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The Legal Experts: Using, Resisting or Undergoing the Transformation of the EU Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Policy?

Gender
Policy Analysis
Public Policy
Qualitative
Policy Change
Political Activism
LGBTQI
Sophie Jacquot
Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles
Sophie Jacquot
Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles

Abstract

The starting point of this paper lies with the establishment, in December 2014, of the European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination. This new network, which contractually “informs” the European Commission on legal developments at the national level, is the result of the combination of two previous networks (dating back from 1983 for gender equality and 2004 for non-discrimination). The establishment of this new unified network of legal experts takes place, at the EU level, in the double context of a process of judicialization of minority rights issues on the one side, and of a profound transformation of the gender equality and anti-discrimination policies on the other side. Consequently, this paper will examine this apparently strictly organisational change and argue that, far from being “just” a rationalising decision, the new combined network reveals a changing conception of legal expertise and of its role in these fields. Building on qualitative methodology and sources, this paper will analyse the transformation of the definition of legal expertise and how the change from a political to an instrumental conception has implied a destabilisation of the entire policy sector. The first part of the paper will focus on the policy level and show how the handling of external legal expertise has to do with the challenged legitimacy and the dissolution of the policy communities of the gender equality and anti-discrimination policies. The second part of the paper will focus on the legal experts themselves. In a policy field where these actors have for a long time considered their role as participating to the promotion of minority rights through legal mobilisation, it will be interesting to explore the transformations and tensions induced by this change, both internally within the new unified network and externally in relation with its environment.