Revised European Social Charter – realisation of a social welfare state, Zagreb

With the Council of Europe’s support and under the City of Zagreb auspices, NGO Pragma organised on 19 November 2013 the event called „Revised European Charter – realisation of a social welfare state“. Alongside numerous representatives of the Council of Europe, Croatian government ministries, City of Zagreb, special ombudspersons, judiciary, trade unions, employers associations and NGOs, the Deputy Ombudsman Jagoda Novak was present at the meeting.

The key–note speaker at the meeting was Professor Luis Jimena Quesada, President of the Council of Europe's Committee for Social Rights who highlighted few basic factors related to the European Social Charter and the Republic of Croatia.

Although Croatia was one of 43 country members of the Council of Europe which adopted the Council of Europe's Social Charter, it has not ratified the Revised version of the Social Charter from 1991. Professor Quesada stressed that the ratification is logical and necessary step due to few reasons: Primarily it is a matter of consistency since the economic and social rights under the Charter make part of the list of rights contained in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Further, its instruments may accelerate the respect of social rights at national level and enhance the constitutional guarantees for a social welfare state.

Within this context he emphasised the role of independent institutions and civil society organisations in urging the government bodies to adopt this highest standards for social rights protection in the time of economic and social crisis. Croatia is one of 15 countries which have adopted the joint legal action procedure before the Council of Europe as a special complaints' mechanism contained, besides a regular reporting mechanism, in the Charter - said Professor Quesada.

During the discussion both representatives of the Croatian Employers' Association and Association of Workers’ Trade Union promoted the usage of the Charter's mechanism as well as the need for ratification of the Revised version of the Charter.  

Council of Europe's representatives L.J Quesada and Regis Brillant have meetings planned on the second day, with the top ranking Croatian government officials on the possibilities for ratification of the Revised Charter and upgrading the social rights protection standards which remained the last challenge for the Republic of Croatia on its EU accession path

So far, one case was recorded against the Republic of Croatia in which the joint legal action resulted in policy change, namely, in withdrawal of discriminatory statements from the school textbook for biology regarding the sexual and reproductive health education (Interights vs. Croatia, collective complaint nr. 45/2007).