Francesco Costamagna

Reduction of Available Resources and Lessened Protection of Social Rights: The Safeguard of the Minimum Core as a Limit for the Adoption of Retrogressive Measures

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Social Rights; Available Resources; Minimum Core; Balancing; Crisis; Retrogressive Measures.

Social rights have been badly hit by the crisis and, even more, by the measures adopted to cope with it. Reduction of social spending has been one of the key items of the austerity programmes devised to counter the crisis, especially in Europe. This step should have contributed to make public finances more sustainable and, thus, to help national economies out of the quagmire. Conversely, it has contributed much to turn a financial and, then, economic crisis into a social one, by making poverty rates soar and social inequalities re-emerge. Moving from this factual scenario, the article analyses the limits posed by international and EU social rights law on States' capacity to adopt retrogressive measures to cope with resource constraints. In particular, the analysis focuses on the possibility to consider the respect for social rights' minimum core as a condition for the adoption of such measures. The analysis first shows that the practice of international and supranational bodies is giving increasing recognition to this element, especially in evaluating recent anti-crisis measures. Secondly, it takes into consideration the critiques that have been levelled against the recourse to the minimum core as a limit to States' capacity to adopt retrogressive measures with regard to the protection of social rights in times of crisis. Lastly, the article proposes a response to these arguments, by showing the need to rely upon the safeguard social rights' minimum content as an element to preserve the very "raison d'être" of these rights.

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