The gender pay gap in Italy: a history of the implementation of EU law


In 1948, the newly established Italian Republic promulgated its Constitution, whose Article 37, first paragraph, enshrined that working women were entitled to equal rights and, for comparable jobs, equal pay as men. This article was both the result of a compromise between different political forces and the culmination of years of struggle by women's groups, particularly during the Resistance in the early 1940s. Some twenty years later, in 1957, the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC), enshrined in its Article 119 the principle of equal pay for men and women for equal work or work of equal value. As Italy was one of the founding members of the EEC, this meant that the national legal system was enriched with a supranational source on equal pay.

Based on the analysis of these two articles, this project will first examine the socio-cultural and legal background of the drafting process of Article 37 in order to identify the political actors and the motivation behind the early introduction of equal pay legislation in Italy, especially in comparison with the other Member States. Secondly, it focuses on the genesis of Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome in order to understand how the EEC came to introduce equal pay, the main actors involved in its drafting and Italy's position in the negotiation process (given its almost twenty-year old legislation on the same subject).

The main aim of the project is to understand how the implementation of Community law has worked in the Italian national context, where legislation on the subject already existed. In doing so, the project adopts a two-directional approach by analysing, first, the extent to which Italy contributed to the drafting of Article 119 and, second, how Article 119 has been received in the national context.

In order to get a complete picture of the consequences of Community law and the next steps in the implementation of the principle of equal pay in Italy, attention will be paid both to the subsequent equal pay legislation and to the national collective agreements which, since the end of the 1950s, have progressively introduced equal pay in different sectors of the Italian workforce. The Italian context offers several interesting insights into the reception of EEC legislation and sheds light on the interplay between supranational and national regulations in shaping women's work. At the same time, the project offers a comprehensive picture of the main actors behind equal pay legislation in Italy, including a focus on the cultural, historical and social climate in which such norms were designed. Finally, the project focuses on the EEC Equal Pay and Equal Treatment Directives and the first cases brought before the Court of Justice of the European Communities (CJEC, since 2009 CJEU, Court of Justice of the European Union) in the 1970s.

The project seeks to reconstruct the history of the principle of equal pay in Italy within the broader context of the history of labour law of the European Union. Finally, by providing an overview of equal pay legislation in Italy from the 1948 Constitution to the most recent EU Directives, this research will identify the legal and historical reasons for the persistence of the gender pay gap in Italy and the role of Community law in this.

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