Strengthening the protection of social rights in Europe is firmly rooted in the Council of Europe Statute’s “social progress” objective. The protection of social rights as guaranteed by the European Social Charter received a new impetus through the Turin Process which, in turn, paved the way for the current reform process.
In order to explore ways of increasing the effectiveness of the European Social Charter system, a working party, GT-CHARTE, was set up under the Committee of Ministers. After consulting a wide range of stakeholders (including the Parliamentary Assembly, the Secretary General, the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), the social partners and civil society), a first milestone of the reform process was reached with the adoption by the Committee of Ministers on 27 September 2022 of a reform package prepared by GT-CHARTE, the aim of which is to strengthen the European Social Charter system. In particular, it makes operational changes to the Charter’s reporting procedure (CM(2022)114-final). The reform is already being rolled out.
Following the proposal of GT-CHARTE, on 15 March 2023 the Committee of Ministers then adopted a document, that identifies the longer-term substantive and procedural issues that will need to be kept under review in future. The decisions adopted by the Committee of Ministers in connection with this report also list specific areas where further work should be pursued, including on promoting acceptance by States Parties of further commitments under the Charter and of the collective complaints procedure. New or evolving situations should be covered by existing Charter provisions through the European Committee of Social Rights' case law or new soft-law instruments where necessary.
The President of the European Committee of Social Rights, Aoife Nolan, commented:
"The European Committee of Social Rights welcomes the increased attention paid by Council of Europe member states to social rights and to the European Social Charter system. In addition to implementing the amended state reporting procedure, we look forward in particular to the enhanced dialogue with States Parties envisaged by the Committee of Ministers and to pursuing such constructively and in a spirit of cooperation. This comes at a time when the contribution of the European Social Charter to promoting equality and social justice - and thus to democratic security and sustainability - has never been clearer or more important".