Council of Europe concludes that France violated the European Social Charter
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
Following a complaint (n°168/2018) introduced by the European Disability Forum and Inclusion Europe against France, on Monday 17 April 2023, the European Committee on Social Rights of the Council of Europe (ECSR) has made its decision. Thus, the Committee concludes that there is a violation by France of the European Social Charter (ESC).
In addition to the ratification of the European Social Charter in 1973, France ratified the revised version of the charter on 07 May 1999 and accepted all 98 paragraphs. Each year, France publishes a report on the application of the Charter in its domestic law. In this year 2023, the French report was published in early January. The purpose of this report is to respond to collective complaints and to highlight concrete progress.
As stated in their complaint, EDF and Inclusion Europe contend that by failing to implement effective and sufficient measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to social support services and facilities, France did not respect the right of persons with disabilities to live an independent life within the community, to be socially integrated and to be fully part of society. These rights are guaranteed by Article 15§3 of the revised European Social Charter.
Moreover, according to the complainant organizations, other articles are violated by France:
- Article 11 ESC: the right to protection of health
- Article 14 ESC about the right to benefit from social welfare services
- Article 16 ESC about the right of the family to social, legal, and economic protection
- Article 27§1 ESC: the right of workers with family responsibilities to equal opportunities and equal treatment.
However, despite the invocation of multiple articles, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) decided to examine the allegations of the complainant organizations solely from the angle of Articles 15§1 and 15§3, Article 11§1 and Article 16 of the ESC. All the above articles were found to be violated by the Committee. For example, in its public decision, the Committee concluded unanimously that “ there is a violation of Article 15§3 of the Charter because of the failure of the authorities (i) to adopt effective measures within a reasonable timeframe with regard to the access to social support services and to financial support; (ii) to adopt effective measures within a reasonable timeframe with regard to the accessibility of buildings and facilities (iii) to adopt effective measures within a reasonable timeframe with regard to the accessibility of public transport; (iv) to develop and adopt a coordinated policy for social integration and participation in the life of the community by persons with disabilities”.
To conclude, the Council of Europe, which is responsible for enforcing human rights in Europe, has denounced a violation of the rights of disabled people by the French state. According to the institution, France prevents people with disabilities from leading an independent life. The main cause is the inaccessibility of buildings and transport.
Sources and further readings:
Council of Europe, News, Rights of people with disabilities: Council of Europe concludes that France violated the European Social Charter, 17 April 2023: https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/droits-des-personnes-handicap%C3%A9es-le-conseil-de-l-europe-conclut-%C3%A0-la-violation-par-la-france-de-la-charte-sociale-europ%C3%A9enne
Council of Europe Portal, Social Rights, News, The decision on the merits in European Disability Forum (EDF) and Inclusion Europe v. France, Complaint No. 168/2018, is now public: https://www.coe.int/en/web/european-social-charter/-/the-decision-on-the-merits-in-european-disability-forum-edf-and-inclusion-europe-v.-france-complaint-no.-168/2018-is-now-public
European Social Charter, Collected texts (7th edition) : https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=090000168048b059
Council of Europe Portal, Social Rights, Monitoring, Country profiles, France: https://www.coe.int/en/web/european-social-charter/france#previous