Brussels, 29 October 2009
Employment equality rules: case closed for Estonia; reasoned opinions to Germany and Italy
The European Commission has today sent reasoned opinions to Germany and Italy for incorrectly implementing EU rules prohibiting discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in employment and occupation (Directive 2000/78/EC, see also ). It has also decided to close infringement proceedings concerning the same Directive against Estonia after it successfully brought national legislation into line with EU requirements.
"I am pleased that we have been able to close an infringement case concerning Estonia today. Our legal action has led to better protection against discrimination in workplaces across the EU," said Equal Opportunities Commissioner Vladimír Špidla. "I am also confident that through constructive dialogue with national authorities, we will be able to achieve full compliance with the Directive in Germany and Italy as well," he added.
In the reasoned opinion sent to Germany, the Commission pointed out that:
In the reasoned opinion concerning Italy, the Commission argued that:
The Commission has also decided to close the infringement proceeding concerning Estonia. Following the Commission's intervention, Estonia adopted a new Equal Treatment Act in December 2008, which brings national law in line with the Directive.
Anti-discrimination (in areas outside gender and nationality discrimination) is a relatively new area of policy for the EU. The European Community acquired new powers in 1999, with the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, to combat discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, religion and belief, disability, age and sexual orientation (new Article 13 of the EC Treaty). This led to the unanimous adoption by the Member States of two Directives in 2000:
The deadlines for transposition of these two Directives into national law by the Member States were 19 July and 2 December 2003 respectively. For the 10 countries which joined the EU in 2004, the deadline was 1 May 2004. For Bulgaria and Romania it was 1 January 2007.
EU anti-discrimination legislation
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