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European Equality Law Network

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

European legislation

The importance of European legislation for gender equality and non-discrimination at the national level can hardly be overestimated. For example, EU law requires (Article 157 TFEU) application of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between women and men. The broad interpretation of the concept of pay by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and its extensive case law on this article have certainly broadened the possibilities to combat both direct and indirect sex pay discrimination and to narrow the gender pay gap. Similarly, with regard to non-discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation, the importance of Article 19 TFEU must be underlined. This provision was included into the primary legislation of the Union so as to provide a legal basis for the adoption of directives imposing specifically the principle of non-discrimination with regard to these grounds. EU legislation prohibiting discrimination covers a broad personal and material scope by means of several directives, covering either the ground of sex, the ground of racial/ethnic origin, or the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. These directives all prohibit direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation, harassment and instructions to discriminate, and they provide for the possibility to maintain or adopt positive action measures to achieve full equality in practice.

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