New study examines issues relating to gender and trade

Posted by ap507 at Aug 08, 2016 12:02 PM |
Researcher from University of Leicester examines impact of Directive that applies the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sex to the use and supply of goods and services

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 8 August 2016

Listen to an interview with Dr Eugenia Caracciolo di Torella from the Leicester Law School here:

Dr Eugenia Caracciolo di Torella from the Leicester Law School at the University of Leicester was asked by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) to write a research paper on the application of the principle of sex equality outside the workplace.

She has examined the impact of Directive 2004/113 that applies the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of sex in the access to and supply of goods and services. The research paper was presented to the European Parliament FEMM Committee on 12 July and fed into a debate leading to the Parliament’s report on the issue.

She said: “The Directive became well-known in the UK following the Test Achats ruling of the European Court of Justice. It applies to insurance companies: as a result women now pay more for their car insurance as it became illegal to base their premium on their gender.  However, they now also pay less for life insurance, an area where the principle was often applied that “women must pay more because they live longer”.

“Apart from insurance the Directive also applies to a vast range of cases. These could be if a woman is refused a mortgage or a bank loan because she is pregnant and therefore it is assumed she will not be able to work and repay it, or to cases where a woman is harassed because she breastfeeds in public.

“It might also apply to cases where a pink razor costs more than a black one or when a hairdresser charges more than a barber.”

In her research, co-authored with Bridgette MacLellan from the University of Canterbury, NZ, Dr Caracciolo takes stock of how, after more than a decade, the Directive has been implemented and to what extent it has affected the EU and the Member States’ sex equality framework.

The study probes whether it has deepened or improved the application of the principle of sex equality across the Member States.

Dr Caracciolo argues there are specific areas that were not contemplated at the time of drafting the Directive but now need to be addressed: collaborative economy being the most important example. 

She said: “Collaborative economy refers to a relatively new but rapidly expanding business model where activities are facilitated by online collaborative platforms that create an open market place for the temporary use of goods and services. It involves three key actors, namely the service providers, the users and the intermediaries that connect providers with users. 

“Often provided and used by private individuals, it essentially involves borrowing or using assets owned by someone else.  These assets can include vehicles, tools, food, a ride from A to B, short-term home swaps or renting in someone's private home.  But can a provider refuse to rent a room to a woman?  Ultimately, who is responsible if something go wrong?”

The research paper makes two main suggestions: first, the European Commission should apply the principle of sex equality when regulating the collaborative economy and second it calls for a new comprehensive report by the European Equality Law Network of experts on the implementation of Directive 2004/113/EC.

The paper (Miscellaneous - 2016-06-30 - SoE2017) is available

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For more information, please email Dr Caracciolo:


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