Brussels, 27 November 2008
The Commission has today sent reasoned opinions to six countries to fully implement EU rules prohibiting discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of sex (2002/73/EC). Austria, Lithuania, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy and Malta have two months to respond. If they fail to reply or if the response is unsatisfactory, the Commission can decide to take them to the European Court of Justice (ECJ)(see also MEMO/08/742)
Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Equal Opportunities, said: "This Directive is crucial to tackling gender discrimination, an important goal of the European Union. It was agreed unanimously by the Member States and adopted in 2002, but EU directives cannot reach their full potential if they are not fully and correctly transposed into national laws."
Today, six Member States that have not implemented the Directive correctly received 'reasoned opinions'. This is the second step of the infringement procedure. The main problems include definitions of direct and indirect discrimination; rights of women on maternity leave; and the functioning of equality bodies.
At the start of this year the Commission sent letters of formal notice to 22 Member States (Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia and the United Kingdom). The procedures against Cyprus and Greece have already been filed.
After analysing the Member States' responses, the Commission found that Austria, Lithuania, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy and Malta have not implemented the Directive correctly. Similar reasoned opinions were sent to Finland and Estonia in June 2008. The analysis is still ongoing for other Member States.
The Commission will produce a report on the implementation of the Directive next year, as required by the legislation.
Infringement procedures consist of three steps. The first step is that the Member State receives a letter of formal notice and has two months to respond. In case further compliance with EU legislation is needed, the Commission sends a reasoned opinion. Again the Member State has two months to reply. If there is no satisfactory reply, the Commission can refer the matter to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It can also request that the Court impose a fine on the country concerned if it does not comply with the Court's ruling.