Tag Archives: Equal treatment

The EU Role in Global Health

The EU Role in Global Health

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The EU Role in Global Health

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > Sectoral development policies

The EU Role in Global Health

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – The EU Role in Global Health [COM(2010) 128 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents principles to improve action undertaken by the European Union (EU) as regards protecting world health.

Health protection in non-Member States of the EU aims mainly at preventing health risks and reducing inequality of access to care. In addition, action in this area must take into account a number of social, economic and environmental factors.

Improving global governance

The Commission recommends better coordination of the different action undertaken by States or groups of States, at:

  • global level, in order to defend a single position within the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN);
  • regional level, to develop exchange and networks between neighbouring States;
  • national level, to support public policies and the control of public funding, as well as interaction with other areas (such as education, youth empowerment, the family, etc.).

Developing universal health coverage

Universal coverage of health services should be established in the poorest countries. In this regard, the EU should increase its public development aid (PDA), but also reinforce its effectiveness and predictability. The Commission also recommends:

  • concentrating aid to serve the most fragile populations and countries;
  • strengthening the effectiveness and equity of health systems, as well as their functioning in terms of workforce, access to medicines, infrastructure, logistics and decentralised management;
  • having recourse to global initiatives and existing international financial institutions, but also to innovative funding.

Increasing policy coherence

Key issues in health policy should be taken into account in other areas, such as:

  • trade, in particular with regard to intellectual property rights, access to essential medicines, opening up generic medicine competition and combating counterfeiting;
  • managing migration, which should not undermine the availability of health professionals in developing countries;
  • defence and security, in order to better address fragile contexts and to provide an early response to international health risks;
  • food safety, food aid and nutrition, through public policies and the monitoring of nutritional status in the population;
  • climate change – the objective of health protection should be taken into account when allocating new funding.

Particular attention should also be paid to the fields of education and youth.

Research and innovation

Access to health services, medical technologies and medicines should benefit all. Research and innovation strategies should therefore be directed towards:

  • strengthening the research process overall – innovation, implementation, access, monitoring and evaluation;
  • collecting comparable data and statistics at global level, by collaborating with national and international organisations working on world health (WHO, OECD, etc.);
  • improving the dissemination of factual information, including risks, and the safety of food, feed, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Optimising skills

The EU must put in place mechanisms to optimise:

  • European action in EU countries and external countries, particularly within a platform to exchange information and through the development of common positions between EU countries and the Commission;
  • monitoring of European aid and implementation of the EU Code of Conduct on Division of Labour in the area of health;
  • dialogue between the key global players, in partnership with UN agencies and international financial institutions.

Context

The adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 has led to progress being made with regard to reducing global poverty. However, progress in developing countries is still uneven and often insufficient.

The international community has therefore enhanced its efforts regarding the three MDGs relating to health (reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating disease – in particular HIV/AIDS and malaria).

Free movement of workers: taking stock of their rights

Free movement of workers: taking stock of their rights

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Free movement of workers: taking stock of their rights

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Living and working in the internal market

Free movement of workers: taking stock of their rights

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 13 July 2010 – Reaffirming the free movement of workers: rights and major developments [COM(2010) 373 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Since the establishment of the principle of the free movement of persons in the European Union (EU), many obstacles to mobility have been abolished. The Commission therefore presents the main legal developments which have improved the rights of European migrant workers. In addition, the promotion of mobility is an objective of the new Europe 2020 Strategy.

Free movement of workers

The principle of the free movement of persons applies to all European citizens whose period of residence does not exceed three months. After that period, the exercise of the freedom of movement is subject to certain conditions. However, migrant workers enjoy better conditions than non-active citizens.

The principle of free movement of workers entitles all European citizens to work in another EU country (Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU)). Certain countries may impose registration formalities on workers after a period of three months, but no other residence condition.

Self-employed workers (Article 49 of the TFEU) and posted workers in the context of the provision of services are subject to other provisions.

Migrant workers are those who have:

  • an income, including a limited income or benefits in kind. Only voluntary work is excluded from the definition;
  • a relationship of subordination, which characterises gainful employment (i.e. the employer determines the choice of activity, remuneration, working conditions, etc.);
  • genuine and effective work, because the activity must not be marginal or accessory. However, part-time work, traineeships and certain forms of training are recognised;
  • a cross-border link, i.e. the worker must reside or work in an EU country other than his or her country of origin.

Other categories of citizen may benefit from the freedom of movement of workers if their period of residence exceeds three months:

  • members of the migrant worker’s family, irrespective of their nationality. They have access to the social advantages of the host country;
  • people retaining the status of worker, even if they are no longer employed in the host country (in the case of temporary inability to work, involuntary unemployment, etc.);
  • jobseekers, if they can prove that they are actively seeking employment.

Access to employment

Migrant workers must be able to pursue their professional activities under the same conditions as national workers. They may not be discriminated against with regard to:

  • the exercise of a regulated profession, because they can apply for recognition of their professional qualifications or training;
  • language requirements, which must only be reasonable and necessary for the job in question;
  • access to the public sector, except for certain types of job which require participation in the exercise of powers conferred by public law;
  • the free movement of professional and semi-professional sportsmen.

Jobseekers have access to public employment services and financial benefits intended to facilitate access to employment in the labour market of the host Member State.

Equal treatment of workers

Any discrimination with regard to employment, remuneration and working conditions is prohibited.

Migrant workers are treated in the same way as national workers:

  • they are subject to the laws and collective agreements of the host State;
  • they enjoy the same social advantages linked to their status as residents or workers, from the first day of their employment;
  • they may not be discriminated against in the area of tax on the basis of their nationality or their status as migrant workers.

Achieving the full benefits and potential of free movement of workers

Achieving the full benefits and potential of free movement of workers

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Achieving the full benefits and potential of free movement of workers

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Living and working in the internal market

Achieving the full benefits and potential of free movement of workers

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 11 December 2002 – Free movement of workers: achieving the full benefits and potential [COM(2002) 694 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Citizens who exercise their right to free movement of workers * within the European Union, which is a fundamental freedom under Community law, are contributing to the creation of a genuine European labour market.

