On 27 September 2022, the Committee of Ministers adopted a reform package aimed at modernising the European Social Charter system (CM(2022)114-final). The ultimate goal is to assist States Parties in ensuring respect for social rights in line with their commitments. For this purpose, emphasis is placed on the need for enhanced dialogue between the Charter organs (European Committee of Social Rights and Governmental Committee and States Parties as well as all relevant stakeholders (national human rights institutions, national equality bodies, trade unions and other civil society organisations).

In operational terms, several aspects of the monitoring process are evolving with a view to increasing the effectiveness the European Social Charter system as a whole.

 In the reporting procedure, the provisions on which States Parties are required to report are now to be divided into two groups with a report on one group to be submitted every two years. This means that all accepted Charter provisions are to be examined for each State every four years (see Reporting Table below [as found in CM dec]).

First Group

Total of 50 provisions: Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 18 - Article 19 - Article 20 - Article 21 - Article 22 - Article 24 - Article - 25 - Article 28 - Article 29.

Second Group

Total of 48 provisions: Article 7 - Article 11 - Article 12 - Article 13 - Article 14 - Article 15 - Article 16 - Article 17 - Article 23 - Article 26 - Article 27 - Article 30 - Article 31.

In order to bring further focus to the reporting by States Parties and subsequent assessments by the European Committee of Social Rights and, at the same time, lighten the reporting burden on States, targeted questions are to be drawn up by the European Committee of Social Rights and the Governmental Committee.

For States Parties bound by the collective complaints procedure, reporting on the two groups of provisions takes place every four years, which means that all accepted Charter provisions are examined for each of these States every eight years (see Reporting Table below [as found in CM dec]). The reporting required will take account of decisions on collective complaints pertaining to the provisions reported on.

Moreover, the Governmental Committee will strengthen the follow-up given to conclusions adopted by the European Committee of Social Rights by proposing reasoned recommendations for adoption by the Committee of Ministers with a view to triggering changes at the national level and bringing situations into line with the European Social Charter.

 When new or critical issues arise with a broad or transversal scope or a pan-European dimension, States Parties may be asked to submit an ad hoc report for examination by the European Committee of Social Rights. The subject and timing of ad hoc reports will be decided by the European Committee of Social Rights and the Governmental Committee. Follow-up should involve dialogue among the States Parties (within the framework of the Governmental Committee), associating relevant stakeholders (including the social partners and civil society).

 With respect to reporting on follow-up to collective complaints, certain procedural adjustments have been made. In particular, in cases where the Committee of Ministers addressed recommendations to States Parties after the European Committee of Social Rights found that the Charter had not been applied in a satisfactory manner, States Parties will be asked to submit a single report on the follow-up undertaken two years after the recommendation. The assessment of the European Committee of Social Rights on the follow-up reports will then be transmitted to the Committee of Ministers. Depending on the assessment of the European Committee of Social Rights, the Committee of Ministers may:

  • close the case with a resolution,
  • renew the recommendation,
  • before renewing the recommendation, it may refer the case to the Governmental Committee for further consultations. In the light of the outcome of these consultations, the Committee of Ministers decides whether to close the procedure or renew the recommendation.

 Dialogue is encouraged between the Charter’s monitoring bodies (the European Committee of Social Rights, the Governmental Committee and, ultimately, the Committee of Ministers) and the competent authorities of each State Party, whichever procedure under the Charter system is involved (reporting, collective complaints and their respective follow-up). In certain cases, this may involve a group of States Parties seeking to address problematic issues that are common to them or sharing examples of good practice. Social partners and civil society organisations at the European and national levels should be involved in such dialogue.

Dialogue, whether requested by a State Party or at the initiative of one of the organs of the Charter, can involve requests for information, exchanges of letters or meetings. A State Party may also request a country visit. Dialogue, engaged in a constructive spirit, is a tool to reach a common understanding of problematic issues that may permit to identify possible solutions to such issues which are suitable for and acceptable to the State Party concerned. It may also serve as a means of enabling technical assistance.

Year Submission of report ECSR conclusions[1]
2023 Possible ad hoc report (if requested by GC/CM) [2]  
2024 27 States submit reports on the First Group of provisions Possible ECSR analysis of ad hoc reports [3]
2025 16 States that accept collective complaints submit reports on the First Group of provisions ECSR conclusions for 27 States (First Group of provisions)
2026 27 States submit reports on the Second Group of provisions ECSR conclusions for 16 States (First Group of provisions)
2027 Possible ad hoc report (if requested by GC/CM) ECSR conclusions for 27 States (Second Group of provisions)
2028 27 States submit reports on the First Group of provisions Possible ECSR analysis of ad hoc reports
2029 16 States that accept collective complaints submit reports on the Second Group of provisions ECSR conclusions for 27 States (First Group of provisions)
2030 27 States submit reports on the Second Group of provisions ECSR conclusions for 16 States (Second Group of provisions)
2031 Possible ad hoc report (if requested by GC/CM) ECSR conclusions for 27 States (Second Group of provisions)
2032 27 States submit reports on First Group of provisions Possible ECSR analysis of ad hoc reports
2033 16 States that accept collective complaints submit reports on the First Group of provisions ECSR conclusions for 27 States (First Group of provisions)
2034 27 States submit reports on the Second Group of provisions ECSR conclusions for 16 States (First Group of provisions)
2035 Possible ad hoc report (if requested by GC/CM) ECSR conclusions for 27 States (Second Group of provisions)
2036 27 States submit reports on the First Group of provisions Possible ECSR analysis of ad hoc reports
2037 16 States that accept collective complaints submit reports on the Second Group of provisions ECSR conclusions for 27 States (First Group of provisions)
2038 27 States submit reports on the Second Group of provisions ECSR conclusions for 16 States (Second Group of provisions)

 

[1] In 2023, the ECSR will examine the last reports submitted under the existing system.

[2] In order to manage the transition from the current reporting arrangements to the new ones and avoid two consecutive years reporting on same provisions, it could be envisaged to start in 2023 with a possible ad hoc report instead of a statutory report.

[3] GC consideration on the following year, followed by transmission to CM. This applies to each year.

Department of Social Rights

Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law
Council of Europe
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www.coe.int/socialcharter

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