks but we can't reach an agreement to save lives" - Iratxe García Pérez
As discussions regarding the 2015 EU budget are still underway, she added, "I would demand that the EU budget on this should not be cut back in any way", reminding her fellow committee members that "cuts in policies against gender violence means cuts in lives".
Vĕra Jourová, commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, underlined that "violence against women affects society as a whole and it is costly - the direct cost of violence against women is €69bn per year", explaining that it would also therefore make economic sense for the EU to tackle the issue.
She announced that the commission is currently working on a "strategy for equality between men and women with a chapter against gender-based violence". Problems such as cyber violence and harassment will also be addressed in the strategy.
In addition, she stressed that "the strategy must include action to include men in combating gender-based violence".
The Czech official explained that "our action must be steady, coherent and based on several pillars - legislation, awareness raising, funding as well as improving funding and data collection". The way forward is "to more effectively use existing tools instead of creating new ones".
The commissioner also urged member states to "ratify the Istanbul convention as soon as possible". This convention was introduced by the Council of Europe in 2012 and so far has only been ratified by eight member states.
"Our action must be steady, coherent and based on several pillars - legislation, awareness raising, funding as well as improving funding and data collection" - Vĕra Jourová
Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio pointed out that "violence against women doesn't distinguish between rich and poor […], there are no barriers".
She called for a "safer and fairer Europe […] - we owe this to the women that have been killed, to their children and their families that are still mourning them".
She added that the perpetration of gender-based violence "is a problem of education and we must generate awareness among men - it is men who should fight against this appalling problem, more so than women".
Ernest Urtasun urged parliament to "denounce the fact that we don't have a specific legislative instrument at EU level".
Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, a vice-chair of parliament's ALDE group, said "Europe needs all of its member states to find legal and ethical common ground".
She complained that "there is a lack of unity against sexist violence - this is a product of inequality deeply rooted in the subconscious of many Europeans".
Catherine Bearder agreed with this point, saying "these issues cannot be seen in isolation bur rather in part of a larger problem - society's attitude towards women".
Iliana Iotova, a vice-chair of parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, called for "the kind of legislation that does not only protect the victims, but also prevents these crimes".
Hitting out at pan-European cultural problems and the lack of EU-wide legislation, Biljana Borzan stressed that "we need to put an end to the culture of silence where victims are ashamed - perpetrators need to be ashamed, as well as the commission".