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Gender pay gap still an issue in Europe

10 December, 2013

The average gender pay gap in the EU stands at 16%, according to the latest data published by the European Commission, on Monday.

Cyprus is close to the European average with a 16.4% gender pay gap.

According to a Commission press release the situation varies in other European countries, ranging from Estonia (27.3%) to Slovenia (2.3%).

The Commission data shows a slight downward tendency in recent years, recording a drop of 1.1% between 2008 and 2011.

The report’s findings suggest that the greatest problem in combating gender pay inequalities within the EU has to do with putting into practice the rules on equal pay in combination with a lack of complaints in local courts.

“The pay gap is still large and it is not budging. To make things worse: much of the change actually resulted from a decline in men’s earnings rather than an increase for women,” said Commission Vice-President and EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.

“The principle of equal pay for equal work is written in the EU Treaties since 1957. It is high time that it becomes a reality in the workplace as well”, she noted.

The report confirms that the effective application of the equal pay principle is hindered by the lack of transparency in pay systems, the lack of clear benchmarks on pay equality, and by a lack of clear information for workers that suffer inequality.

“Increased wage transparency could improve the situation of individual victims of pay discrimination who would be able to compare themselves more easily to workers of the other sex”, the press release says.

The Commission further notes that only two Member States (France and the Netherlands) have sufficiently and clearly transposed specifically the 2006 Equality Directive in such a way that no further information is required from them.

However it should be noted that the gender pay gap for France stands at 14.7% and for the Netherlands at 17.9%.

It is further pointed out that the Commission is following up with the remaining 26 Member States and will work to ensure full application and enforcement of the rights established by EU law, if necessary through further infringement proceedings.