Brussels, 4 May 2010
Equality: European Commission closes two cases against Czech Republic on equality legislation
The European Commission has today closed legal proceedings against the Czech Republic on two directives prohibiting discrimination (Directive 2000/43/EC – the Race Equality Directive and Directive 2000/78/EC – the Employment Equality Directive). The cases were successfully concluded after the Czech Republic changed its national law to bring it in line with EU requirements, following the Commission's legal action.
The Commission began infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic on the Race Equality Directive in June 2007 (see also IP/07/928) because:
different forms of discrimination were not adequately defined in Czech legislation;
several fields covered by the Directive were not at all or not sufficiently covered by antidiscrimination rules;
the rule regarding burden of proof in discrimination cases did not apply in some areas covered by the Directive;
protection against victimisation covered only employees (rather than everyone exercising their rights under the Directive);
there was no national body responsible for promotion and protection of equality.
The main points of the infringement case for the Employment Equality Directive (see also (IP/08/155) were:
there were no definitions in national legislation of the various types of discrimination;
the material scope of the discrimination ban was limited compared with the Directives;
there was no ban on discrimination on grounds of disability, but on grounds of state of health, which does not necessarily cover all disabled workers;
rules on recruitment of customs officials included discriminatory conditions related to sexual orientation;
The Czech Republic has amended its legislation on all those points, notably by adopting a comprehensive Anti-discrimination Act. As a result, the Commission now considers that Czech Republic has properly transposed the Directives.
Anti-discrimination (in areas outside gender and nationality discrimination) is a relatively new area of EU policy. Following the Amsterdam Treaty in 1999, the EU acquired new powers to combat discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, religion and belief, disability, age and sexual orientation (former Article 13 TEC, now Article 10 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). This led to the unanimous adoption by Member States of two Directives in 2000:
Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (Race Equality Directive). This Directive covers direct and indirect discrimination, as well as harassment, in the fields of employment, vocational training, education, social protection (including social security and health care), social advantages and access to goods and services (including housing).
Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment, occupation and vocational training (Employment Equality Directive). This Directive covers direct and indirect discrimination, as well as harassment, in employment and training on the grounds of religion or belief, age, disability and sexual orientation. It includes specific requirements on reasonable accommodation for disabled persons.
The deadlines for Member States to transpose these two directives were 19 July and 2 December 2003, respectively. For the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004, the deadline was 1 May 2004. For Bulgaria and Romania, it was 1 January 2007.
EU anti-discrimination legislation
Subscribe to the Commission's free e-mail newsletter on employment, social affairs and equal opportunities