Research Handbook on European Social Security Law
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Research Handbook on European Social Security Law

Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk

This Handbook encompasses four dimensions of European social security law: social security as a human right, standard setting in social security, the protection of mobile persons and migrants and the global context of European social security law. It pays attention to both EU law and to various instruments of the Council of Europe. In 25 chapters prominent experts analyse contemporary debates, discuss new challenges and point out further lines of research. Through this exploration, the Handbook provides a source of inspiration for the development of this special field of law.
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Chapter 10: Equal treatment: The EU approach

Susanne Burri


Equal treatment is a multifaceted and multi-layered concept, in particular in EU law. EU equal treatment legislation and case law is extensive and complicated, in particular in the field of social security. EU equal treatment law has developed since 1957, with the first provision on equal pay between men and women and a prohibition of discrimination based on nationality in the EEC Treaty. Nowadays, the principle of equal treatment is enshrined in many Treaty provisions (both in the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)), in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and in diverse directives. Member States have in addition their own national legal systems, with often an important role for their Constitution in addition to Labour Code provisions and specific sex equality and/or anti-discrimination Acts. They also have obligations based on international treaties, in particular UN and ILO Treaties. The accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights raises even more questions on the interplay between the Court of Justice of the EU (hereafter: Court of Justice or Court) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The European Social Charter (ESC) is also relevant. At the core of all these legal instruments and their interpretation by courts and supervisory committees are different conceptualisations of the principle of equality.

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