The Council of Europe was set up in post-war Europe with the aim of achieving “a greater unity between its Members” and “facilitating their economic and social progress”. Seven decades later, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, in his report “Ready for future challenges – reinforcing the Council of Europe” (presented at the Ministerial Session in Helsinki on 16-17 May 2019), deplores increased socio-economic inequalities in many member States and links them with the eroding faith of citizens in European institutions. Violent social protest has rippled across some countries, straining democracy and antagonising society.
This echoes the conclusions of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) which, year after year, reminds member States – parties to the European Social Charter – of their duty to enforce social rights, to tackle extreme poverty and inequalities, and to rebuild social ties. The launch of the European Pillar of Social Rights by the European Union in 2017 represents a new opportunity for the harmonisation of social standards across Europe towards strengthening social rights for all.
The Parliamentary Assembly should contribute to this process, with a view to assisting in national and pan-European action against inequalities, by examining how: