European Social Charter

The European Social Charter

The European Social Charter (CETS No. 035) entered into force in 1965. Ever since its supplementation with a revised version (CETS No. 163) in 1999, the latter version has gradually replaced the former. Both versions guarantee the citizens of the Council of Europe member states a number of social rights and freedoms in various domains.

The signatory states are obligated to accept at least ten of the nineteen articles specified in the Social Charter, among them at least five of the seven following, deemed most important rights and freedoms:

  1. The right to work
  2. The right to organise
  3. The right to bargain collectively
  4. The right to social security
  5. The right to benefit from social welfare services
  6. The right of the family to social, legal and economic protection
  7. The right of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance


The Social Charter has its own monitoring mechanism: The signatory states are asked to annually submit a report to the European Committee of Social Rights on the progress made towards achieving the goals set in the Social Charter. After examining the report, the Committee decides, whether or not the situation in the country concerned is in conformity with the European Social Charter. Its decisions, known as “conclusions”, are then published for the attention of the Committee of Ministers.


There’s no possibility to lodge an individual complaint about a violation of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Social Charter. In 1995, however, the Charter was supplemented with a protocol, which allows certain Unions, Worker’s Organisations and the INGOs, which form the Council of Europe’s INGO Conference, to refer violations of the Social Charter to the European Committee of Social Rights.