The European Commission’s European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality

Established in 1984, the European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality consists of 33 independent national legal experts who work as academics, lawyers, or with non-governmental organisations, in the field of gender equality. One national expert represents each EU Member State and EFTA country, alongside one expert each for Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. An executive committee composed of four highly qualified experts helps to enhance the quality of the Network’s publications. The main task of the Network is to assist the European Commission in its work in gender equality.

The Utrecht School of Law at Utrecht University is responsible for the coordination of the Network. Dr. Susanne Burri (senior lecturer, Gender and Law) acts as both coordinator and as a member of the executive committee, and Ms. Alyssa Bos (LL.M., junior lecturer, Institute of European Law) acts as assistant coordinator. Ms. Alice Welland (LL.M.) is responsible for organisational matters. Professor Christopher McCrudden (Queen’s University Belfast and Visiting Professor Oxford University), Professor Linda Senden (Utrecht University) and Maître Hélène Masse-Dessen (Barrister at the Conseil d’État and Cour de Cassation of France) are also members of the executive committee.

The Network provides the European Commission with information on the Member States’ progress in implementing European instruments and national initiatives in the field of gender equality law. In addition, the Commission is regularly informed of all relevant developments in the 33 countries of the Network. The national experts help the Commission to assess these developments, and the compatibility of national law with Community law requirements. In procedures brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union under Article 267 TFEU, the Network may be very helpful in providing the Commission with comparative legal materials. The Network also assists the Commission in monitoring the national follow-up up given to the judgments of the Court, in both infringement and preliminary proceedings.

The Commission may consult the Network before developing legal and policy initiatives. Legal experts can provide the Commission with commentary on policy documents, and with legal data necessary for both general comparison and the preparation of new Community instruments. The Commission can also use the Network as a ‘think-tank’ or as a sounding board for new strategies and ideas.

The Network is a source of information for the public on the development of European equality law, at both EU level and within the participating countries. To this end, the Network publishes a number of thematic reports. Issues previously covered include the implementation of gender equality directives; indirect sex discrimination; pregnancy, maternity and parenthood discrimination; the personal scope of EU sex equality directives; multiple discrimination; different concepts of discrimination/equality; and the role of proactive measures.

The Gender Network also bi-annually produces the European Gender Equality Law Review, in English, French, and German. The electronic versions are available on the website of the European Commission, and  the English version is printed and distributed to equality bodies, NGOs, lawyers, and other interested parties. In addition to these publications, the Network also answers specific questions of the Commission, regarding for example the differences in pensionable age between men and women.

All publications of the Network are in English, and aside from the Law Review a number of reports are also translated into French and German. Each publication provides an overview of the national experts and the members of the executive committee.

Most publications of the Network are published on the website of the European Commission and at EU Bookshop.

For more information please contact:, or see the website of the Network.