Invitation for the first Social Europe Lecture of ReflecT - Tilburg University:
The Revised European Social Charter – a “soft law” instrument with power to promote the slowly developing European gender equality?
Prof. Csilla Kollonay-Lehoczky - Central European University, Budapest.
The European Social Charter is an important standard setting instrument of the EU social and economic system, and indispensable part of what is called Social Europe. A brief introduction to the Charter sheds light on the reasons and error behind its low visibility and reputation. This can be summarized in the so called “dynamic” (programmatic) as well as “collective” nature of the Charter that features this instrument for many as “soft law” without teeth, rather a political document tha n a legal instrument. The talk will demonstrate that the Charter is a legally binding document, establishing legal obligations of the State Parties.
As a concrete example, equality, in particular gender equality with a special emphasis on maternity and parental roles will be presented, in order to demonstrate the progress achieved in this area of human rights. Achievements of the last two decades in the area of gender equality have clearly evidenced that proper methods of checking progress under “dynamic obligations” as well as the collective nature of the Charter rights can lead to results that are hard to achieve through individual litigation. Attention will be called to the approximation between not only the ECHR and the Charter the two human rights instruments of Europe, but, increasingly in this century, between the Social Charter and the EU legal system that has progressively become from a pure economic framework to a framework of economic as well as social standards.