Equality and Social Justice

This project seeks to bring together researchers working on issues related to discrimination and equality. It is an open project, so everyone is welcome to join. Researchers working on the intersection of multiple disciplines would also be encouraged to join the project, for example studying the legal principles of non-discrimination and equality from an empirical or a historical perspective.

Project Description

Non-discrimination and equality are general principles of EU law. They have played a foundational role, starting with the creation of the internal market (Article 7 EEC) and in particular the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of nationality in the freedom of movement (Article 48 EEC) and the right to equal pay for equal work between men and women (Article 119 EEC). From these early beginnings, non-discrimination and equality have developed into key principles underpinning various areas of EU law, including freedom of movement; consumer protection law; labour law; immigration and asylum law; fundamental rights law; and criminal law. At the same time, equality and non-discrimination has also evolved into a separate field of EU law, primarily concerned with gender equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of race/ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, and religion.

The EU principles of non-discrimination and equality exist in a multi-level legal order, which includes national law as well as international law (e.g. ILO Conventions), UN human rights treaties (e.g. the Women’s Rights Convention and the Disability Convention), and Council of Europe human rights law (the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter).

This project seeks to bring together researchers working on issues related to discrimination and equality in diverse areas of law. The project raises questions such as:

  • How did the principles of non-discrimination and equality historically evolve in various EU policy domains?
  • How are non-discrimination and equality conceptualized in these areas? What are the conceptual developments, challenges, and achievements? To what extent is equality interpreted not just formally, but also substantively or even transformatively?
  • How are non-discrimination and equality operationalized in regulation in different policy domains?
  • What enforcement regimes or arrangements relating to these principles have been put into place and what particular issues may these present?

By investigating the development of the non-discrimination and equality principles across different EU policy domains and across different jurisdictions, this project seeks to determine how these principles have evolved as core values of EU law in a multi-level setting and what lessons can be learnt from the various policy domains as regards their effective enforcement as well as determining what conceptual insights Courts and other actors might borrow from each other.

As such, this project aligns very well with the core question of RENFORCE, as to how public tasks and policy objectives in the Social market economy and in the Area of freedom, security and justice can be best realized in the setting of a shared European, national and international legal order; what regulatory and enforcement approaches can best safeguard the core values of non-discrimination and equality?


  • Tina Stavrinaki
  • Albertine Veldman
  • Susanne Heeger
  • Linda Senden
  • Birte Book
  • Hanneke van Eijken
  • Salvo Nicolosi
  • Veronika Nagy
  • Vassilis Gerasopoulos
  • Frans Pennings