ESA brings Norway to Court

ESA gender equalityEEA is taking Norway to court for discrimination of fathers. They also believe Norway does not comply to patient rights. Photo: ESA

ESA brings Norway to court for discrimination

ESA is bringing Norway to court on discrimination of fathers. They further believe Norway fail to comply to EEA rules on patient rights. Norway Today has been assured by ESA that both cases are still relevant. We have, however, not received a comment from the Norwegian Authorities on either issue.

ESA Takes Norway to court for discrimination against fathers

The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) considers that the Norwegian rules on paid parental leave discriminate on grounds of sex. This is a breach of EEA rules. ESA has therefore decided to bring Norway before the EFTA Court.

“Equal treatment is a core principle of EEA law. When Norwegian authorities systematically and illegally treat women and men differently, it is ESA’s job to hold them to account”, says ESA President Bente Angell-Hansen.

In Norway, certain limits on the grant of paid parental leave only apply to fathers. According to the Norwegian system, the father’s right to paid leave is dependent upon the mother’s work situation, but the mother’s right does not depend on the work situation of the father.

The result is that fathers’ rights to parental leave are more restricted. In ESA’s view, this constitutes a breach of the Equal Treatment Directive (2006/54/EC).

“The EEA rules do not require Norway to offer paid parental leave. However, if such a system is in place, it must be founded on equal treatment”, Angell-Hansen explains.

Today’s court referral is the third and final stage in ESA’s formal infringement proceedings against Norway. Norwegian authorities have had several opportunities to voice their opinion and have made it clear they do not consider that the Equal Treatment Directive applies. ESA disagrees, and it is now up to the EFTA Court to settle the matter.

“The case will go before the EFTA court in Luxembourg on February 5th,” Communication Officer of ESA, Sigrún Magnúsdóttir, writes in an email to Norway Today.

Norway Fails to respect EEA rules on patient’s rights

Norway makes it too difficult for its citizens to seek hospital treatment in any other EEA States. This is the conclusion of the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) which has sent a reasoned opinion to Norway.

“Under specific circumstances, the EEA Agreement gives Norwegian patients the right to seek hospital treatment in other European countries. However, Norway has made it much too difficult to get authorisation or reimbursement in such cases”, ESA President, Sven Erik Svedman states.

ESA has received several complaints concerning the issue and has found that a number of provisions in Norwegian legislation are not in line with EEA law.

Overall, the Norwegian system lacks the clarity, precision and transparency required by the EEA rules on patients’ rights. This makes it very difficult for patients to navigate the system and fully understand their rights.

Further, Norwegian rules prohibit patients from turning directly to a medical service provider in another EEA State, in cases where the Norwegian health care system has failed to provide necessary medical treatment within the prescribed deadlines.

Other Norwegian rules fail to ensure, as required under EEA law, that an assessment is made as to whether patients can actually receive equally efficient treatment in Norway in due time. In addition, Norway does not ensure an adequate, case-by-case assessment of individual patients.

Finally, the Norwegian rules do not explicitly ensure, that what is recognised by international medical science is fully taken into account when evaluating the expected benefit of medical treatment available elsewhere in Europe.

A reasoned opinion is the second step in an infringement procedure against an EEA State. The Norwegian Government now has two months to express its views. After that, ESA may decide to refer the case to the EFTA Court.

“We have sent Norway a follow-up letter on the matter and we remain in close dialogue with them regarding the case,” Magnúsdóttir informs Norway Today.

Related documents

Father’s rights

Patient’s rights

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