Skip to main content

European Equality Law Network

European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination

2017 Seminar – Women on Boards, Religious clothing and symbols in employment, Enforcement of anti-discrimination law regarding Roma, Equality Data Collection, 2017 European Commission proposal work-life balance

On 1 December 2017 the annual legal seminar of the European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination (EELN) took place. The seminar brought together 160 representatives of the European Commission, EU Member States governments, Equality Bodies, EU umbrella organisations, academics from across Europe, as well as members of the network itself.

The seminar started with a presentation of Irena Moozova, director for Equality and Union Citizenship of DG Justice and Consumers of the European Commission, who highlighted several recent Commission initiatives, among others the 2017 proposal from the Commission on work-life balance, the continued attention for equal pay for equal work and the protection of Roma against discrimination, issues for with the network provides inputs on a regular basis.

The keynote address was this year delivered by Olivier De Schutter, professor at the Catholic University of Louvain. Professor De Schutter elaborated the question whether EU anti-discrimination law is a useful tool to counter discrimination in the (labour) market. He illustrated with a review of literature and recent case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU that anti-discrimination law may be helpful to counter the effects of negative stereotyping, to support investment in employees and to generate support for redistributive welfare policies, but that there are limits as well.

Powerpoint Olivier De Schutter (PDF 10.241 kB)

The workshops of this year’s seminar covered the most prominent topics addressed by the EELN during its third year as joined gender and non-discrimination network.

Workshop – update of European case law

The workshop discussed recent developments in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’) and the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’). The workshop focussed on the most important judgments of last year in the field of non-discrimination and equality.

Summary CJEU cases Christa Tobler (PDF 333 kB)
Powerpoint Christa Tobler Workshop Update EU case law PDF (3.510 kB)
Summary EctHR cases Janneke Gerards PDF (1004 kB)
Powerpoint Janneke Gerards Workshop Update EU case law PDF (550 kB)

Workshop – Women on Boards

In November 2012 the European Commission put forward a proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures (the Gender-Balanced Boards (GBB) Directive).

The speakers in the workshop have conducted a study, with input from the network’s national gender equality experts, into the regulatory approaches of the Member States to enhance gender-balanced company boards and the monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. What rules, enforcement measures and policies have been put into place and with what effects?

The workshop discussed the ins- and outs and challenges of the proposal for a Directive in view of the findings of the study that will shortly be published as thematic report written on behalf of the network.

Powerpoint Linda Senden and Sonja Kruisinga Women on boards PDF (1.375 kB)

Workshop – Religious clothing and symbols in employment

In many Member States, issues have arisen in the past years about the wearing of religious clothing (e.g. headscarves) and symbols (e.g. visible crosses) at work and whether this practice may be prohibited by employers. The issue was recently brought before the CJEU, which delivered the landmark judgments in the Achbita and Bougnaoui cases in March 2017.

The workshop discussed and evaluated national legislation, practice and case-law regarding allowing or banning the wearing of religious clothing and symbols at work, based on a study of the speaker with inputs from the non-discrimination experts of the network. The framework for the discussion was EU legislation, notably the Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC and CJEU case law, but references to ECtHR case-law was also made. The study will shortly be published as thematic report written on behalf of the network.

Powerpoint Erica Howard Religious clothing and symbols in employment PDF (568 kB)
Powerpoint Stéphanie Hennette-Vauchez Religious clothing and symbols in employment PDF (316 kB)

Workshop - Situation of enforcement of anti-discrimination law regarding Roma

The Racial Equality and Employment Equality Directives have been fully transposed in all EU Member States.  National legislation transposing them is being actively and effectively implemented to a large extent throughout the EU. Yet, it appears that the Roma population of Europe is not benefitting equally from the non-discrimination legal frameworks.

Based on a recently published synthesis (see publications, thematic reports) of the findings of research by the national experts of the network, the workshop discussed the current situation of enforcement of Roma’s non-discrimination rights in Europe and the challenges that remain to improve the situation.

Powerpoint Csaba Asztalos Workshop Situation of enforcement of anti-discrimination law regarding Roma PDF (361 kB)

Workshop – Equality Data Collection

Solid data relating to equality and discrimination enhances our understanding on both the extent to which discrimination affects our everyday life and how best to tackle it and underpins the implementation of legislation to combat discrimination and promote equality, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of such legislation.

The workshop discussed the achievements in development of data collection practices and mechanisms, the challenges in current equality data collection and how data collection can be improved across the EU and the Member States, using among others information gathered in the framework of the EU Handbook on Equality Data collection – 2016 revision. In addition to that, the workshop was presented with an overview of the efforts of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in the field of data collections through its major surveys and other data collection initiatives.

Powerpoint Katayoun Alidada Workshop Equality data collection (PDF 547 kB)
Powerpoint Pablo-Lopez Pietsch and Ursula Till-Tenschert Workshop Equality data collection PDF (1.415 kB)

Workshop – Work-Life Balance

The European Commission adopted in April 2017 a proposal for a directive on work-life balance for parents and carers (repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU). The Directive is accompanied by a Communication consisting of non-legislative actions which complement and reinforce the legislative actions, for example in the area of dismissal protection, child- and elderly care or tax-benefit disincentives. The aim is to address women's underrepresentation in the labour market and encourage a better sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men.

The workshop discussed the Commission proposal, in light of the upcoming negotiations in the Council. The workshop participants gave feedback on the proposal from a national law perspective and experiences in the EU Member States with current work-life balance arrangements. Particular attention was given to take-up and incentives for men with regard to family related leaves and flexible working arrangements.

Powerpoint Fabian Luetz and Miguel de la Corte Workshop Work-Life Balance (PDF 891 kB)
Powerpoint Sophie Latraverse Workshop Work-Life Balance (PDF 561 kB)
Powerpoint Jenny Julen Votinius Workshop Work-Life Balance (PDF 844 kB)

Go to the website of Utrecht University
Go to the website of the Migration Policy Group

Order European equality law review

Click here to order publications