The Advocate General has now delivered his opinion, which is that:
- a rule in national law, which permits employers to dismiss employees aged 65 or over if the reason for dismissal is retirement, can in principle be justified under the Directive if that rule is objectively and reasonably justified in the context of national law by a legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the labour market and it is not apparent that the means put in place to achieve that aim of public interest are inappropriate and unnecessary for the purpose; and
- the Directive permits Member States to introduce legislation providing that a difference of treatment on grounds of age does not constitute discrimination if it is determined to be a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim. It does not, however, require Member States to define the kinds of differences of treatment which may be justified.
The Advocate General’s opinion is not binding on the ECJ, but is followed in a majority of cases. The ECJ’s ruling is expected shortly before Christmas.