Why are millions of Europeans willing to support nationalist, xenophobic and anti-democratic forces, sending shockwaves through our political systems,” asked Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, in her opening speech to a conference on social rights in Europe.
The conference in Nicosia, Cyprus – an event organized under the Cypriot chairmanship of the organisation – focuses on the support that domestic and international courts can provide for social rights in Europe.
“Many Europeans feel let down,” added the Deputy Secretary General. “High numbers live with unemployment, widening inequality, prolonged austerity, badly managed migration, housing shortages and poor public services. They are terribly tired of political promises which fail to deliver change.”
Over 130 participants, mainly legal professionals and academics, are assessing case law of the European Court of Human Rights and EU’s Court of Justice, and of domestic jurisdictions. Judges and experts are focusing on constitutional issues, employment and social security rights.
To reduce frustration, the conference goal is to make better use of the Council of Europe’s Social Charter, a treaty that guarantees social and economic rights – and a broad range of everyday human rights related to employment, housing, health, education, social protection and welfare. A focus is to inform NGOs, civil society and government authorities throughout Europe of the charter’s Collective Complaints Procedure and its advantages.
“We are doing everything we can to embed our Charter more deeply into the national fabrics of our member states, and to ensure that these rights are not simply promised in name, but are delivered in practice,” said the Deputy Secretary General.