However, practical, administrative and legal obstacles remain, preventing workers from taking full advantage of the benefits and potential of geographical mobility.

In this Communication, the Commission outlines the current state of Community law on the free movement of workers, with a view to clarifying its complex, technical legislative framework and the considerable case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in this area. It identifies a number of recurring difficulties in four distinct but interrelated areas.

Free movement of workers

Any national of a Member State has the right to work in another Member State.

Community law on free movement of workers applies whenever a national of an EU Member State exercises his right to mobility, even if he has returned to his Member State of origin after exercising his right to free movement of workers.

The family members * of an EU citizen who is a migrant worker, irrespective of their nationality – i.e. including third country nationals – are entitled to reside with him. In addition, children of migrant workers are entitled to access to education in the host Member State, irrespective of their nationality.

The right of residence is an integral part of free movement of workers. Under current Community law, Member States must issue a residence permit to a migrant worker on the basis of his identity card or passport and proof of employment alone. Under no circumstances may an EU citizen’s access to employment be made conditional upon obtaining a residence permit.

It follows from the Community principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of nationality that migrant workers must be treated in the same way as national workers with regard to access to employment, conditions of employment and work and social and fiscal advantages.

On occasion, access to employment may be conditional upon linguistic requirements, provided they are reasonable and justified. Moreover, while a very good command of a particular language may be justifiable for certain jobs, a requirement for that language to be the worker’s mother tongue is not acceptable.

Under the system of mutual recognition of qualifications, a Community citizen who is fully qualified in one Member State is entitled to exercise a regulated profession * in another Member State. Depending on the activity in question and the training completed, recognition will be either automatic or preceded by a period of adaptation or an aptitude test.

Social security

To facilitate the exercise of the right to free movement, migrant Community nationals must not suffer disadvantages in their social security rights.

Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 establishes a system for coordinating social security systems. It lays down common rules aimed at ensuring that the various national social security systems are not applied in such a way that they discriminate against persons who are exercising their right to free movement. Community law has never sought to harmonise the field of social security, and the Member States have therefore retained their competences with regard to the organisation of their respective social security systems.

As a general rule, social security benefits are paid regardless of the beneficiary’s Member State of residence. Special non-contributory benefits represent an exception to this rule. These benefits are paid only in the Member States in which such benefits are provided. As a result, they cannot be exported, but a migrant EU citizen is entitled to the benefits provided by the host Member State. To satisfy the conditions for non-exportability, a benefit must be special and non-contributory. The ECJ has ruled that a benefit is special when it is closely linked to the social environment of the Member State in question (benefits related to the prevention of poverty or to care for the disabled).

Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 also lays down the conditions for access to health care for people moving within the European Union. Depending on personal status and/or type of stay, EU citizens are entitled to immediately necessary care, to care which becomes necessary, or to all sickness benefits in kind in a Member State other than the one in which they are insured against sickness as if they were insured there, but at the expense of the institution of insurance. For persons wishing to go to another Member State specifically to obtain treatment, the costs of such treatment will, under the co-ordination system set up by Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71, only be covered by the Member State in which they are insured if they received prior authorisation. However, the Court has held that, in the light of other fundamental freedoms, such as the free movement of goods and the freedom to provide services, such prior authorisation, if not justified, could be regarded as an infringement of these fundamental freedoms. It follows that, under certain conditions, patients may apply for reimbursement of medical costs incurred in connection with health care received in another Member State, even in the absence of prior authorisation.

Finally, determination of the Member State whose social security legislation is applicable is based on two basic principles: a person is subject to the legislation of only one Member State at a time and is normally covered by the legislation of the Member State where he or she engages in occupational activity.

The complex nature of Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 does, however, make it difficult to apply. For this reason, it is currently being revised.

Frontier workers

As they divide their time between two Member States, frontier workers * are often faced with practical problems related not only to social security and social advantages but also to income taxation and retirement. In principle, frontier workers enjoy all the benefits available to migrant workers in the Member State of employment, but some Member States impose residence conditions for entitlement to social advantages. Frontier workers are entitled to unemployment benefit in the Member State of residence rather than the Member State of employment. They may choose the Member State in which to obtain health care, but when they retire, this choice between Member State of employment and Member State of residence disappears.

Context

The legal texts which form the basis for the free movement of workers date back to the 1960s. They have since been supplemented by the Community institutions and, in particular, the case law of the ECJ.

Key terms used in the act
  • Worker: a person who undertakes genuine work under the direction of someone else, for which he is paid.
  • Family members: the spouse of the worker, his/her descendants who are under the age of 21 or are dependant, and dependant relatives in the ascending line. The term “spouse” means married partner and does not cover cohabiting partners.
  • Regulated profession: a profession that cannot be practised without certain specified vocational qualifications
  • Frontier worker: a person who lives in one Member State and works in another.

Related Acts

Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States amending Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 and repealing Directives 64/221/EEC, 68/360/EEC, 72/194/EEC, 73/148/EEC, 75/34/EEC, 75/35/EEC, 90/364/EEC, 90/365/EEC and 93/96/EEC . [Official Journal L 158 of 30.04.2004].

This Directive is a partial response to some of the problems raised in the Communication. It makes the framework of legislation on freedom of movement for workers, which is both technical and complex, more accessible by combining into a single instrument provisions that are currently scattered among several different directives. It also provides a more precise definition of the concept of family member of a Union citizen and simplifies the formalities involved in exercising the right of stay.

Mutual recognition of supervision measures

Mutual recognition of supervision measures

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Mutual recognition of supervision measures

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Mutual recognition of supervision measures

Document or Iniciative

Council Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA of 23 October 2009 on the application, between Member States of the European Union, of the principle of mutual recognition to decisions on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention.

