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Are social ‘Rights’ rights?
European Labour Law Journal  (IF),  Pub Date : 2020-02-12, DOI: 10.1177/2031952520905382
Catherine Barnard

The Charter draws a distinction between rights and principles. Article 51(1) of the Charter says that rights must be ‘respected’ whereas principles must merely be ‘observed’. The question is how to tell whether a provision in the Charter contains a right or a principle and what implication this has for social rights – which in a number of national Constitutions are traditionally seen as principles, not rights, and thus not directly enforceable. However, for EU citizens this is not satisfactory; why is something described as a right in fact not a right? In this article I wish to argue that while it was originally intended that social rights should in fact be principles, the Court is beginning to adopt a more nuanced approach to this question.