Special Section: 'EU and ECHR: Conflict or Harmony?'

Towards More Synergy in the Interpretation of the Prohibition of Sex Discrimination in European Law?
A Comparison of Legal Contexts and some Case Law of the EU and the ECHR



The non-discrimination provisions in EU law and in the ECHR have a different background and the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Human Rights have differing roles. However, in both European systems the prohibition of discrimination has become of increasing importance: EU law now covers more discrimination grounds, the scope of both EU law and the ECHR non-discrimination provisions has expanded and, in particular in the field of gender equality, there is an impressive body of - in particular EU - case law. National courts are confronted with issues that fall either under the ECHR or the EU provisions or both. Sometimes similar questions are interpreted by both European courts, for example in case of overlapping subject-matters, such as sex discrimination in the field of pensions, social security benefits or parental leave. The paper offers an analysis of the legal contexts and case law of both European systems in some areas that overlap and the main similarities and differences in approaches to sex equality in both systems. The comparison shows that while the ECtHR sometimes allows a gradual abolition of forms of direct sex discrimination, the approach of the Court of Justice is much stricter.


equalitynon-discriminationsex equalitygender equalityEU lawECHR law
  • Page/Article: 80-103
  • DOI: 10.18352/ulr.215
  • Published on 31 Jan 2013
  • Peer Reviewed