Summary

The framework decision lays down rules for the mutual recognition of supervision measures during criminal proceedings by European Union (EU) countries. These rules regulate the:

  • recognition of a decision on supervision measures;
  • monitoring of supervision measures;
  • surrendering of a person breaching supervision measures imposed on him/her.

Thus, the framework decision aims at:

  • making sure that the person concerned will be available to attend his/her trial;
  • promoting the use of non-custodial measures in criminal proceedings that take place in an EU country other than that where the person concerned is resident;
  • improving the protection of victims and the general public.

Types of supervision measures

EU countries must recognise and monitor supervision measures that impose an obligation on the person concerned to:

  • inform the authority monitoring the supervision measures of any change of residence;
  • not enter certain locations;
  • stay at a specified location;
  • comply with certain restrictions for leaving the territory of the monitoring country;
  • report at specified times to the designated authority;
  • refrain from contacting specific persons connected to the alleged crime.

The framework decision lists a number of additional supervision measures that each EU country may choose to monitor.

Forwarding supervision measures

An EU country may forward a decision on supervision measures to the competent authority of the EU country of residence of the person against whom the measures are imposed. However, the latter must have been informed of these measures and agreed to return to his/her country of residence. Following a request from the person concerned, a decision on supervision measures may also be forwarded to the competent authority of another EU country. In such cases, the authority in question must have agreed to receive the decision.

The competent authority of the EU country that issued the decision on supervision measures forwards this decision (or a certified copy of it) together with a certificate annexed to the framework decision directly to the competent authority of the EU country that will carry out the monitoring tasks. The competent authority of the issuing country must indicate the validity period of the decision on supervision measures and whether this decision may be renewed. In addition, it must specify the expected length of time needed for monitoring the supervision measures.

Recognising decisions on supervision measures

The country to which a decision on supervision measures is forwarded must recognise this decision and take the necessary measures for monitoring the supervision measures within 20 days from receipt. The framework decision lists certain offences for which decisions on supervision measures must in all cases be recognised, without verifying the double criminality of the acts. However, these offences must be punishable by a custodial sentence or a measure involving deprivation of liberty for a minimum of three years in the country that issued the decision on supervision measures.

For any other offences, the country that is to monitor the supervision measures may require the decision to relate to acts that are also an offence under its law in order to recognise the decision. Under certain circumstances, this country may refuse to recognise the decision on supervision measures altogether.

In case the supervision measures are not compatible with the law of the monitoring country, its competent authority may adapt these measures. However, the adapted measures must correspond as closely as possible to, and may in no case be more severe than, the original measures imposed.

Once the monitoring country has recognised the decision on supervision measures, it becomes competent for the monitoring of the supervision measures and its national law will govern the supervision.

Taking any subsequent decisions

The country having issued the decision on supervision measures has competence for any subsequent decisions concerning: the renewal, review and withdrawal of the original decision, the modification of the supervision measures and the issuing of an arrest warrant. Any decision on these will be governed by the law of the issuing country.

In case the competent authority of the issuing country modifies the supervision measures, the competent authority of the monitoring country may either:

  • adapt these measures, if they are not compatible with its national law, or
  • refuse to monitor these measures, if they fall outside the scope of this framework decision.

In case the competent authority of the issuing country issues an arrest warrant, the person concerned must be surrendered conforming to the procedures laid down in the framework decision on the European arrest warrant.

Background

The conclusions of the Tampere European Council of 15-16 October 1999 stressed the importance of applying the principle of mutual recognition to pre-trial orders. Consequently, the mutual recognition of supervision measures was taken up in the 2001 programme of measures to implement the principle of mutual recognition in criminal matters.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA

1.12.2009

1.12.2012

OJ L 294 of 11.11.2009

Participation of young people with fewer opportunities

Participation of young people with fewer opportunities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Participation of young people with fewer opportunities

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Education training youth sport > Youth

Participation of young people with fewer opportunities

The European Union (EU) supports young people with fewer opportunities by helping them to realise their full potential and strengthening their participation in society.

Document or Iniciative

Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 22 May 2008 on the participation of young people with fewer opportunities [Official Journal, C 141, 7.6.2008].

Summary

Young people with fewer opportunities in society face specific difficulties because they come from less privileged educational, socio-economic or geographical backgrounds, or have a disability.

Their participation in the democratic, economic and cultural life of society needs to be given special attention at both national and Community level.

Strategic Approach

This Resolution invites Member States and the Commission to give priority to young people in vulnerable situations when implementing the Lisbon Strategy, the measures in the European Pact for Youth and national flexicurity strategies.

Member States must adopt an interdisciplinary approach when developing their specific policies and programmes. These strategies must be of a long-term nature and include early intervention measures. Guaranteeing easier access to EU programmes and Structural Funds will also support the social inclusion and participation in society of young people.

In particular, the Council invites the Commission to:

  • study national good practices in order to identify possible lines of action at European level that will facilitate the social inclusion of young people and their participation in society;
  • take these objectives into account when proposing the priorities for the future framework of cooperation in the field of youth.


Social Inclusion

The social inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities must be a priority at both national and Community level. The EU social protection and social inclusion process helps to fight discrimination and to promote equal opportunities. Furthermore, as regards policies on health and living conditions, the social, economic and other factors that determine the well-being of young people need to be better monitored and studied.
Member States and the Commission must take action against social exclusion and against the intergenerational transmission of economic inactivity by supporting access to good employment opportunities and by improving the mechanisms for vocational guidance and counselling.

Active Citizenship

The Council requires Member States and the Commission to conduct a structured dialogue that is inclusive and suitable for all. Democratic and community involvement can be enhanced by informing young people and by developing innovative forms of participation, particularly through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Member States must support the work of youth organisations and social organisations, in particular by providing professional development opportunities for managers and youth workers.


Context


The European Pact for Youth contributes to the implementation of the renewed Lisbon Strategy.
It aims to improve education and training for young people, as well as their mobility. It gives priority to young people with fewer opportunities.

In this context, the Youth in Action Programme specifically encourages young people to participate in public life and fosters their spirit of initiative, entrepreneurship and creativity.

