Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk
Chapter 3: Social security in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights
This chapter discusses the protection of social security interests in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). It will show that even though the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is primarily concerned with civil and political rights, a development towards increasing protection of social security interests can be detected in the case law of the ECtHR. This chapter will discuss three different ways in which protection in the field of social security can be derived from ECHR rights: (1) protection against a decline in social security protection under Article 1 of Protocol No 1 on the right to property; (2) protection against exclusion from the personal scope of social security schemes under Article 14 on non-discrimination; and (3) protection against destitution and ill-health under Articles 2 and 3 on the right to life and the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment. This chapter will argue that despite the cautious approach of the ECtHR, the case law does set a number of important limits to states’ discretion in designing social security schemes.
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