Mr. Montre brought proceedings before the Antwerp Labor Court because the law applicable at the time (Royal Decree No 72 of 10 November 1967 on the retirement and survivors' pension for self-employed persons) allowed him to benefit from a full pension only as of the age of 65 and obliged him to accept a 25% reduction in his pension if he chose to retire at the age of 60 (5% per year before 65), while self-employed women could retire at the age of 60 and enjoy a full pension. Upon referral, the Constitutional Court ruled that there was no discrimination in this particular case because at that time, there were still long-standing differences between self-employed men and self-employed women as regards working opportunities and conditions. These objectively and reasonably justified a distinction as to the age of retirement: (i) Women had fewer opportunities to work as self-employed persons and as a result had lower pension entitlements as these were based on the length of career and women generally had shorter careers; (ii) To balance this inequality, a younger retirement age had been attributed to women and a pension reduction applied to men who retired before their normal retirement age of 65; (iii) It would take time to redress the low level of opportunities for women in the self-employment sector, so only a progressive abolition of the retirement age difference could be appropriate. This in turn would bring Belgium, an EU Member State, into line with EU regulations and case law on this topic.
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