Brussels, 25 June 2009
Commission acts against Latvia on gender equality legislation
The Commission has today sent a reasoned opinion to Latvia on its implementation of EU rules prohibiting discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of sex (2002/73/EC). The Latvian authorities have two months to respond. If they fail to reply or if the response is unsatisfactory, the Commission may decide to take the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) (see also ).
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."
The main problem areas addressed in the reasoned opinion are failure to properly transpose the definition of indirect discrimination (new Article 2(2)); and failure to provide a sufficient level of protection against discrimination in the areas of self-employment, vocational training and benefits provided for by organisations of workers or employers (new Article 3(1)).
Directive 2002/73/EC is a central element in the broader body of European legislation on equal treatment between women and men. It aims to implement the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the field of employment and occupation. It introduces, in particular, detailed definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment. It also requires the creation of a body or bodies for the promotion, analysis, monitoring and support of equal treatment of all persons without discrimination on the grounds of sex and requires Members States to encourage dialogue with non-governmental organisations. The deadline for transposing the Directive into national law was 5 October 2005.
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 EC 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.
Information on the transposition of EU gender equality legislation into national law can be found at: