New AIAS working paper:Positive Action in EU Gender Equality Law: Promoting More Women in Corporate Decision Making?

By Dr. Nuria Elena Ramos Martín



Equality is a broad and complex concept with various meanings (equal treatment, equal opportunities, formal equality, and substantive or de facto equality). Although there are strong similarities in the definition of key concepts related to equality, the EU and other international organisation have interpreted and applied
them differently. The way the concept of positive action, as an expression of the principle of de facto equality, has been understood by these institutions has led to a certain degree of uncertainty and methodological confusion. Similarly, despite the undeniable degree of harmonization that the EU legal framework
on this field provides, still key notions of equality law, among them, the term positive action, are defined and applied differently in the various legal systems of the EU Member States. In the first place, this paper provides a comparative legal analysis of the concept of equality. In the second place, attention is paid to the
notion of positive action in EU law and, in particular, in the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU. This paper includes an analysis of the interpretative value of that case law to provide guidance for the adoption of positive action measures and the possible clashes with the international and national contexts. Finally,
attention is paid to the recent actions adopted by the European Commission to promote gender balance in decision-making positions.

Gender Equality Law; facto equality; the EU; legal systems; positive actions; decision-making positions; the European Commission

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