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  • Author or Editor: Sophie Jacquot x
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Although equal pay for equal work between women and men is a founding principle of the European Union, enshrined in the Treaties since 1957, the gender pay gap stands at 12.7 per cent in 2021 and has only changed minimally for two decades. This article explores a policymaking paradox: the EU equal pay policy seems unaffected by failure, on the contrary, failure seems to contribute to the legitimisation of the policy. The article asks how and why a policy implementation failure framing has been developed in the field of EU equal pay promotion? What is the political function of this framing and what is its impact on the EU policymaking process? Over the years, the EU equal pay policy has been associated with a repeated experience of implementation failure. This failure framing has been particularly present in the debates over the implementation of the 2006 Recast Directive, especially since this frame has been impelled by the quantitative and symbolic strength of the gender pay gap’s percentage. The article shows that this framing performed important functions. From a policymaking perspective, the implementation failure framing allowed the gender equality policy community to keep the issue firmly on the EU agenda and to ride out the dismantling storm. The article also shows that the analytical definition of what constitutes a policy failure should be more nuanced. To conclude, the article asks if this type of failure framing can continue to produce results in an increasingly polarised context such as that of gender equality.

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This article analyses Eurobarometer surveys as fully fledged instruments of the European gender equality policy since its emergence in the 1970s up until 2018. These surveys bring new data that allow for reanalysing the history of the gender equality policy, focusing on how public opinion is of interest to policymakers and how they use the results of these polls. The article shows that Eurobarometer surveys and the appeal to the ‘voice of the citizens’ have always had a legitimising function for gender equality, but that the purposes of this legitimisation have changed over time. Recently, in a context of low citizen support for the European Union political system, surveys have been integrated into the day-to-day routine of gender equality policymaking; however, they are also used by the European Parliament to reassert the shared values of the European Union.

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