Chapter 7 The impact of the European Charters in times of crisis and their role in effectuating social justice ideals for European citizens
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The European Union’s (EU) response to the crisis of 2008 has jeopardized vulnerable groups, including the elderly, youth, persons with disabilities and migrants. Citizens’ social rights are strongly related or based upon the core values of ‘equal treatment and respect’ and ‘freedom’, which the European Union is founded upon. However, the degree to which European states meet ideals of distributive, representative, or recognitive justice varies widely and austerity measures have resulted in the unfair distribution of resources, which fuels deprivation of social rights and inequality within and between societies, leading to problems in effectuating justice ideals for European citizens. In this chapter we will discuss the specific role of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EU Charter) and the Council of Europe Social Charter (Social Charter) in times of crisis and beyond, their mutual relationship and whether the fundamental social rights laid down therein could constitute a real counterweight to austerity measures and could diminish social injustice. As such, the notion of distributive justice (redistribution of wealth and resources), representative justice (level of representation in the institutions such as trade unions and before courts) and recognitive justice (vulnerability in the socio-cultural sphere) are considered in the context of social justice. To this end, a desktop and doctrinal research was carried out of key legal instruments, their interpretation by legal bodies (i.e. CJEU, ECSR, national courts), and other EU and CoE documents, on the European Charters in relation to social (in)justice, freedom and equality.

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