European Union
last updated 17 December 2007

The law and policy on sex discrimination and sexual harassment which the European Union has developed and Member States have implemented over the last twenty years will become directly applicable to many Central and Eastern European countries as they join the European Union (EU). Eight countries in the Central and Eastern European region joined the EU in May 2004: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in January 2007. These countries were required to comply with the EU's law and regulation (the acquis communautaire) prior to acceding to the Treaty Establishing the European Community and other European Union instruments. Many of these countries have already taken action in the area of gender equality and sexual harassment in an effort to demonstrate compliance with EU law and policy. Please see the Domestic Legal Framework section and the Country Pages for more information on these actions.

The European Union has addressed the issue of sex discrimination, and sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination, in its primary treaty and in directives and resolutions promulgated by its executive bodies, the Council of Ministers and Commission and by its legislative body, the Parliament. The topics under this section describe in more detail the EU treaty obligations, case law, directives and resolutions relating to sexual harassment. For more information about the institutions and mechanisms of the European Union please see the section of this website entitled International Law.