EU age discrimination law: a curse or a blessing for EU youth policy?

The position of young persons in the labour market has been a concern of the EU since the 1950s. The attention to this group has resulted in a widespread field of policy actions. Characteristic of these initiatives is that they acknowledge the vulnerable position of young persons in society, particularly in the labour market. These initiatives identify young persons as a group for whom special measures need to be taken to correct their unequal position. As such, Member States are encouraged to adopt affirmative measures with regard to young persons. However, these measures are at odds with the EU's non-discrimination regulations, which are based on the idea of formal rather than substantive equality. Although the EU's age discrimination provision includes a margin for justifications, it is expected to have a limiting effect on the EU's Youth Policy. The aim of this contribution is to test this hypothesis.