March 2, 2020 / 5:28 PM / a month ago

Gender employment gap costs EU 360 billion euros a year: agency

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The gap between female and male employment costs the European Union 360 billion euros ($399 billion) of losses a year, or some 2 percent of its total economy, a new study said on Monday.

Italy, Malta and Greece had the worst readings with about a 20% gap in 2018, when the data was analysed, while Lithuania, Sweden and Finland were the best, all below 5%.

Overall, the average figure for the bloc - including Britain prior to its departure - came in at 15% and fell from 480 billion euros in 2008, according to the EU’s Eurofund agency, which tracks trends to inform policy-making.

The cost is an estimate of foregone earnings, missed welfare contributions and public finance costs related to lower female employment, Eurofund said.

The bloc’s executive European Commission will present on Thursday a new gender equality strategy for the 27 member countries, including policies to counter sex-based discrimination and improve women’s access to the labour market.

It is expected to move for the first time towards introducing a legal obligation to report on the gender pay gap across the bloc, which currently amounts to some 16%, according to an EU official working on the plan.

“Where there are legally binding measures, the situation improves,” the official told Reuters.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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