Related Acts

Presidency Conclusions, 13 and 14 March 2008. 7652/1/08 (pdf ).

The Council reaffirms the social dimension of the Lisbon Strategy. The priorities identified are combating poverty and social exclusion, promoting active inclusion and increasing employment opportunities for those furthest from the labour market.

Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, of 25 May 2007 on creating equal opportunities for all young people – full participation in society [Official Journal – 2007/C 314/01].

The Council notes that equality of opportunity means the right of all young people to a quality lifestyle, education, training, housing and work, and to access to social security, employment systems and social and political discussion.
The Council invites the Commission and all Member States to maintain a structured dialogue with young people in a variety of ways and to strengthen the impact of the open method of coordination when shaping policies for equal opportunities and social and professional integration.
The Council invites Member States to develop the regional and local dimensions of the European Pact for Youth and to enhance the effect that national policy has on the quality of life of young people.

Equal opportunities report 2001

Equal opportunities report 2001

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Equal opportunities report 2001

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Equal opportunities report 2001

To present an overview of the main developments and achievements in the field of equal opportunities in 2001 – at both European and national level – and to describe the outlook for 2002.

2) Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission, of 28 May 2002, to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Annual Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union 2001 [COM(2002) 258 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

Framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005)

The Community framework strategy, adopted in June 2000, is aimed both at integrating the gender dimension in all Community policies that have an impact on the equal opportunities objective (principle of mainstreaming) and at promoting the introduction of specific measures to reduce inequalities. In 2001, noticeable progress was made with regard to both the integration of gender issues in the various policies and the introduction of specific measures.

As regards the mainstreaming of gender equality in Community policies, significant advances were noted in a number of areas, including the following:

  • enterprise: a study aimed at identifying and evaluating good practices in relation to the promotion of female entrepreneurship was launched, while another study to assess the gender impact of the “Innovation and SMEs” specific programme within the 5th framework research programme (1998-2002) was finalised and published recently.
  • Broad Economic Policy Guidelines: the Belgian Presidency of the European Union (EU) – July-December 2001 – launched an initiative to strengthen gender mainstreaming in the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines;
  • the Barcelona process: under the MEDA programme for cooperation with southern Mediterranean countries, a regional forum on the role of women in economic development was held in Brussels in July 2001;
  • education and continuing training: an action plan for gender equality (2001-2002) was adopted by the Socrates Committee in February 2001. The first phase is concerned with evaluating the gender dimension and the second phase with identifying indicators for improving the implementation of gender equality;
  • humanitarian aid: in 2001, the European Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) continued to incorporate the gender dimension in humanitarian aid. For example, it funded projects focusing on the specific needs of women, particularly in Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan;
  • the employment strategy: in connection with the adoption of the annual employment package, on 12 September 2001 the Commission sent a set of recommendations to eleven Member States encouraging them to strengthen equality between women and men;
  • combating violence and trafficking: implementation of the DAPHNE and STOP programmes continued in 2001 and the Commission adopted a new STOP II programme (to run until 2003). The implementation of the STOP II programme provided an opportunity to focus on assisting and protecting women who are the victims of violence;
  • the social inclusion process: in June 2001, the Member States drew up their first biennial national action plans based on common objectives to combat poverty and social exclusion. In these plans, most Member States identified higher risks of poverty and social exclusion among elderly women, single parents and victims of domestic violence. Even though many Member States are committed to enhancing the mainstreaming of the gender dimension over the next two years, there is still a lot to be done to find a consistent approach to gender needs and characteristics across all the strands of these plans.

As provided for in Decision 2000/407/EC of 19 June 2007, the Commission is committed to achieving a male/female balance in committees and expert groups, with a target of 40% minimum participation of both women and men. Following a first survey in 2000 among certain expert groups of the Commission in which an average of only 13.5% of the members were women, a second, much more comprehensive survey was conducted in 2001. In that year, the average percentage of women in all the Commission’s committees and expert groups was 28.8%. Among the members of those committees and expert groups for which the Commission had the right of appointment, 30.5% were women, whilst among the committees and groups on whose membership the Commission had no influence 28.4% were women.

The Member States continued to carry out a whole series of activities aimed at promoting equality between women and men and mainstreaming the gender dimension. The many initiatives taken include the example set by Austria, which adopted a project aimed at increasing the presence of women in the technology sector, especially IT. In Sweden, the law on equality between men and women was strengthened in January 2001. In the United Kingdom, a new government telephone helpline “Equality Direct” – backed up by a website – designed to provide firms with free information and advice on all equality-related issues was set up.

Equal pay was the priority theme chosen for 2001 under the Community framework strategy on gender equality and the associated funding programme. It was chosen because it is the most visible inequality in the European labour market. Despite the existence of legal provisions on this subject, women still earn an average of 14% less than men (in 1997, this difference was more pronounced in the private sector – 19% – than in the public sector – 10%).

The high profile given to the issue of equal pay was reflected in the conclusions of the Stockholm European Council (March 2001), which called on the Council and the Commission to develop appropriate indicators. This preparatory work enabled the Belgian Presidency to produce a set of indicators on pay differentials between women and men. Moreover, in September 2001 the European Parliament adopted a report on equal pay, which confirmed that a diversified approach would have to be adopted by all parties, whether European institutions, Member States or social partners, in order to obtain tangible results. The European Employment Strategy also plays an important part in achieving the objective of equal pay. Following the evaluation of the national plans for 2001, certain Member States announced various initiatives aimed at reducing pay differentials. However, the efforts will have to be continued if these initiatives are to come to anything and the social partners are to take an active part. Lastly, it is important to stress that the majority of the 27 projects selected in 2001 under the action programme address the issue of equal pay. Their funding amounts to a total of around 8 million euro. The first results of these projects are expected in 2003.

The following priority themes have been chosen for the programme on gender equality over the next few years:

  • 2001-2002: equal pay;
  • 2002-2003: reconciliation of work and family life;
  • 2003-2004: women in decision-making;
  • 2004-2005: gender stereotyping.

