EUROPE – The International Labour Organisation says the European Court of Justice’s work on pensions has been “innovative” – but says more is needed to make equal pension provision a reality.

The comments follow the ECJ’s role in a series of actions such as the Bachmann, Danner and Skandia cases which observers say have helped pave the way for pan-European pensions.

And just last month the European Commission referred Spain to the ECJ over tax-deductible contributions to non-Spanish pension funds.

“Through its extensive case law on occupational and state pensions, the European Court of Justice has developed an innovative approach to addressing direct and indirect discrimination,” said Emmanuel Reynaud, chief of the ILO’s Social Security Policy and Development Branch.

“The Court has declared equal pay and equal treatment to be fundamental workers’ rights which must be interpreted broadly,” Reynaud said in the preface to a new 131-page report entitled ‘Gender roles and sex equality: European solutions to social security disputes’.

“The European Court of Justice has created a legal framework for judicial interpretation, along with procedural mechanisms, to facilitate the pursuit of individual claims and the receipt of adequate compensation,” the report said.

“However, these mechanisms are not sufficiently well-known and applied, even among legal experts and the judiciary. More efforts are required to bridge the gap between equality on paper and everyday reality,” writes author Ingebord Heide.

“In this process, the social partners, public bodies, including the courts, and civil society all have an important role to play.”