Press release - DC011(2014)

Secretary General calls for better protection of social rights in times of austerity

New findings show numerous violations of the European Social Charter across 38 countries

Strasbourg, 28.01.2014 – The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has urged European governments and international organisations to pay greater attention to social and economic rights when implementing austerity measures.

The European Committee of Social Rights ( ECSR) will tomorrow publish its annual conclusions for 2013 showing some 180 violations of the European Social Charter, a social and economic counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights, across 38 Council of Europe member states.

According to the ECSR, the increase in violations of the charter is increasingly linked to inadequate levels of social benefits – disproportionately affecting the poor, the unemployed, the elderly and the sick – and to unequal treatment of migrants under the guise of combating “benefit tourism”.

The Secretary General said: “The need to protect everyday rights for workers and non-working people is a core European value which becomes all the more important when times are tough”.

“However, the information to be published shows that the economic crisis and austerity policies have clearly had a negative impact on social and economic rights across Europe. Benefits are being restricted and people moving between countries to live or find work are often being unfairly treated.

“All Council of Europe member states should ratify the latest version of the European Social Charter and also sign up to the complaints mechanism which helps to make sure it is put into practice.

“Furthermore, international organisations – including the European Union – must take individual countries’ obligations under the charter into account when discussing austerity measures.”

Notes to Editors

- The ECSR publishes annual conclusions on the extent to which laws and practices in Council of Europe member states are in line with their obligations under either the 1961 European Social Charter or the 1996 European Social Charter (Revised) – depending on which version of the charter they have ratified.

- The annual conclusions for 2013 – looking at provisions of the charter relating to health and social protection – will be published on the ECSR website at 12pm CET on Wednesday 29 January 2014.

- The conclusions will be presented to the media at a press conference at the Council of Europe office in Brussels (Avenue des Nerviens 85) from 10am the same day. Individual interviews with members of the committee can also be arranged.

Media contacts for further information:

In Brussels - Andrew Cutting, media officer (, tel. +32 485 217 202)

In Strasbourg - Estelle Steiner, media officer (, tel. +33 3 88 41 33 35)

Council of Europe Directorate of Communications
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11