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When the Commission revisits the Charter of Social Rights

(BRUSSELS2) Singular intervention today at the midday briefing, the usual meeting of the press and the service of the spokesperson of the Commission, Simon O'connor, the spokesperson for Olli Rehn, in charge of Economic Affairs and financial institutions, made a remarkable intervention on compliance by community institutions with the provisions of the 1989 charter of social rights.

For him, " The Social Charter is not part of the acquis communautaire but (must be seen) as an inspiration ". Before detailing that the program developed by the Commission on Greece: “ aims to improve the dynamism of this labor market, to create the conditions for a sustainable increase in employment, to create a labor market that is more inclusive”.

In doing so, he does not answer the question clearly asked by a French colleague (Lci/Tf1): what about the application of the decision of the social rights committee which provides for a minimum level for pensions and a minimum duration of notice . His colleague Olivier Bailly will therefore take over to clarify three points quite clearly:

  • « Since the Treaty of Lisbon (exist) very strong bridges between Community law and Council of Europe law ". But this does not mean conformity of one to the other. When the Treaty of Lisbon mentions that the EU “ is inspired » of the charter of social rights, the word is inspired is not chosen at random. (This) does not mean copying or integrating the social order.” (*)
  • "TheEU action we are taking in Greece is in line with EU law »
  • It is up to the Council of Europe to carry out its procedure according to its own rules, he then confirms. “ We will not make this recommendation to the Commission because we do not have the legal authority and we are in the process of negotiating. » (…) « We act to boost employment in Greece, in accordance with Community law. »

To listen to this exchange, it’s here. (It can be noted that at no time was the spokesperson for Commissioner Andor, responsible for Employment and Social Affairs, called “to the stand”…)

On the European Social Charter and the decision made public on October 19, it is leaves

(*) We can have another reading of the hierarchy of the two European legal orders (EU and Council of Europe). Because on the one hand the Court of Justice of the EU has recognized much more than a “inspiration” to the 1961 Charter of Social Rights of the Council of Europe. Then the EU itself dedicated this whole place in the Charter of Fundamental Rights which specifies that “This Charter reaffirms, while respecting the competences and tasks of the Union, as well as the principle of subsidiarity, the rights which result in particular (…) from the Social Charters adopted by the Union and by the Council of Europe”. A text which had, at the time, caused a lot of ink to be spilled and triggered the opt-out of the British and Czechs who did not want to see these social texts given legal force in their courts.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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