Observatory for the protection of social rights in the European context

Currently, it is unavoidable to recognize that the application of Law shall not, in any case, be carried out using only standards stemming from national sources. On the contrary, it implies a continuous and complex, thereby very demanding, dialogue with other areas of the legal system. This dialogue has to be run, especially, with rules and principles enacted by international and regional organizations, maxime at the European level, of which Portugal is a member state.

These rules and principles shall operate, immediately, as a reference pattern for the interpretation of national standards thereon axiologically supported, but they can possibly offer, by themselves, the answer for problems that the national system, singly considered, is unable to solve, or to solve adequately. It is important, on the other hand, to understand how the several transnational levels relate with each other, mainly when the terms of that intersection are not defined in the normative instruments involved.

The Observatory for the Protection of Social Rights in the European Context aims to think over the impact of those normative instruments on the national law system, at the level of the legislative and jurisdictional experiences, assessing their compliance with the supranational Law.

Considering that the object of the Portuguese section of the Academic Network on The European Social Charter and Social Rights (ANESC)/ Réseau Académique sur La Charte Sociale Européenne et Les Droits Sociaux (RACSE) is the research in the area of social rights, addressing, particularly, the Revised European Social Charter and the European Code of Social Security, these instruments are the centre of the attention of the Observatory, even if they do not consume entirely its target. Additionally – and because its institutional source is the same: the Council of Europe –, the European Convention on Human Rights is going to be taken into account, as well as the European Union Law and the International Conventions that may also be considered as sources of social rights (e.g., at the level of the ILO and the UN), and, therefore, integrate the set of legal instruments to be taken into consideration in order to grant those rights a multilevel protection.

In systematic terms, the main fields of research of this Observatory are the following:

  • Analysis of the rulings and reports of the European Committee of Social Rights, in what concerns the Revised European Social Charter, as well as the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, as far as the European Convention on Human Rights is concerned, impacting on the national system, directly or indirectly;
  • Analysis of the Portuguese legislative and case-law situation, with a view to assessing its compliance with the international instruments mentioned above;
  • Relationship between several international instruments arising from different sources (Council of Europe; European Union; ILO, UN, WTO) and the terms in which they shall be connected with the national law, in order to solve potential conflicts between different standards, and to assess their justiciability and effectiveness;

    Analysis of the decisions and reports of the European Committee of Social Rights concerning Portugal