Brussels, 14 March 2011
Equality: Commission drops three cases against Poland following new anti-discrimination law
The European Commission has closed three separate infringement procedures against Poland covering different aspects of EU equality legislation. The Commission successfully concluded the cases after Poland adopted a new anti-discrimination law. Two of the cases had reached the Court of Justice, while the third had not yet reached the judicial stage.
EU equality legislation consists of a series of Directives. They ban discrimination on various grounds, including race and gender, in fields such as employment, education and access to goods and services. They also require member states to set up an organisation – such as an ombudsman or other body – to promote equal treatment and assist potential discrimination victims.
The cases withdrawn from the Court concerned Polish legislation’s non-conformity with EU rules prohibiting race and ethnic origin discrimination (see IP/10/531), and non-communication of national legislation transposing the EU rules on gender discrimination in the access to goods and services (see IP/09/785). The Commission also ended proceeding in a case of non-communication of national legislation transposing EU rules on gender equality in employment (see IP/10/319).
The Race Equality Directive (2000/43/EC) provides for protection against discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin in employment and training, education, social protection, membership of organisations and access to goods and services. In a case brought against Poland to the Court of Justice, the Commission pointed out that the Polish legislation covered the principle of anti-discrimination only in the field of employment. The prohibition of victimisation was also limited to the field of employment. The new Polish legislation satisfactorily solves those questions and the Commission withdrew the case from the Court.
The Goods and Services Directive (2004/113/EC) lays down a framework for combating discrimination based on sex in the access to and supply of goods and services. It applies to goods and services offered to the public, outside the area of private and family life. The Commission brought a case against Poland for non-communication of measures transposing that Directive into Polish law. Since the new Act fully transposes the Directive, the Commission considers that Poland has fulfilled its obligations and thus withdrew the case from the Court.
The recast Directive on Gender Equality in Employment (2006/54/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. The Commission issued a reasoned opinion – the second stage in the infringement process – against Poland for non-communication of all measures transposing that Directive into Polish law. Since the new Act fully transposes the Directive, the Commission thus closed the case.
EU anti-discrimination legislation
EU gender equality legislation
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
For more information about the infringement process, see MEMO/11/162