"European Equal Pay Day reminds us of the days and hours that women have been working 'for free' since 1 January. The principle of equal pay for equal work is written in the EU Treaties since 1957. It is high time that it is put in practice everywhere," said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, the Commission’s Vice-President.
The latest figures show an average 16.4% gender pay gap in 2010 across the European Union. They confirm a slight downward trend in recent years, when the figure was around 17% or higher. The current rate ranges from around 2% in Poland to more than 27% in Estonia.
But despite the generally slightly positive trend, there are member states where the gender pay gap is widening, such as Bulgaria, France, Latvia, Hungary, Portugal and Romania.
The gender pay gap is the average difference in gross hourly earnings between women and men across the economy as a whole. It is persistently high, with considerable differences between countries and sectors being recorded, reflecting the problem of balancing work and private life and with many women taking parental leave and having part-time jobs.