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Last 18th October, the European Social Charter celebrated its 60th year of activity as the cornerstone of European economic and social fundamental rights. The anniversary has been observed with a panel at the Palais d’Europe in Strasbourg. The international community has always considered the European Social Charter the guardian of European fundamental guarantees as it sets international standards concerning social rights and it provides a mechanism to monitor and implement these freedoms with countries' contribution.
The European Social Charter, also known as the Social Constitution of Europe, safeguarded for 60 years employment, housing, health, education, social protection and welfare, being recognised as the basis of European human rights protection. Hence, its actions have always been addressed to the most vulnerable social groups, as elderly people, children, migrants and the disabled.
The Social Constitution of Europe guarantees a broad range of human rights concerning everyone's essential needs. Its ultimate purpose was to integrate the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 into the European system. Therefore, it is considered as one of the most important documents defending European fundamental values. Like the UN declaration, it finds its values in the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of social rights, confirming once again their equal importance to human rights. As already mentioned, the Social Charter is submitted to a reporting mechanism to monitor states’ compliance to European values and principles, as decided through the 1995 Additional Protocol providing a system of collective complaints.
As highlighted by Marija Pejčinović Burić, CoE Secretary General, now more than ever, we need to celebrate the European Social Charter. The Covid-19 pandemic turned out to have negative consequences on the economic and social spheres. Therefore, inequalities have been growing and becoming more and more significant to European citizens. To contrast this negative trend, the European Social Charter can work with states to develop social systems and to build a more inclusive society.