Informations and abstract
Keywords: Fundamental Rights; Multilevel Protection; International Labour Law.
The international protection of social rights has been the subject of a renewed interest during the years of the financial crisis. This is due to multiple factors, notably, the reticence of the European Court of Justice to scrutinise the restrictions to fundamental social rights brought about by austerity measures. However, the actual impact and follow up of decisions delivered by monitoring bodies at international level remains largely unexplored. The essay focuses on two specific examples, drawn from the Italian and Belgian experiences, to assess to what extent the international protection of social rights has an impact at national level. In the Italian context, the FIAT case shows that the intervention of the ILO Committee on freedom of association has not brought any effective improvement of trade union rights, due to procedural problems and the uncertain value of ILO convention in the national legal order. On the Belgian side, the authors consider the application made by national judges of a decision of the European Committee of Social Rights criticising the habit of conceding interim injunctions forbidding picketing activities in the occasion of a strike. Lacking an intervention of the Supreme Court, the authors argue that the impact of the decision by the ECSR remains confined to the role of soft law. The authors conclude that the «multi-level» protection of fundamental right should be considered as a powerful and yet fragile mechanism, where all the cogwheels have to turn in the right direction for it to function: when one of these cogwheels stops, the entire mechanism grinds to a halt.