This chapter explores the potential and limits for enforcing civil rights in a horizontal fashion in Member States, at the level of the ECHR and at the EU level, with a particular focus on EU law and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Furthermore it focuses on the barriers that citizens face in relying on civil rights norms in a horizontal setting vis-à-vis other individuals, that is, private parties, and on the question of how EU law and EU civil rights can be secured in horizontal settings. First, the concept of horizontal direct effect in EU law is explained, then the various pathways are explored that lead to the protection of civil rights in horizontal settings. The chapter concludes by shortlisting a number of options that could be resorted to in order to further enhance and promote the protection of civil rights by private actors.
Sybe de Vries
This chapter focuses on two challenges and possible threats to the exercise of European Union (EU) citizens’ economic rights. The first challenge relates to the question of how the EU Single Market must be defined and envisaged, particularly in relation to the social market economy, which is a key task according to Article 3 TEU (Treaty on European Union). In the face of growing inequality in Europe and contestation of the European integration process, an immature ‘social market’ at EU level seems increasingly problematic, also for the exercise of citizens’ economic rights.A second set of (related) challenges concerns the potential impact of a number of developments, including Brexit, the migration and the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) crisis, on the presumed unity of the internal market. The Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe includes ‘differentiated integration’ as one of the scenarios for the future development of the European Union. Would it, for instance, be imaginable that more variation exists between Member States with respect to their commitment to the four freedoms? What does that mean for the economic rights of citizens?
Barbara Safradin and Sybe de Vries
The European Union’s (EU) response to the crisis of 2008 has jeopardized vulnerable groups, including the elderly, youth, persons with disabilities and migrants. Citizens’ social rights are strongly related or based upon the core values of ‘equal treatment and respect’ and ‘freedom’, which the European Union is founded upon. However, the degree to which European states meet ideals of distributive, representative, or recognitive justice varies widely and austerity measures have resulted in the unfair distribution of resources, which fuels deprivation of social rights and inequality within and between societies, leading to problems in effectuating justice ideals for European citizens. In this chapter we will discuss the specific role of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EU Charter) and the Council of Europe Social Charter (Social Charter) in times of crisis and beyond, their mutual relationship and whether the fundamental social rights laid down therein could constitute a real counterweight to austerity measures and could diminish social injustice. As such, the notion of distributive justice (redistribution of wealth and resources), representative justice (level of representation in the institutions such as trade unions and before courts) and recognitive justice (vulnerability in the socio-cultural sphere) are considered in the context of social justice. To this end, a desktop and doctrinal research was carried out of key legal instruments, their interpretation by legal bodies (i.e. CJEU, ECSR, national courts), and other EU and CoE documents, on the European Charters in relation to social (in)justice, freedom and equality.
Sybe de Vries and Elisabetta Pulice
Economic rights have constituted an indispensable aspect of EU citizenship. They have always been stressed by the European Union and more recently incorporated in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Despite the fact that within the context of the European Union economic rights are ‘old’ rights and have a relatively strong position compared to other EU citizenship rights, there are legal and other, administrative and linguistic, obstacles that make the exercising of these rights sometimes difficult or even impossible. These obstacles develop against the background of a complicated system of multilevel governance between the EU and its Member States where different categories of citizens (gender, age, insiders and outsiders) and an increasing number of rights rival with each other. The question is: what is the impact of the multilevel context of the European Union on hindrances to the exercising of economic rights?
Sybe de Vries and Frans van Waarden
One of the main assumptions of the bEUcitizen project has been that barriers to the exercising of EU citizenship are inter alia caused by the multi-dimensionality of rights: the diversity of rights at EU and national levels. This contribution addresses the question of how EU citizenship rights may come into conflict with each other and whether these conflicts may lead to obstacles to the exercising of EU citizenship, in particular within the multilevel context of the EU. The way in which citizenship rights are normally balanced within the Member States, where certain citizenship rights may be given preference over others, may be jeopardised when the EU and EU citizenship require changes in preferences and a different way of balancing conflicting rights. The authors draw on specific examples of clashes between economic, social, civil and political rights of EU citizens.