Paving the Way for Effective Socio-economic Rights? The Domestic Enforcement of the European Social Charter System in Light of Recent Judicial Practice

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The current crisis era in Europe has revealed symptoms of lack of respect for international socio-economic rights and challenges vis-à-vis their effectiveness at the national level. One such symptom relates to the (lack of) responsiveness of domestic judges concerning the justiciability, direct applicability and enforceability of such rights. Against this background, the European Social Charter—a rather neglected legal instrument, albeit the most important one with regard to socioeconomic rights in Europe—has emerged in the jurisprudence of domestic courts in recent years, providing a unique perspective to address these challenges. In reality, even though the Charter initially seemed to exclude the possibility of being invoked before national courts, the situation has changed today. This is especially the case since the adoption of the Collective Complaints Procedure, as can be seen in the practice of lower and apex courts of several contracting parties. Specifically, various domestic courts—e.g. in Greece and Spain—have in many cases ruled in favour of the direct effect of various Charter provisions, and have given considerable weight to the ‘quasi-case law’ of the Charter’s monitoring body: the European Committee of Social Rights. Domestic courts are thus providing a valuable perspective on the normative debates in legal doctrine, specifically regarding the (democratic) legitimacy of judicially reviewing the legislator’s choices, and the issue of effectively protecting and enforcing international socio-economic rights at the domestic level in times of crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMyth or Lived Reality: On the (In)Effectiveness of Human Rights
EditorsClaire Boost, Andrea Broderick, Fons Coomans, Roland Moerland
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherTMC Asser Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-6265-447-1
ISBN (Print)978-94-6265-446-4, 978-94-6265-449-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Economic and social rights
  • European Social Charter
  • domestic enforcement
  • international monitoring
  • national courts
  • direct effect
  • monism
  • effectiveness
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • austerity
  • financial crisis

Cite this