The European Union: Initiator of a New European Anti-Discrimination Regime?

  • Johanna Kantola
  • Kevät Nousiainen
Part of the Gender and Politics series book series (GAP)


The key aim of this chapter is to explore the possibilities and constraints that the complex setting of the European equality regime poses for ‘institutionalizing intersectionality’. That the EU has an impact on national equality law and policies is beyond question, but a study of various EU power instruments, institutions, and political actors is needed for a better understanding of the workings and the outcomes of the process. We pay attention especially to the complexity of EU equality law and policies, which involve multiple dimensions of equality and more or less compelling means of influencing the member states. We also show how intersectionality figures in these instruments, institutions, and policies of EU influence. We claim that the mandatory EU anti-discrimination law has compelled member states to adopt a minimum regulation of combating discrimination on several ‘status’ grounds. However, explicit statements on combating intersectional discrimination are located in soft law instruments or in policy programmes. Such instruments do not aim at a complete harmonization of equality law and policies, but rather promote convergence by methods that rely on national and ‘stakeholder’ processes. The ‘soft’ approach, we assume, allows differentiation within the EU and at the national level. Here diversity of traditions and policies becomes important.


Member State Gender Equality Positive Action Equality Body Positive Duty 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Kantola
  • Kevät Nousiainen

There are no affiliations available

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