Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


Author: Amanda Sloat PhD

Title: Legislating for Equality:The Implementation of the EU Equality Acquis in Central and Eastern Europe


The most recent enlargement of the European Union, which incorporated post-communist countries from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), placed relatively little emphasis on the equal opportunities of men and women. However, acceding countries were required to implement Chapter 13 (‘Employment and social affairs’) of the acquis communautaire, which includes legislative provisions promoting gender equality in the workplace. This paper considers the extent to which the equality acquis has been transposed, implemented, and enforced in ten CEE countries. It begins by examining the pre-89 equality infrastructure, which provides a comparative basis for the paper’s substantive analysis of the implementation of the ten equality directives. In particular, it discusses the legal mechanisms used to implement the legislation, evaluates whether pre-89 provisions have been strengthened or weakened, and highlights remaining problems in harmonisation. Next, the paper evaluates awareness of the equality directives among women, employers and judges. It analyses the enforcement of these directives by labour inspectorates and ombudspersons, while also noting the limited case law. It then examines relations between CEE governments and both NGOs and trade unions, considering whether these bodies are promoting awareness and enforcement of the equality legislation. In conclusion, the paper argues that legislative harmonisation has legitimised women’s claim to genuine equality but has made only a marginal change in practice as women remain numerically weaker than men and hold less favourable positions in most areas.

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Last updated on October 24th, 2004

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