The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, made public her proposals (SG/Inf(2021)13) for improving the implementation of social rights in Europe by reinforcing the European Social Charter system.
Improving the implementation of social rights in Europe and reinforcing the European Social Charter system to this end has been a longstanding Council of Europe objective. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this process highlighting the need to reinforce social rights and their effective protection as part of the overall system of collective guarantees for human rights protection in Europe. The ongoing economic slowdown will bring additional pressure to bear on scarce resources, not only for the realisation of social rights but also to prevent their rollback.
The proposals set out in the document draw inspiration from a range of sources, in particular: the Committee of Ministers’ decisions; proposals made collectively by member states’ human rights experts in the 2019 report of the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH); proposals made by the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) and a statement by the Governmental Committee of the European Social Charter and European Code of Social Security (GC). More recently, the Secretary General appointed a High-Level Group of Experts on Social Rights (Group of Experts), which submitted its report to the Secretary General in March with several proposals which have also been taken into account in the present document.
The Secretary General’s proposals have three main strands:
- the political support needed to improve the Council of Europe’s contribution to the implementation of social rights in Europe;
- improvements to the procedures established under the European Social Charter and processes that might be engaged to enhance the efficiency and impact of the Charter; and
- forward-looking substantive and procedural developments that require more detailed consideration by Council of Europe member states and by the parties to the Charter.