Exchange of views between the European Committee of Social Rights and Mr Skouris, President of the Court of Justice of the European Union
At its 242nd session, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) held an exchange of views with the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Mr Vassilios Skouris in the presence of the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Jean-Paul Costa.
The discussion concerned in particular the links between the European Social Charter and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the role of the European Social Charter within the legal order of the European Union (Preamble of the Treaty on European Union and Article 151 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), the material influence of the case law of the ECSR on the interpretation of the EU Charter by the Court of Justice and the impact of EU legislation on the implementation of the European Social Charter by the States Parties.
Mr Skouris emphasised that although the European Social Charter (ESC) was rarely mentioned explicitly by the Court of Justice (ECJ), it was a source of inspiration to it. In fact ESC was often quoted by the advocates general and it could be noted that since 2006 the ESC had been quoted more frequently. He noted that the ECJ was generally reluctant to cite case law from other courts, including national supreme courts (with the exception of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights) but emphasised that this did not mean the ECJ did not have regard to case law from other jurisdictions.
He also recalled that indeed the ESC is explicitly mentioned in Article 151 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union.
It was agreed that there is a mutual interest in continuing to exchange information and views in order to ensure a better understanding and ensure consistency of case law. It was stated that currently much of the case law of the ECSR is unfortunately not very well known and perhaps not as accessible as it should be. However, it should be recognised that the ECSR has an unparalleled case law, although it is for a large part developed in the context of national reports. The collective complaints procedure has helped to clarify certain aspects of the case law and also make it more accessible. It offers a human rights approach to key social issues, that is its value for the ECJ (and for the ECHR).
It was agreed by all that there was a need to increase information/communication on the case law of the ECSR. One possible avenue that could be explored in the future was to see if the research units of the ECJ could include information on ESCR case law on a more systematic basis in their comparative law studies, as they already do for the ECHR.