From the Principle of Systemic Integration to the Integrated Approach: The Pathway to the Integration of the European Social Charter for the Interpretation of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The principle of systemic integration for consistent interpretation of social rights. – II.1. Questioning the application of art. 31(3)(c) of VCLT to ESC and CFREU. – II.2. Seeking a consistent interpretation of the right to social security. – III. The theory of the “integrated approach” strengthening social rights protection. – III.1. Developing the theory of an integrated approach. – III.2. Identifying an integrated approach for the interpretation of ESC and CFREU. – III.3. The contribution of an integrated approach to the protection of the right to social security within EU. – IV. Concluding remarks.

Abstract: The Europe of human rights is characterised by the duality of the legal orders of the Council of Europe and of the EU. Their instruments must coexist peacefully, and a coherent interpretation of social human rights is essential to this end, as EU Member States belong to both legal orders. In this sense, it is worth considering whether the integration of the European Social Charter into the interpretation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights could reinforce the protection of social rights. More specifically, would a shift from the application of the principle of systemic integration to the theory of integrated approach foster such a change? To answer these questions, two main hypotheses are developed, by focussing on the right to social security. The first one affirms that following the principle of systemic integration would lead to a stronger interpretation of social rights in the EU legal order. To explore such a hypothesis, the effects of the application of this principle to the interpretation of EU law are considered, in light of the customary nature of this principle and its codification. The second affirms that the impact of applying the theory of integrated approach would go beyond the simple pursuit of systemic coherence. By advancing the method of referring to instruments from other legal orders when interpreting provisions that are applicable to a given situation, this theory has a double objective: ensuring consistent interpretation and strengthening the protection of rights.

Keywords: European Social Charter – systemic integration – integrated approach – European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights – right to social security – human social rights.

European Papers, Vol. 7, 2022, No 3, pp. 1517-1536
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/624

* PhD student, University of Strasbourg,


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