Legal developments

Substantial progress was made in 2001 on the proposal to amend the 1976 Directive on equal treatment in employment. The amended Directive is expected to break new ground in a number of important areas, including:

  • recognition of sexual harassment as discrimination on grounds of sex;
  • encouraging employers to prepare annual equality plans;
  • strengthening of the provisions concerning the judicial protection and compensation available to individuals in the event of discrimination;
  • strengthening of persons’ rights regarding maternity or paternity leave.

In response to questions put by national courts about cases relating to gender equality, the Court of Justice of the European Communities handed down three major rulings in 2001:

  • the judgements given in the Melgar and Tele Danmark cases, according to which instances of dismissal or non-renewal of an open-ended employment contract by reason of pregnancy constitute direct and unjustifiable discrimination on grounds of sex;
  • the Menauer case, in which the Court held that German pension funds entrusted with administering occupational pension schemes were bound by the principle of equal pay in the same way as an employer;
  • the Griesmar and Mouflin cases relating to two provisions of the French Civil and Military Pensions Code that discriminate against men, which were declared incompatible with Community law.

As regards the main developments in Member States’ legislation, a Finnish collective agreement provides that every sector can henceforth create a special equality allowance, which is designed to raise the remuneration of women who are not paid sufficiently well despite the difficulty of their work and their education in traditionally low-paid industrial sectors. In Denmark, the Equal Pay Act has been amended so that it is now more transparent. As far as national case law is concerned, the UK Employment Appeals Tribunal has broadened the definition of “comparator” so as to allow an employee of a local authority to compare him or herself with an employee of another local authority even where the two salary scales had been agreed independently. Paternity leave has been introduced in Greece and legislation on this subject has been proposed in France, Finland and the UK. Moreover, Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands have introduced legislation on the extension of maternity leave.

Equality in the enlargement process

The work of transposing European legislation on equal opportunities is under way in the candidate countries, some of which already obtained good results in 2001. However, the legislation in itself is not sufficient. The introduction of support mechanisms is just as essential to the achievement of gender equality. In this context, it is vital to have institutional and administrative structures that facilitate the implementation of and respect for rights relating to equality. Substantial efforts still need to be made in this direction.

Outlook for 2002

In 2002, the spotlight will be on reconciliation of work and family life. Various initiatives will be launched at European level in order to raise the profile of this issue, to finance transnational projects, to improve the statistics and indicators and to draw up a report on the application of the parental leave Directive.

The Commission will also submit a proposal for a directive on discrimination on the grounds of sex. This new legal basis will make it possible to take action in areas other than employment and social security, which at present constitute the relatively limited field of application of Community law on equality.

In 2002, the fight against trafficking in women and violence and the enhancement of the importance given to gender equality in the EU’s external policies and the actions of the Structural Funds will continue to be policy priorities. Lastly, in line with the current evaluation of the participation of women in the decision-making process and with an eye to the European Parliament elections in 2004, the Commission plans to focus its activities in 2003 on promoting the gender balance in decision-making.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Report from the Commission, of 5 March 2003, to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Annual Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union 2002 [COM(2003) 98 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

 

Report on equal opportunities 2002

Report on equal opportunities 2002

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Report on equal opportunities 2002

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Report on equal opportunities 2002

To present an overview of the main developments and achievements in the field of equal opportunities in 2002, both at European and at national level, and to describe the outlook for 2003.

2) Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission, of 5 March 2003, to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Annual Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union in 2002 [COM(2003) 98 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

ENLARGEMENT

2002 was an historic year in the European Union (EU) enlargement process as it saw the conclusion of accession negotiations with 10 candidate countries. The period leading up to their entry into the EU on 1 May 2004 will therefore be an opportunity to step up monitoring and support for these countries in the final stages of their preparation for full membership. In this context the action programme for equal opportunities was opened up to candidate countries in 2002.

Legal Transposition

In the field of equal opportunities nine European Directives had to be transposed. The majority of accession countries, in particular Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, are fairly well advanced in the process of alignment with this acquis. Cooperation will continue with Romania and Bulgaria who have made significant progress towards alignment with Community law.

Implementing structures

Transposing the law is not enough in itself. It is equally important to establish adequate institutional and administrative structures, in particular equality organisations and mediators as well as independent advisory bodies. Several countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Poland have already set up structures of this nature. In both Cyprus and Malta the administrative capacities needed to transpose the Community acquis are in place but need to be further strengthened.

The socio-economic dimension

There is a marked contrast between the current Member States and the accession countries in socio-economic terms. For many years there was a strong presence of women on the labour market in the accession countries, but their numbers fell significantly during the early years of the transition. Levels of unemployment are high among both women and men, particularly in Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and the Slovak Republic. Moreover, men’s participation in the labour market is lower than the EU average and therefore the gender gap in terms of both employment and unemployment is narrower than in the EU. However, as in the Member States, labour markets in the accession countries are strongly gender segregated and the salary gap is wider still. There is a general recognition of the need for a gender mainstreaming policy and strategy but the necessary tools are lacking. Furthermore, beyond the basic provisions for maternity and parental leave, there have been very few developments in terms of family-friendly working-time arrangements.

Cooperation in the field of social inclusion mainly consists of preparing Joint Inclusion Memoranda, the aim of which is to prepare the accession countries for full participation in the European Social Inclusion Process from the date of accession. The memoranda will be finalised by the end of 2003 and, for accession countries, represent a major step towards establishing their first National Action Plans in 2005 to combat poverty and social exclusion.

As regards the role of women in decision-making, it is important that women in accession countries are able to reap the benefits of existing Community law on male-female equality. When European elections are held in June 2004 women will have to be in a position to take on their role, equal to that of men, in decision-making and political life. In 2003 the Commission will concentrate its activities on the promotion of gender balance in decision-making which will provide a basis for action and exchange on this theme between accession countries and Member States.

