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Equality without borders? The protection of individuals against EU equality law

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Does EU equality law limit economic freedoms?

EU equality law may be developing too quickly. A European project explored the impact the law has on economic freedoms.

Climate Change and Environment

The EU equality law is designed to support the Europe 2020 Strategy to raise employment levels throughout the continent to 75 %. It is also designed to prohibit discrimination in the labour market on the grounds of gender, race, age and disability. An EU-funded project called 'Equality without borders? The protection of individuals against EU equality laws' (EQWIBO) says this target can only be reached if women, youth and older workers have increased participation in the labour market. However, EU equality law may be developing too quickly and it has not been examined well enough by policymakers. In fact, the law may prohibit decision makers from making strategic choices, such as having a recruitment policy focusing on youth. The equality law has been criticised for this point, which can be accounted for by the way the law has developed. EU equality law has been enhanced by the European Court of Justice's resolution of disputes between private parties. The rulings did not provide clear explanations for its approach, leading to uncertainty. Some inherent aspects of EU equality law make its impact on private parties particularly noticeable. Notably, EU equality law was initially meant to constrain public parties, but it has developed to impact employer practices in the social and private spheres. The transformative property of EU equality law will develop along with EU integration. A result, EU equality law must be further researched to minimise any negative effects resulting from its rapid expansion.


Equality law, economic freedom, employment, discrimination, labour market

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