Friday, 27 April 2007

European Social Charter and European Union

The European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States. The Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law (Treaty on European Union, Article 6).

The provisions of the European Social Charter (1961) of the Council of Europe may be one of the sources for the constitutional traditions common to the European Union countries, as general principles of European Community law.

Article 136(1) of the EC Treaty expressly mentions the (old) European Social Charter:

“The Community and the Member States, having in mind fundamental social rights such as those set out in the European Social Charter signed at Turin on 18 October 1961 and in the 1989 Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, shall have as their objectives the promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions, so as to make possible their harmonisation while the improvement is being maintained, proper social protection, dialogue between management and labour, the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of exclusion.”

The politically binding Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union (2000) draws heavily upon the European Social Charter (1961 and 1996).

The Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe (2004) would, were it to come into force, enshrine the Charter of Fundamental Rights as Part II of the new Treaty.

Ralf Grahn