Eighteen years of the race equality directive: a mitigated balance

As opposed to what was feared or hoped before its implementation, the Race Equality Directive did not lead to an important amount of case law and falls short of challenging widespread racism in many domains that are isolated from constitutional equality provisions. This contribution maps the successes of this instrument by considering the positive attributes of its text, the expansive interpretations that the CJEU has given it, and national case law. Secondly, it will analyze its failures by looking at general limitations, then at the CJEU’s restrictive interpretations, and finally at some problematic interpretations at the national level. Lastly, an attempt to identify potential areas to which EU law applies (such as family reunification and headscarf bans), and in which this instrument could and should be invoked, will be conducted. To conclude, despite encouraging case law, the Directive will be seen as not yet having addressed the structural issues of racism in Europe.