Richard North, 08/01/2005  

When is gender inequality made compulsory under the title "gender equality"? Silly question really. The answer is so obvious – when it’s implemented by an EU directive.

Last week, while our attention was largely elsewhere, the EU Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Council agreed a directive "implementing the principle of equal treatment between women and men in the access to and supply of goods and services".

This has achieved brief notoriety as the directive which would have prevented companies from selling cheaper car insurance policies to women drivers, purely based on gender.

The final resolution, however, removed this absurdity – in part - and was widely hailed, not least by the BBC which reported: "Women escape car insurance hike".

This led the deputy minister for women and equality, Jacqui Smith (can there really be such a creature?) to crow that: "The rights we've enjoyed in the UK for nearly 30 years will now be enshrined in this directive for the benefit of all Europeans… This achievement shows how Europe can develop solutions that are good for us all. "It's good news on insurance, but this directive covers much more than that."

And there is indeed much more than that in the directive. But behind this gut-wrenching propaganda from Mz. Smith is the small print which requires all member states to ensure that insurance costs related to pregnancy and maternity are attributed equally to both men and women. This, says the EU commission, "will lead to a much fairer distribution within society of the costs of pregnancy and parenthood."

So, in the interests of "gender equality" unattached males (and, indeed, females) must contribute in their insurance premiums to the costs incurred by insurance companies in paying out on policies to women arising from pregnancy and parenthood – while women continue to pay cheaper car insurance.

Only in the mad world of the EU could anyone even begin to believe this was anything other than stark insanity.

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