8. Transposition and implementation status

The goal of anti-discrimination law is to ensure that everyone has equal and fair access to available opportunities. Persons in similar situations must be able to receive similar treatment and less favourable treatment due to some characteristic possessed is explicitly prohibited.

European citizens can exercise their right of appeal in the event of discrimination both direct - or in the case of different treatment in a comparable context - and indirect, or due to a disadvantage that cannot be justified by a legitimate and proportionate objective.

In other words, direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated worse than another person in the same situation would be treated, due to their ethnicity, sexual orientation, belief, etc. In cases of indirect discrimination, on the other hand, a person ends up being penalised by apparently neutral provisions, criteria, or behaviours, but which are disproportionate or do not have an objective justification.

All Member States have transposed anti-discrimination laws and, to date (April 2022), there are no pending infringement procedures on the transposition or application of the Employment Equality Directive. The Commission, by virtue of its obligations under the Treaties, through the infringement procedure can take action against a member state if it identifies possible violations of EU law on the basis of its own investigations or complaints from citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders. The infringement procedure may involve the EC referring the case to the Court of Justice and the imposition of financial penalties.

In terms of implementation, however, there are obstacles such as:

In a plenary session in October 2019, the European Parliament reiterated the need for the adoption of a directive on the new EU strategy on gender equality. During the discussion, some MEPs, while underlining the importance of the fight against discrimination, questioned the need for a proposal from the Commission, as it was considered a violation of national competence on certain issues and contrary to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The process is still blocked by a lack of decision by the Council.

On 19 March 2021, the Commission presented its third report on the application of the Racial Equality Directive (Directive 2000/43/EC) and the Employment Equality Directive (Directive 2000/78/EC). The report highlights the challenges that still need to be overcome, but also identifies some possible ways to improve the application of the two directives. These include strengthening the role of equality bodies and supporting Member States in monitoring the application of directives.

For an exhaustive overview of the transposition status, country by country, we recommend reading the latest EC report  https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/report_on_the_application_of_the_racial_equality_directive_and_the_employment_equality_directive_en.pdf.

In the video, the speech by Estonian MEP Yana Toom (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) at the plenary assembly of the European Parliament, on 15 September 2016, raises the relevance of the Employment Equality Directive in the area of the debate on the right of female workers to wear the Islamic headscarf.

In the video, the speech by Spanish MEP Javi López (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament) at the plenary assembly of the European Parliament, on 10 February 2015, underlines the persistence of wage discrimination, highlighting how, to fill the gap between the wages received by men and women, the latter would have to work 84 more days a year.