Social Charter

Social Charter in Europe

Description of Social Charter

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes social charter in the following terms: [1] Easily confused with the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty or the impotent European Social Charter agreed by the Council of Europe in 1961, the Social Charter (or Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers) was signed in 1989 by all the EU member states except the UK. The Charter was an initiative of Commission president Jacques Delors. Basing his case on the social aspirations contained in the Preamble to the Treaty of Rome, Delorsargued that European employment practice should be standardised, with extensive worker protections and, most controversially, labour participation in company direction. These proposals were strongly opposed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the grounds that over-regulating the labour market would discourage the creation of new jobs and that employment legislation should be a national affair (see more in this European encyclopedia). Moreover, having spent a decade reversing socialism in Britain, she was unwilling to see a Continental version introduced through European legislation.

With the support of the other member states, the Commission planned to incorporate the Social Charter into the Maastricht Treaty. By 1990, John Majorhad replaced Thatcher, but he was as adamant as she (see more in this European encyclopedia). In the event the Charter’s provisions were annexed to the Treaty in the form of a Protocol on Social Policy, informally known as the Social Chapter, from which the UK had an opt-out. The saga ended in 1997, when the new British Labour government terminated the opt-out. (See also Social Chapter.)

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Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

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