This chapter provides an analysis of the evolving human rights and equality contexts within which the European Union (EU) equality and non-discrimination Directives were developed and continue to operate. Part I sets out a theoretical framework for considering the variety of differing conceptions of equality that we shall subsequently identify as operating in European equality and human rights law. We then trace how these differing approaches are seen in the differing areas of EU law in which equality features. Part II sets out the international, regional and domestic human rights law on equality and non-discrimination, which has played and will continue to play an important role in the development of EU human rights and equality law. In Part III we focus on human rights and equality in EU Law more specifically and place human rights in the context of EU values and objectives. The negotiations over treaty amendments between 2004 and 2007 played a vital part in shaping this role. A proposed new Constitutional Treaty bringing together the existing treaties failed to gain sufficient support. Instead, a European Council held in Brussels in June 2007 agreed a mandate for a somewhat less ambitious draft Reform Treaty, but incorporating many features of the proposed Constitutional Treaty, to be agreed by an Intergovernmental Council during 2007. In this context, we discuss the role of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the continuing evolution of rights in the Community legal order.