Men and women have to be treated equally in the EU. It is a fundamental principle of the Union developed by the European Court and now supported by the treaties. The Court has also outlawed certain national rules allowing special positive treatment for women.
The Lisbon Treaty has "equality" as a value of the Union, see Article 2 TEU. Equality between women and men is mentioned in the second sentence. Many female representatives in the Convention wanted to see that principle in the more important first sentence defining the founding values of the Union. They did not succeed.
- The principle of equality is laid down in Arts. 2 and 3 TEU and Article 8 TFEU in the Lisbon Treaty.
- The treaties further prohibit any discrimination on grounds of nationality according to Article 18 TFEU.
- EU measures to combat all kinds of discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientations can be based on Article 19 TFEU of the Lisbon Treaty.
- The requirement for equal treatment of women and men as regards salaries, pensions, work conditions, promotion prospects etc. is based on Article 157 TFEU in the Lisbon Treaty. The requirement fo equal pay has direct effect for European citizens.
- Implementing measures for equal pay may be decided in co-decision where the European Parliament can propose amendments and reject a law according to the the Lisbon Treaty Article 157,3 TFEU.
- The treaties allow member states to adopt specific advantages in order to make it easier for the under-represented sex to pursue a vocational activity, see Article 157,4 TFEU in the Lisbon Treaty.
According to a judgment of the EU Court, an employer must prove that he or she is not discriminating against women in cases where women are doing similar work to men but receiving lower salaries (case 109/88).
See also Discrimination.