Equal rights and solidarity are a pillar of our Europe. They guarantee the social cohesion of our societies.
Socio-economic rights have been acquired through social mobilization and enshrined in the 1948 UN Declaration, by UN covenants on economic and social rights adopted in 1966, by the ILO Conventions, by the Turin 1961 European Social Charter, by the 1989 Community Charter on workers’ fundamental social rights, the CEDAW.
The defence and development of socio-economic rights constitute one of the objectives of our Europe. Europe is, at all levels, jointly responsible as the real and effective guarantee of these rights, according to the principles of indivisibility and of universality. They form an integral part of the fundamental rights.
The rights declared must be subject to the jurisdiction of European and national courts. Any act by European institutions that violates the essential content of these rights must by subject to annulment by the European Court, as well as the non-application of these rights by national judicial bodies. Access to the judicial system is guaranteed, notably for persons with limited resources.
Respect of socio-economic rights is based on the following principles:
∙ The principle of social non-regression: no European decision may contravene what has been acquired and social rights as recognized by a national legislation. ∙ The principle of levelling upwards of norms allowing for the strengthening of legal protections accorded to workers rather than alignment with the lowest common denominator of national legislations. The application for all women in all countries of the European clause that is most favourable to them.
The basis of our Europe is the respect for the right and dignity of workers regardless of their working situation.
Equality, cooperation, solidarity, the democratic definition of needs and social rights are the dominant values of Europe. These replace competition and free-trade.
Every European citizen has the right to benefit from a quality of life that provides protection from poverty and exclusion and allows for the full participation in social and cultural life: this means the eradication of unemployment, of economic insecurity, of poverty and all forms of exclusion.
The common salary and revenue norms below which one cannot pass will be fixed in taking account of the degree of development and the gains that have been obtained in each country. Guaranteed individual minimum revenue, minimum salaries and a calendar for harmonization “upwards” of social rights will be defined In function of this.
The right to a job and an income must be applied while prohibiting all forms of discrimination based on religion, sex, sexual orientation, political opinions or country of origin. The principle of “equal pay for equal work” must become a reality.
Everyone has the right to freely choose their job.
Self-employed workers (tradesmen, peasants) also have this right to revenue guarantees, to training, to working conditions, to democratic representation.
The reduction in working time will be an objective throughout Europe, starting with the generalization of the 35-hour work-week.
Europe acts at all levels to ensure that stable labour contracts without fixed duration become the norm throughout Europe.
All workers will be protected against lay-offs. Any arbitrary firing of workers is prohibited. The right of share-holders to close enterprises just for their own profit will be prohibited. Any project of laying off workers must be accompanied by guarantees for the workers in terms of training, income maintenance and the return to work.
Night work is prohibited to minors under the age of 18 and is only authorized in sectors where it is essential.
Europe recognizes social dialogue, trade-union freedom and the right to form associations as among its fundamental values. All workers have:
∙ the right to freely choose and elect their representatives;
∙ the right to collective negotiation at the level of the company, of their occupational category, at the national or European levels;
∙ the right to approve the collective agreements that concern them;
∙ the right to strike, including for motives of solidarity and political motives, at the local, national and European levels. Lock-outs are prohibited.
Fair representation and democracy in the work-place and in the trade-unions constitute fundamental rights at all levels. Workers’ and trade-union representation, democratically elected at the European level, is one element of European democracy.
A European Enterprise Council (EEC) has to exist within all companies with establishments in several different States. The EEC has the right to information, to preliminary consultation as well as the right to intervene in management decisions concerning the size of the labour force, working conditions and the economic choices of the company. To guarantee the same rights to all, companies subcontracting work will be responsible for the workers employed by their subcontractors.
Social security, unemployment benefits and pensions will reflect, both in how they function and how they are financed, a public logic based on solidarity, as opposed to recourse to individualized systems tied to the market-place (pension funds, private insurance, etc.) The public system (social security) will have to guarantee a decent standard of living for all, whatever the contingencies may be.
In order to guarantee the effective respect for the rights presented in this Charter, Europe must establish appropriate political, economic and social policies, at all levels. Particularly, fiscal and social dumping will end with the harmonization of fiscal policies and a public services policy that is no longer subject to competition.