FRAMEWORK STRATEGY FOR GENDER EQUALITY

The strategy for gender mainstreaming has proved an efficient tool in the promotion of equality between men and women. Gender mainstreaming combined with specific actions, legislation and financing programmes in particular, constitutes the dual approach covered by the framework strategy for gender equality.

The European Employment Strategy

In 2002 the Commission carried out an evaluation of the European Employment Strategy which revealed that more emphasis is being put on the gender equality issue, even in the Member States that were “lagging behind”, and the gap between the sexes has narrowed in terms of employment and unemployment rates. Nevertheless these inequalities are still too marked and a lot remains to be done in order to overcome them. Furthermore, substantial progress still has to be made in the development of child-care facilities.

The Structural Funds

In this area gender equality policy is also based on the dual approach of specific measures along with gender mainstreaming across all Structural Fund operations. This dual approach is most advanced in the European Social Fund (ESF), the EU’s main financial support tool for the European Employment Strategy. Most of the initiatives aimed at reducing gender inequalities focus on employment and are funded by the ESF. Gender mainstreaming has proved more difficult in other Structural Fund areas such as transport, the environment and rural development.

As regards improving the promotion of gender equality through the Structural Funds, only a few programmes using the funds in the Member States have adopted a global gender mainstreaming strategy. Moreover, the majority of these programmes lack clear targets and monitoring in terms of gender equality.

The Social Inclusion Process

The European Social Inclusion Process has been developed to support Member States in their fight against poverty and social exclusion. The Member States draw up National Action Plans on the basis of the common objectives set out by the Council of Ministers. They have also been asked to include gender mainstreaming in all their strategies for combating poverty and social exclusion.

The gender dimension did not feature strongly in the first National Action Plans submitted in 2001, but in July 2002 the Ministers agreed to enhance this aspect of the plans which added great impetus to successful gender mainstreaming. In the next round, due in July 2003, the National Action Plans are expected to put more emphasis on specific actions on gender and demonstrate gender mainstreaming throughout.

The gender dimension in the national strategies on pension

Although women are in the majority amongst old people, most pension schemes have traditionally been designed for men who support a family and work full time without taking a career break. The first national reports, submitted in September 2002, show that many pension systems still reflect these basic principles. In many countries, in fact, women’s pensions remain, on average, significantly lower than men’s. However, there is some evidence that the Member States are gradually adapting their systems in line with developments in the social and economic role of women and men, although the effects of such changes are not likely to be felt for some time.

Other policies

In the field of research and development the Commission intends to create a European Platform for women scientists aimed at promoting female scientists and involving them more actively in shaping the science policy debate at national and European level. Furthermore, in December 2002 the Commission published its first calls for proposals under the 6th Community Research Framework Programme among which was a call for proposals concerning women and scientific activities.

In May 2002, in response to the Commission’s Communication entitled “Making a European area of lifelong learning a reality”, the Council adopted a Resolution which recognises equal opportunities as one of the fundamental principles behind the concept of lifelong learning. It also views ongoing training for women, particularly within companies, as an essential goal.

The Commission’s Directorate-General (DG) Environment included gender mainstreaming in its Management Plan. Significant progress has been made in the field of waste, water, marine and soil management in which gender impact studies have been undertaken.

POLICIES AND SPECIFIC ACTIONS FOR GENDER EQUALITY

Legislation

Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards employment, professional training and promotion and working conditions was amended in September 2002. One of the key amendments dealt with sexual harassment at work. For the first time at European level a binding law now defines sexual harassment and prohibits it as a form of discrimination based on sex. Although the Member States have until 2005 to conform to the Directive’s new provisions, the majority of them have already adopted measures aimed at combating sexual harassment, particularly Belgium, France, Finland and Ireland.

Several national courts have been called on to pass judgement on the issue of equal pay. In the Netherlands, for example, a court has ruled in favour of a care worker who brought a claim over equal pay.

In 2002 several Member States took initiatives to facilitate the reconciliation of work with family life. Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, Catalonia and Germany have actually adopted measures along these lines.

The action programme

Equality of pay between women and men was the main theme in 2001, the first year of the programme, because the salary gap between men and women is one of the most striking inequalities that women face in their professional lives. The majority of the projects chosen in the framework of the Action Programme dealt with issues of equal pay. The results are due in 2003 but, since the projects run for 15 months, several conferences on the subject were held in 2002 and provided an opportunity to underline the persistence of the equal pay issue.

The reconciliation of work and family life was the priority in 2002. This is an essential part of the gender dimension in the European employment strategy and in the social inclusion process. It aims to ensure favourable conditions for women and men for entering, returning to and remaining on the job market. This includes access to quality, affordable childcare services, an equal division of childcare and domestic responsibilities, encouraging fathers to take parental leave and the possibility of flexible working arrangements both for men and women. In response to the calls for proposals under the Gender Equality Programme, 18 projects on this theme were selected in 2002 under the action programme.

In 2003 the emphasis will be on women in decision-making. Attaining political parity remains a concern both at Member State and European level. Although several Member States have introduced legislation in this field, the results of recent national elections failed to live up to expectations. In France, for example, the equality law did not have the desired effect of balancing representation either in the local or parliamentary elections. Several Member States such as Belgium, Ireland, Spain and the UK are now tackling the issue of gender-balanced political representation.

In 2004-2005 priority will be given to the theme of male and female stereotypes.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Trafficking in human beings

The fight against trafficking in human beings is one of the EU’s political priorities. In 1996 the EU launched the STOP programme in support of actions aimed at combating the trafficking of human beings and the sexual exploitation of children. In September 2002, the European conference “Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings – Global challenge for the 21st century” took place in Brussels. The conference was a Commission initiative in the framework of the STOP II programme and was organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the European Parliament and the Commission. It resulted most significantly in the Brussels Declaration aimed at developing European and international cooperation and encouraging the adoption of concrete measures, norms, good practices and mechanisms to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings. With this aim in mind, the Brussels Declaration makes recommendations on the prevention of trafficking, assisting and protecting victims and police and judicial cooperation.

