The introduction of equal opportunities legislation on behalf of working women throughout the European Community (EC) during the 1970s was a direct consequence of EC-level judicial and legislative activity. Whereas in other areas, discussed elsewhere in this volume, established, national policies have become progressively ‘Europeanised’, the EC was a major catalyst in the generation and extension of national sex equality laws to protect the rights of working women. In short, the EU delivered a ‘shock’ to national policy systems and helped to create a new policy area at the national level. The origins of these policies lie, however, in the activities of second-wave feminism during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Feminist ideas, values and policy demands constituted a major, new challenge to long-established, cultural attitudes and traditions regarding the socio-economic and political status of women. European feminists were therefore key members of a new ‘advocacy coalition’ (Sabatier 1988), which emerged during the 1970s and which sought, and continues to seek, to ‘reframe’ (Rein and Schön 1991) the way in which policy issues and problems which affect women are addressed by governments. In particular, women have sought to persuade policy makers of the need to address the socio-political causes of sex discrimination against women.