Fundamental Social Rights Protection and Covid-19 in the EU: Constraints & Possibilities



The Covid-19 pandemic has had major socio-economic consequences, particularly for critical workers such as healthcare workers, seasonal workers and platform workers in their social rights enjoyment. This article analyses how EU law could protect social rights in times of Covid-19, with a specific focus on the possibilities and limits of the EU Charter in times of crisis for these certain categories of EU workers. The potential of EU legal instruments to protect vulnerable workers’ social rights is limited both by the limited legislative competences in the social policy field and the limited scope of application of the EU Charter. Furthermore, social rights enshrined in the Charter are often formulated as principles, which means they cannot be invoked directly in court, but need to be elaborated in legislation. Nevertheless, the EU could further strengthen the potential of social rights in the EU legal order through harmonisation of social standards in two ways. First, by harmonisation of social rights using the legal bases in the Treaty. Secondly, by implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights effectively and by improving application of the EU Charter at national level, both by clarifying and broadening horizontal direct effect as by increasing application of the EU Charter by national policymakers and the judiciary and raising awareness.


EU Charter of Fundamental Rightssocial justicesocial fundamental rightsEU social policysolidarityCovid-19
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 3
  • Page/Article: 103–117
  • DOI: 10.36633/ulr.679
  • Published on 12 Oct 2021
  • Peer Reviewed