Domestic violence

Community action to prevent violence against children, young people and women and to protect victims and groups at risk is brought together under the DAPHNE programme. Early in 2003 the Commission issued a proposal on the second phase of Community action, DAPHNE II (2004-2008). This proposal is similar in structure to that of the initial DAPHNE programme (2000-2003) and draws on the experience gained through the first programme.

Other initiatives

Serious attention has also been paid to a number of worrying situations, including the condition of women in Afghanistan, the stoning of women and the integration of Muslim women into European society.

OUTLOOK FOR 2003

The Commission’s work programme for 2003 will include the following horizontal priorities for all its services:

  • gender impact assessment will be incorporated into the overall impact assessment of new proposals and gender mainstreaming will continue in new areas;
  • each service will increase its efforts to obtain gender-specific data, to systematically break down all related statistics by gender and to establish gender equality indicators;
  • each DG and service will incorporate gender mainstreaming modules into their training plans for all staff, particularly those at management level.

The Commission will launch an open consultation on possible guidelines for the recasting of existing Directives in the field of equal treatment. Furthermore, in 2003 the Commission intends to present a report on the implementation of the Directive on parental leave, looking in particular at the reasons why fathers fail to exercise this right. Lastly, the Greek and Italian presidencies will prepare an analysis, including indicators, of women in decision-making.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

 

The principle of equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market

The principle of equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The principle of equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

The principle of equal treatment for men and women outside the labour market

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between women and men in the access to and supply of goods and services.

Summary

Scope

The prohibition of discrimination between women and men applies to access to and supply of goods and services, in both the public and private sectors. The Directive applies to goods and services which are available to the public, irrespective of the persons concerned (i.e. irrespective of the individual situation of the potential consumer), and which are offered outside the area of private and family life. The term “services” refers to services provided against payment.

The Directive does not apply to the content of media and advertising or to education.

Differences in the treatment of men and women may be accepted only if they are justified by a legitimate aim, such as the protection of victims of sex-related violence (in cases such as the establishment of single-sex shelters) or the freedom of association (in cases of membership of single-sex private clubs). Any limitation should nevertheless be appropriate and necessary.

The principle of prohibition of discrimination in the area of goods and services

The Directive establishes the prohibition of discrimination based on sex in the access to and supply of goods and services. Therefore, all direct discrimination * between women and men is prohibited, including unfavourable treatment for reasons of pregnancy and maternity, and all indirect discrimination * is also prohibited. Harassment *, sexual harassment * and incitement to discrimination are considered as discrimination based on sex and for this reason are also prohibited. The Directive includes the definitions of these concepts, referring to the definitions used for the same terms in previous Directives.

The principle of equal treatment does not exclude the adoption of positive action to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to sex in the area of goods and services.

The Directive establishes minimum requirements: while the Member States can introduce or maintain provisions which are more favourable than those laid down in the Directive, they cannot reduce the level of protection already granted in the fields covered by the Directive.

Application in the field of insurance

The Directive prohibits, in principle, the use of sex as a criterion in the calculation of premiums and benefits for the purposes of insurance and related financial services, in all new contracts concluded after 21 December 2007. The Commission deems insurance companies’ practice of separating women and men into different pools for the calculation of premiums to be discriminatory, as they do not face the same risks, bearing in mind their life expectancy in particular.

Member States may however decide to permit such practices where sex is a determining factor in the assessment of risk based on relevant and accurate actuarial and statistical data available to the public. These Member States shall review the justification for these derogations five years after transposal of the Directive, taking into account the most recent actuarial and statistical data.

In any event, all Member States must ensure that costs related to pregnancy and maternity (for example sickness insurance) are attributed equally to men and women. Member States must comply with this provision no later than 21 December 2009.

Bodies for the promotion of equal treatment

The Directive lays down that each Member State is to charge one or more bodies with the promotion of equal treatment for women and men on a national level, in the fields covered by the Directive. These bodies will be empowered to analyse the problems encountered, put forward recommendations and provide concrete assistance to victims.

Standard provisions

The Directive provides victims with the possibility of resorting to legal and/or administrative proceedings and obtaining appropriate reparation or compensation. The penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Once the plaintiff has established facts from which it may be presumed that discrimination has taken place, the burden of proof rests with the respondent. Protection of victims and witnesses of discrimination based on sex, against risks of reprisals is also stipulated. Moreover, the proposal encourages dialogue with non-governmental organisations contributing to the fight against discrimination based on sex.

Compliance, penalties, dissemination of information and reports

Member States shall ensure that any laws, regulations and administrative provisions contrary to the principle of equal treatment are abolished, and that any contractual provisions, internal rules of undertakings, and rules governing associations which are contrary to the principle of equal treatment are declared null and void or are amended.

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive, ensure that the information contained in the Directive is published widely, and shall communicate all available information concerning the application of this Directive to the Commission, by 21 December 2009 and every five years thereafter.

The Commission shall draw up a report including a review of the current practices of Member States with regard to the use of sex as a factor in the calculation of premiums and benefits. It shall submit this report no later than 21 December 2010.

Background

This Directive gives concrete form to the Commission’s intention to present a proposal to prohibit discrimination based on sex outside the labour market, as expressed in the framework strategy for gender equality (2001-2005) and in the social policy agenda published in June 2000. In December 2000, the Nice European Council had encouraged the Commission to do so by calling for the adoption of a proposal for a directive to promote equal treatment for men and women in fields other than work and employment.

This Directive has its legal basis in Article 13 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, which provides that the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, can take the necessary measures to combat all discrimination based on sex.

Key terms used in the act
  • Direct discrimination: a situation where one person is treated less favourably, on grounds of sex, than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation.
  • Indirect discrimination: a situation where a provision, a criterion or an apparently neutral practice could put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage compared with persons of the other sex, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are legitimate and necessary.
  • Harassment: a situation where unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person is exhibited with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile or degrading environment.
  • Sexual harassment: a situation where unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct with sexual connotations is exhibited with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2004/113/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2003/0265] 21.12.2004 21.12.2007 OJ L 373 of 21.12.2004

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Towards a Community framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005) [COM(2000) 0335 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Social policy agenda [COM(2000) 0379 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Gender equality in the labour market

Gender equality in the labour market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Gender equality in the labour market

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Gender equality in the labour market

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast) [Official Journal L 204 of 26.7.2006].

