The Commission has to go a stage further in the infringement proceedings against Belgium for allowing discrimination against women workers in the case of dismissal and has issued a reasoned opinion. This is the final stage before bringing an action before the Court of Justice. After examining of the legislation and agreements concerning the dismissal of elderly workers in Belgium, and after contacts with the Belgian authorities, the Commission of the European Communities has reached the conclusion that the Belgian system discriminates against women. The infringement procedure against Belgium is directed in particular at the possibility for employers to give women who have reached retirement age (60 years) a shorter period of notice than male colleagues, who still receive the normal period of notice up to the age of 65 years. The period of notice, which can be up to two years in the case of workers who have the maximum number of years of service, is reduced to six months in the case of workers of retirement age. In other words, the effect of these provisions is to allow an employer to dismiss a woman between the ages of 60 and 64 years after a much shorter period of notice than would apply in the case of men of the same age who have worked for the same number of years in the firm. Similarly, in the case of dismissal allowances, the Belgian scheme provides for payment by the employer of an additional allowance to elderly workers when they are dismissed. This additional allowance, however, is granted only to workers who are entitled to unemployment benefit, in other words women up to the age of 60 years, and men up to the age of 65 years, the normal age for a pension entitlement. Reference to entitlement to unemployment benefit introduces disguised discrimination by restricting the supplementary award to men. This is totally in breach of the principle of equality for men and women, the observance of which is guaranteed by Community law. -2- This basic principle is enshrined in the Treaty of Rome (Article 119 on equal pay) and in a 1976 Directive which puts the principle into practice at different stages of working life: access to employment, conditions of employment, dismissal, training and occupational advancement. This Directive, which should have been fully incorporated into Belgian law by August 1978, requires that any legislation, regulations and administrative provisions contrary to the principle of equal treatment should be dominated and declares null and void any provisions in collective agreements or employment contracts contravening it. The Commission has therefore decided to continue the infringement procedure in order to bring that the Belgian authorities to amend theseprovisions on dismissal, which are incompatible with Community law.