Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
The Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC(1) prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation in employment and occupation.
Article 4 of the directive provides for limited derogations in specific cases. Article 4(1) of the directive allows, under strict conditions, differences of treatment where a particular characteristic related to a ground covered by the directive is a ‘genuine and determining occupational requirement’ for the job in question.
Article 4(2) of the directive allows Member States to provide that churches and religious organisations can require that the person employed is of the same religion where this is justified by the nature of the job in question. The exemption under Article 4(2) concerns only differences of treatment by religious organisations on grounds of religion or belief.
According to the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, exceptions to the principle of equal treatment, such as those in Article 4 of Directive 2000/78/EC, have to be interpreted narrowly.
Member States' legislation on conditions of recruitment, the termination of the employment relationship and other working conditions must comply with the principle of equal treatment, as put into effect by Directive 2000/78/EC.
The Commission will contact the Hungarian authorities for further information and to examine whether Hungarian law is in conformity with Directive 2000/78/EC.