Health, security and social protection: the EU committee examines the situation in 33 States

The conclusions of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR). In many States, insufficient measures against accidents at work and occupational diseases; in several countries, levels of social assistance are low, while older people do not have adequate resources to lead a dignified life. In general, a high level of poverty and insufficient repressive measures were highlighted. In Italy, the situation is not cured for the Roma

Photo by the DIRE agency

STRASBOURG – The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) publishes today its Conclusions 2021 against 33 States concerning the articles of the Social Charter relating to health, social security and social protection.

Under the reporting procedure, the Committee adopted 401 conclusions: 165 of non-compliance and 110 Charter compliance. In 126 cases, the Committee was unable to assess the situation due to insufficient information (“references”).

As a member of worker health and safety in the digital or platform economy, the Committee found that, in some countries, self-employed workers and domestic workers were not covered by occupational health and safety. In many countries, the number of accidents at work (including fatalities) and occupational diseases is still high or increasing and the measures taken to improve the situation are not always sufficient. In some cases, national labor inspectorates are not sufficiently effective due to a lack of staff, a low number of inspections or a repeated absence of different types of information.

For what concern Right to healthdata on life expectancy reveal that there are large differences between men and women, regions, urban and rural areas, education and income levels.

In addition, the Committee found that many States had not taken adequate measures to deal with the persistently high levels of infant and maternal mortality which, when considered together with other basic health indicators, reveal weaknesses in the health system. In addition, public health spending remains too low in some countries and their rights are not sufficiently guaranteed.

With regard to the obligation of States to prevent as far as possible epidemics, endemics and other diseasesthe Committee noted thelack of effective vaccination programs and epidemiological surveillancethe absence of legislation prohibiting the sale and use of asbestos or the absence of sufficient measures to ensure access to drinking water in rural areas.

The Committee again found little or no progress in many States parties with regard to social Security. The insufficient minimum level of income replacement benefits remains the main reason for non-compliance. Minimum levels of unemployment, sickness and disability benefits in many countries are below 40% of median equivalised income.

In many cases, the level of social assistance granted to a single person without resources remains below the poverty line. In addition, the excessive length of stay often prevents legally resident foreigners from accessing social and medical assistance.

Regarding the rights of the elderlythe Committee noted that in many Member States the elderly do not have adequate resources to enable them to lead a dignified life and play an active role in the community. In some cases, there is still a lack of legislation prohibiting discrimination outside the workplace.

The Committee noted the devastating effects of Covid-19 on the elderly and highlighted the importance of moving away from institutionalization as opposed to community care and independent living for older adults.

The Committee concluded that in many countries the level of poverty is too high and not enough action has been taken to address this fundamental problem and the situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, he noted with satisfaction the adoption in some countries of various measures aimed at strengthening health and safety at work, access to health care for the homeless, health and sexuality education in schools and/or positive measures concerning the rights of LGBTI people.

Finally, the Committee made public its 2021 findings against eight states (Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy And Portugal) bound by the collective complaint procedure for non-compliance with the Social Charter.

In none of these countries have the situations encountered been cured. The highest number of cases concerns Greece (12) and France (10). Among the cases examined in France, there are still violations of rights concerning “the education of children with autism, compensation for police overtime, access to health care, information and prevention, for the Roma, the reception and education of unaccompanied children, the education of nomads in the process of removal”. For Greece too, the open questions concern “the housing of Roma families, health and safety in work and austerity measures on working hours, wages, professional training and pensions”. While Belgium must tackle the situation of “housing for nomadic families, social services for disabled adults , corporal punishment for children and education for minors with disabilities”.

Also in Italy Questions regarding “Roma housing and other rights, as well as restrictions on the right to organize of members of the Guardia di Finanza” remain open. In all these cases, out of the eight countries examined, the ECSR found that “the situation had not yet been brought into full conformity with the provisions of the Charter”. Finally, the ECSR invites “the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to continue to monitor with due diligence the proper application of the decisions of the ECSR”.

Add Comment