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Access to goods and services

What the rules say

The Directive 2004/113/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services enshrines in EU law the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services.

All EU countries were required to implement the directive by the end of 2007, except for the clause about costs relating to pregnancy and maternity -Article 5(3)-, which must be implemented by the end of 2009.

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

Scope of the rules

The directive applies to:

  • all people and organisations (both public and private sector) that make goods and services available to the public;
  • goods and services offered outside the area of private and family life.

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

Exceptions

A  specific exception for insurance and related financial services where gender was used as a determining factor in the assessment of risk based on relevant and accurate actuarial and statistical data was also foreseen. However,  the Court of Justice of the European Union annulled Article 5(2) of the Directive in its Test Achats ruling . The ruling obliged Member States to make unisex premiums and benefits mandatory by 21 December 2012. Since this date, the unisex rule applies without derogation in relation to the calculation of individuals' premiums and benefits in new contracts. The Commission adopted guidelines concerning the consequences of the ruling in 2011 .

In 2015, the Commission adopted its first implementation report of Directive 2004/113/EC . This report provides the first state of play of the implementation of the Directive in the 28 Member States as well of the implementation of the Test Achats ruling.

National equality bodies

Each EU country must have at least one body responsible for promoting equal treatment between women and men in the fields covered by the directive. These national equality bodies are empowered to analyse the problems encountered, monitor the situation in their country, make recommendations and provide concrete assistance to victims.

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