STATE OBLIGATIONS CONCERNING SocIo-ECONOMIC
RIGHTS IN TIMES OF THE EUROPEAN FINANCIAL CRISIS
Jernej Letnar Cernij*
The 2008 European financial crisis indirectly undermined socioeconomic rights in several European countries. From Lisbon to Sevilla,
Venice to Ljubljana, and Athens to Nicosia, Eastern and Southern
European countries face the negative consequences of the financial crisis
and subsequent structural reforms. As such, protection of social and
economic rights is rapidly declining. Growing evidence suggests that the
economic and public debt crises of Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland,
Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain undermined the level of socioeconomic rights individuals in those countries enjoy. 1 Reduction in
government spending lessened the protection of economic and social
rights-such as the right to social security, health care, education,
housing, food, and water.
The economic crisis affected the everyday lives of ordinary people,
both at micro and macro levels. For instance, the European Commission
noted that "groups already at a heightened risk of poverty, such as young
adults, children and to some extent migrants, are now experiencing an
even worse situation.",2 A young family in Spain can no longer repay its
housing loan and quickly becomes homeless. A former Greek public
employee can no longer access state health insurance, since she has no
income. A Portuguese student cannot enroll at a public university as a
result of increased tuition fees. Not to mention the suffering of applicants
for international protection in reception centers at Athens, Lampadusa,
and Malta. The Eurobarometer reports that, "financially vulnerable
Europeans report feeling left out of society far more often than
respondents as a whole. While 16 % of Europeans overall feel excluded,
around a third of 'poor' Europeans feel this way.",3 Figure 1 illustrates
the severe material deprivation rate in Europe in 2011 and 2012.
Jernej Letnar C(erni , Assistant Professor of Law, Graduate School of Government and
I European Union Agency for Fundamental
Rights, Annual Report 2012,
http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/annual-report-2012 en.pdf 11-38.
2 European Union, 2012 'Employment and Social Developments in Europe' Review,
Europa.eu/rapid/press-releaseAGENDA-1 2-44 en.doc.
http://ec.europa.eu/public opinion/archives/ebs/ebs355 en.pdf (2010), 52.