Burden of proof directive
On 15 December 1997, EU social affairs ministers
unanimously agreed to adopt a Directive adjusting the burden of
proof in sex discrimination cases.
The new Directive must be implemented by the Member
States by 1 January 2001 and will apply to situations covered by
the Treaty's Article 119, which guarantees the principle of equal
treatment and access to employment. The Directive covers both
direct and indirect discrimination. Indirect discrimination is a
rule or practice which is apparently neutral yet affects a higher
proportion of one sex, unless it is justified by independent
The Commission will soon table a Proposal to extend
this new Directive to the UK which has not yet ratified the Social
Protocol to the Maastricht Treaty. The social protocol has been
incorporated into the EC Treaty by the Amsterdam Treaty which the
UK has signed.