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Members of the 1961 Charter in light green; members of the Revised Charter in dark green; non-member states of the Council of Europe in grey

The European Social Charter should not be confused with the Social Chapter in EU law.

The European Social Charter is a Council of Europe treaty which was adopted in 1961 and revised in 1996. The Revised Charter came into force in 1999 and is gradually replacing the initial 1961 treaty.

The Charter sets out rights and freedoms and establishes a supervisory mechanism guaranteeing their respect by the States parties.

The Charter guarantees rights and freedoms which concern all individuals in their daily existence. The basic rights set out in the Charter are as follows: housing, health, education, employment, social and legal protection, free movement of persons and non discrimination.

States Parties to the Charter must submit annual reports on a part of the provisions of the Charter (be it the 1961 Charter or the 1996 Revised Charter), showing how they implement them in law and in practice. The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) is the body responsible for monitoring compliance in the States party to the Charter.

The ECSR is composed of 15 independent, impartial members who are elected by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers for a period of six years, renewable once.

Under the 1995 Additional Protocol providing for a system of Collective Complaints which came into force in 1998, complaints of violations of the Charter may be lodged with the ECSR.

Certain organisations are entitled to lodge complaints with the ECSR (a special list of NGOs has been established, made up of NGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe). The ECSR examines the complaint and, if the formal requirements have been met, declares it admissible.

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