EC issues reasoned opinions to 11 Member States on Employment Equality Directive (2000/78/EC)

On 31 January 2008 the Commission sent reasoned opinions to the 11 Member States which have failed to fully implement the Employment Equality Directive. This is the second of three steps in the infringement procedure to which the Member States concerned have two months to reply. If there is no satisfactory response, the Commission can refer the matter to the European Court of Justice and request that the Court imposes a fine on the country which does not comply. The countries concerned are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Finland and Sweden.

The main problem areas include limitations in national legislation in terms of the people and areas it covers as compared to the provisions in the Directive, definitions of discrimination which diverge from those in the Directive, lack of proper implementation of the obligation on employers to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled workers, inconsistencies in the provisions designed to assist victims of discrimination such as the shift of the burden of proof, the rights of associations to assist individuals with their cases, and protection against victimisation.

The Commission also sent a letter of formal notice to Germany as the first step in the infringement procedure to which Germany has two months to respond. The Commission’s concerns include the failure of German national legislation to cover redundancies, insufficient protection for workers with disabilities, and the tightness of the deadline of two months to file a complaint. The Commission also sent two complementary letters of formal notice to Latvia and Lithuania about their transposition of the Employment Equality Directive concerning, in particular, a too restrictive definition of discrimination (Latvia) and a too large exemption of age discrimination (both Latvia and Lithuania).

AGE submitted its report on the transposition and implementation of the Employment Equality Directive to the Commission in autumn 2007 in which its members’ perceptions of the adequacy of the implementation of the Directive in their respective Member States are addressed. It also considers how the combating of age discrimination in employment can be made more effective by learning from experiences in other Member States.

AGE trusts that its analysis of the main trends, problems and positive elements which its members identified will be taken into account by the Commission in the preparation of its report on the implementation of the Employment Equality Directive in the EU which is due to be published in the first half of 2008.

For further information please contact Rachel Buchanan, Policy Officer for non-discrimination at

Useful documents:

AGE report on the Employment Equality Directive

Implementation of anti-discrimination directives into national law

EC Memo on Employment Equality Directive (MEMO/08/68MEMO/08/69)

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