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Brussels, 24 November 2010

Gender Equality: Commission welcomes compliance with EU sex discrimination rules in Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia; closes infringement cases

The European Commission has welcomed the notification by Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia of measures to implement EU rules prohibiting discrimination in employment and occupation on the grounds of sex (Directive 2006/54/EC, see MEMO/08/742). The Commission is now satisfied that all four countries have taken adequate measures to implement the EU legislation, which aims to ensure equal treatment for women and men in the workplace. The Commission has therefore closed infringement proceedings against all four countries.

The Commission has closed the infringement cases against Germany (IP/09/1147), Latvia (IP/09/1033), Lithuania and Slovenia (IP/08/1821) on the following grounds:

Germany provided more information about how the EU law was put in place. Specifically, the German Federal Labour Court clarified the scope of the act transposing the EU Directive. As a result, the Commission found that employees are covered by German anti-discrimination legislation in cases of dismissals. Therefore, the Commission now considers that Germany has sufficiently implemented the Directive.

Latvia has recently modified its gender equality and anti-discrimination law to take account of the Commission's concerns. The Commission decided to drop the case after examining the amended legislation and considering explanations provided by the national authorities.

Lithuania has recently amended its Labour Code and Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. The Labour Code now explicitly ensures that a woman on maternity leave has the right to return to her job on conditions no less favourable to her, and benefit from any improvement in working conditions to which she would be entitled during her absence. The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men now provides for the right for the Ombudsman to carry out surveys, publish reports and make recommendations. After examining the amended legislation, the Commission is of the opinion that the Lithuanian Government has sufficiently implemented the EU Directive.

Slovenia has given further explanations on the rights in the law and practice of a woman on maternity leave. In the light of these explanations, the Commission determined that a woman in Slovenia is entitled to return to her job after maternity leave on conditions no less favourable to her and to benefit from any improvement in working conditions, which have taken place during her maternity leave.


Directive 2006/54/EC (recasting 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 Member States to encourage dialogue with non-governmental organisations. The deadline for implementing the Directive into national law was 5 October 2005.

Further information

EU gender equality legislation

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship:

For more information about EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/10/605

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