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The decision on the merits of the complaint Equal Rights Trust v. Bulgaria, No. 121/2016, is now public

Strasbourg 27/03/2019
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The decision on the merits of the complaint Equal Rights Trust v. Bulgaria, No. 121/2016, is now public

The decision of the European Committee of Social Rights on the merits of the complaint Equal Rights Trust v. Bulgaria (No. 121/2016) became public on 27 March 2019.

In its complaint ERT alleged that the situation in Bulgaria is in violation of Articles 12§3 (right to social security), 16 (right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection for the family), and 17§2 (right of children and young persons to appropriate social, legal and economic protection), as well as Article E (non-discrimination) of the Revised European Social Charter in conjunction with each of these articles, on the ground that the Family Allowances for Children Act, as amended on 28 July 2015, provides that:

  • monthly family allowances can only be paid in-kind rather than in cash, if the qualifying parent is a minor;
  • monthly family allowances is suspended or terminates where the child stops attending school, and is thereafter stopped for a minimum period of one year, even if the child returns to school;
  • monthly family allowances terminate where the child becomes him or herself a parent.

Moreover, ERT complained that these provisions are racially discriminatory, in that the Roma community is much more likely than other ethnic groups to be adversely affected, as well as discriminatory against women.

The European Committee of Social Rights adopted its decision on the merits on 16 October 2018.

In its decision on the merits, the Committee concluded:

  • unanimously, that there is no violation of Article 16 of the Charter concerning the in-kind instead of cash payments of the family allowances imposed when the qualifying parent is under 18 years old;
  • unanimously, that there is a violation of Article 16 of the Charter concerning the suspension or the termination of the family allowances when the child stops attending school;
  • by 12 votes to one, that there is a violation of Article 16 of the Charter concerning the termination of the family allowances when the minor becomes a parent;
  • by 12 votes to one, that there is no violation of Article E in conjunction with Article 16 of the Charter concerning the discrimination based on age because of the mandatory in-kind payments of the family allowances;
  • by 12 votes to one, that there is a violation of Article E in conjunction with Article 16 of the Charter concerning the discrimination against Roma, and particularly towards Roma female minors.

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