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Brussels, 27 November 2008
What is the Directive on equal treatment for men and women in employment?
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 employment, prohibiting any discrimination on the basis of sex, either directly or indirectly by reference, in particular, to marital status.
The Directive introduces detailed definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment. It requires Member States to create a body to promote, analyse, monitor and support equal treatment without discrimination on the grounds of sex and to encourage dialogue with non-governmental organisations.
When did the legislation have to be transposed into national law?
The Directive was adopted, unanimously, by the Member States in 2002.
It had to be transposed into national law by 5 October 2005 and by 1 January 2007 for Romania & Bulgaria.
Which Member States have transposed the Directive into national law and which ones have done so properly?
All the Member States have now transposed the Directive into national law.
The Commission, as "Guardian of the Treaties", is studying the national legislation of all the Member States in detail to see if it correctly reflects the requirements of the Directive. If it does not, the Commission launches infringement procedures against the Member State/s concerned.
What kind of problems has the Commission identified?
Main problem areas in the reasoned opinion to Italy:
Main problem areas in the reasoned opinion to Lithuania:
Main problem areas in the reasoned opinion to Hungary:
Main problem areas in the reasoned opinion to Malta:
Main problem areas in the reasoned opinion to Austria:
Main problem areas in the reasoned opinion to Slovenia:
If the Commission is sending reasoned opinions to six countries, does that mean that the other Member States have done everything correctly?
Not necessarily. Although the Commission is at the reasoned opinion stage with those six Member States, it is still examining the legislation of the other Member States, while other infringement procedures are at a more advanced stage.
How do infringement procedures work?
First, the Commission sends what is called a "letter of formal notice" explaining in general why it thinks the Member State has incorrectly implemented the Directive into its national law.
The Member State then has two months to reply. If it does not reply, or if the Commission is not convinced by the reply, the Commission can go to the next step of the infringement procedure by sending a "reasoned opinion". This sets out in much more detail the legal arguments. Again, the Member State has two months to reply.
If the Commission still thinks the Member State has incorrectly transposed the Directive, it can at this point refer the case to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
At each stage, a formal decision must be taken by the Commission.
See also IP/08/1821