A European Commission plan to ban underwriting of insurance products on grounds of gender has been blocked its a majority of member states voted against the proposal.
At a recent Council of Ministers social affairs committee meeting, 17 out of 25 representatives voted for insurance products to be removed from the EU gender discrimination directive which outlaws sex discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
The directive would have made annuities cheaper for some women but life insurance and motor insurance would have been more expensive.
Greek social affairs European commissioner Anna Diamantopolou campaigned for the directive to be made law but the UK and the Equal Opportunities Commission opposed the move. The rejection of the proposal means Diamantopolou's successor as social affairs commissioner, Stavros Diamas, will have to go back to the drawing board if he wants to pursue the proposal.
ABI spokeswoman Emma Quantrill says: “This is clearly a step in the right direction. The ball is back in the EU Parliament's court. We now have to wait to see what it will do.”
A Department for Trade and Industry spokesman says: “At the European Employment Council meeting attended by minister for women Jacqui Smith, she set out the Government's reservations about directive and proposed that where sound evidence existed, the directive should allow gender to be used as a factor in calculating risk and setting prices for insurance-based products.”