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Secretary General calls for better protection of social rights in times of austerity

Strasbourg , 

New findings show numerous violations of the European Social Charter across 38 countries

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has urged European governments and international organisations to pay greater attention to social and economic rights when implementing austerity measures.

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will tomorrow publish its annual conclusions for 2013 showing some 180 violations of the European Social Charter, a social and economic counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights, across 38 Council of Europe member states. According to the ECSR, the increase in violations of the charter is increasingly linked to inadequate levels of social benefits – disproportionately affecting the poor, the unemployed, the elderly and the sick – and to unequal treatment of migrants under the guise of combating "benefit tourism".

The Secretary General said: "The need to protect everyday rights for workers and non-working people is a core European value which becomes all the more important when times are tough. However, the information to be published shows that the economic crisis and austerity policies have clearly had a negative impact on social and economic rights across Europe. Benefits are being restricted and people moving between countries to live or find work are often being unfairly treated".

"All Council of Europe member states should ratify the latest version of the European Social Charter and also sign up to the complaints mechanism which helps to make sure it is put into practice. Furthermore, international organisations – including the European Union – must take individual countries' obligations under the charter into account when discussing austerity measures." (more...)