The Court of Justice and Childcare: Connexion between the Structure of Decision-Making at the CJEU and the Evolution of its Jurisprudence on Equal Care.

The CJEU case-law on childcare spans decades from Commission v Italy 1983 to the recent Syndicat CFTC, preceding EU legislation on maternity and parental leave. The case-law has over time been lauded from advocating equal care and criticised as stereotyping mothers as primary carers, for example by early on establishing protection of a vague “special relationship between mother and child” as an exception to its gender equality case-law. Shifts in the evolution of this case-law have not been the result of legislative changes. This contribution looks at structural factors in the decision-making progress, instead, to explain divergence and convergence between cases. If judges have divergent legal perspectives on gender equality, can features such as allocation of the Judge-Rapporteur or use of the chamber system help to create convergence around existing jurisprudence, or to initiate change? Does its consensual decision-making make it easier or more difficult to stabilise case-law?