Review of European Administrative Law (REALaw)

In search of an EU approach to headscarf bans: where to go after Achbita and Bougnaoui?

Titia Loenen

The wearing of a headscarf at work is a contested issue in many European countries and the legal approach towards headscarf bans varies greatly. So far, the European Court of Human Rights seems to have given its blessing to widely diverging approaches by granting the national authorities a wide margin of appreciation in regulating this matter. More recently the Court of Justice of the EU was also confronted with this issue in the cases Achbita and Bougnaoui. However, the resulting preliminary rulings are formulated in such a terse and minimally motivated way as to generate confusion rather than provide clear guidance to the member states. This contribution seeks to explore the space left by the two judgments for further interpretation of the relevant EU standards and to discuss the different ways in which the CJEU could proceed in future cases, taking also into account the case law of the Strasbourg Court and the diverging approaches in the member states.

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