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  • Author or Editor: Colm O’Cinneide x
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Colm O’Cinneíde

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Colm O’Cinneide

In Europe, three regional legal mechanisms play key roles in protecting social rights. The European Social Charter (ESC) protects a range of socio-economic rights, with state compliance monitored through both a national reporting system and a ground-breaking ‘collective complaints’ procedure. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) provides an indirect degree of protection for social rights. For EU member states, social rights are also protected by elements of EU law, in particular the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. These three mechanisms have strengths and weaknesses. The ESC guarantees a comprehensive list of socio-economic rights. However, its enforcement mechanisms remain weak. The ECHR provides ‘spill-over’ protection for a small sub-set of social rights, but is primarily a civil and political rights mechanism. The social rights provisions of the EU Charter enjoy supremacy over domestic law. However, their scope is restricted, and their substance is uncertain. Social rights protection within Europe thus remains underdeveloped. However, there are also grounds for optimism. In particular, the expanding collective complaints case-law of the European Committee on Social Rights (ECSR), which monitors state compliance with the ESC, has breathed new life into this important social rights mechanism.

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Colm O’Cinneide and Myriam Hunter-Henin

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Colm O’Cinneide, Myriam Hunter-Henin and Jörg Fedtke