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European Equality Law Network

European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination

Application of EU law

The European Commission has a crucial role in monitoring the correct transposition and application of the gender equality and non-discrimination directives at the national level. The Commission is entitled to initiate infringement proceedings against Member States if they had failed to transpose EU directives into their national legal order or if sufficient or incorrect implementation had been done. The Commission may start enforcement action either in response to a complaint brought by an individual or on its own initiative. Infringement proceedings may be brought to the attention of the Court of Justice of the European Union and ultimately the Court is entitled to impose financial penalties on the Member States which would have failed to comply with a previous judgement establishing a breach of EU law. Individuals may rely directly on EU directives provisions, rather than on the national implementing legislation, under certain conditions, when they claim discrimination against the State or public authorities before national courts. In any other case, in particular against other individuals, redress may be obtained through recourse to national courts, in accordance with national law. Reference for a preliminary ruling may be made to the Court of Justice of the European Union, if legal interpretation of national or EU provisions is needed under the light of EU law. The preliminary reference procedure aims at ensuring uniformity in the interpretation and application of Community law.

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