Men's hourly wages are still, on average, 16.2% higher than women's in the EU, according to a report published by the European Commission, on 9 December 2013. This pay gap, which has not changed over the last year, exists in all EU countries, and ranges from 2.3% in Slovenia to 27.3% in Estonia. Nonetheless, global figures attest to a slight drop over the last few years, with a reduction of 1.1% between 2008 and 2011. According to the Commission's report, the fight against pay inequality is mainly hindered by difficulties in implementing rules on equal pay, and by women's reluctance to take legal action within national jurisdictions.

"Much of the change actually resulted from a decline in men's earnings rather than an increase for women," said Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding. "The principle of equal pay for equal work is written in the EU treaties since 1957. It is high time that it becomes a reality in the workplace as well."

The Commission is monitoring whether or not the member states correctly transpose EU rules on equal treatment, and has engaged in infringement procedures against 23 countries over the way they transposed certain EU measures on gender equality. All these dossiers have now been resolved - except one. Nonetheless, the report says that the effective aplication of the principle of equal pay is hindered by a lack of transparency within pay systems, the absence of clear...

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