Summary

Equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of European law which applies to all aspects of life in society, including to the world of work.

Equality in employment and working conditions

This Directive prohibits direct or indirect discrimination * between men and women concerning the conditions of:

  • recruitment, access to employment and self-employment;
  • dismissals;
  • vocational training and promotion;
  • membership of workers’ or employers’ organisations.

In addition, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (Article 157) prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex on matters of pay for the same work or work of equal value. This principle also applies to job classification systems used for determining pay.

However, different treatment for men and women may be justified by reason of the nature of the particular occupational activity, if the measures taken are legitimate and proportionate.

Member States shall encourage employers and vocational trainers to act against discrimination on grounds of sex, and particularly against harassment and sexual harassment *.

Equality in social protection

Women and men are treated equally under occupational social security schemes, particularly concerning:

  • the scope and conditions of access to the schemes;
  • the contributions;
  • the calculation of benefits, including supplementary benefits, and the conditions governing the duration and retention of entitlement.

This principle applies to the whole working population, including:

  • self-employed workers, however for this category Member States may provide for different treatment, in particular concerning the age of retirement;
  • workers whose activity is interrupted by illness, maternity, accident or involuntary unemployment;
  • persons seeking employment, retired and disabled workers, and those claiming under them.

Parental leave

At the end of maternal, paternal or adoption leave, employees have the right to:

  • return to their jobs or to equivalent posts on conditions which are no less favourable to them;
  • benefit from any improvement in working conditions to which they would have been entitled during their absence.

Defence of rights

Member States must put in place remedies for employees who have been victims of discrimination, such as conciliation and judicial procedures. In addition, they shall take the necessary measures to protect employees and their representatives against adverse treatment as a reaction to a complaint within the undertaking or to any legal proceedings.

Lastly, they shall establish penalties and reparation or compensation possibilities in relation to the damage sustained.

In the case of legal proceedings, the burden of proof is on the party accused of discrimination who must prove that there has been no breach of the principle of equal treatment.

Promoting equal treatment

Member States appoint bodies whose role it is to promote, analyse and monitor equal treatment, to ensure that the legislation is followed and also to provide support to victims of discrimination.

In addition, enterprises must promote the principle of gender equality and strengthen the role of social partners and non-governmental organisations.

Key terms of the Act
  • Direct discrimination: where one person is treated less favourably on grounds of sex than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation.
  • Indirect discrimination: where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage compared with persons of the other sex, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
  • Harassment: where unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
  • Sexual harassment: where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2006/54/EC

15.8.2006

15.8.2008

OJ L 204, 26.7.7

Report on equality between women and men – 2009

Report on equality between women and men – 2009

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Report on equality between women and men – 2009

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Equality between men and women

Report on equality between women and men – 2009

Document or Iniciative

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 27 February 2009 – Equality between women and men – 2009 [COM(2009) 77 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The sixth Commission report sets out the main progress made in promoting equality between women and men in 2008. In view of the current demographic and economic challenges, the participation of women is an essential contribution to growth, employment and social cohesion in the European Union (EU).

In 2008, the rate of employment for women was close to the objectives set by the Lisbon strategy (60 % in 2010). However, the proportion varies between 36.9 % and 73.2 % according to the Member State. Moreover, women are overrepresented in precarious, short-term or part-time jobs.

They are more exposed than men to situations of poverty. This is the case for 32 % of single mothers and 21 % of women over the age of 65.

The average gap in employment rates between women and men is narrowing, and fell from 17.1 % in 2000 to 14.2 % in 2007. However, the sharing of family responsibilities remains unequal, and the employment rate of women with children falls by 12.4 percentage points whilst in the same situation that of men increases by 7.3 points.

Most qualifications in the EU (58.9 %) are obtained by women. However, their level of education does not reflect their situation on the labour market, where they are limited in terms of career development, remuneration and pension rights.

The number of female managers is quite small. The European average is 30 %. However the figure is lower than this in the majority of Member States.

Developments in regulations

In 2008, the Commission initiated infringement proceedings against certain Member States, concerning the transposition of Directive 2002/73/EC (on access to employment, vocational training and promotion) and Directive 2004/113/EC (on equal treatment in the access to goods and services).

The Commission is examining the effectiveness of existing legislation as regards equality of remuneration between men and women. It may propose, if necessary, new regulations on tackling the pay gap related to gender.

Many provisions have been adopted in order to promote reconciliation between working and family life. The Commission proposes the amendment of Directive 92/85/EEC on maternity protection, in particular by introducing an increase in minimum maternity leave to 18 weeks. These provisions should be extended, on a voluntary basis, to the self-employed and their assisting spouses. Social partners have started negotiations concerning parental leave and leave for family reasons, in addition to maternity leave, and have reached agreement. The Commission has adopted a proposal aimed at implementing this agreement through a directive. The Commission has also presented a report on childcare systems, the development of which is still insufficient in a large number of Member States.

The Council of June 2008 adopted conclusions aimed at encouraging the involvement of women in political decision-making and the elimination of sexist prejudice in society.

Strategic orientations

The contribution of equality policies to economic development, particularly in a context of economic slowdown. Changes to achieve real equality depend on removing the differences and barriers which limit the employment and the professional development of women.

The report highlights in particular the importance of:

  • reconciling family life and professional life, in particular through the sharing of parental responsibility and the development of childcare services;
  • combating stereotypes related to gender, through awareness-raising campaigns and the role of the media;
  • increasing the participation of women in decision-making positions and their representation in electoral processes by various means;
  • communication aimed at public opinion and improving understanding of the problems of equality between men and women at all levels of society.