The Council of Europe is a regional organisation establishedin 1949.Currently the Council of Europe has 47 member states and five observer countries. The main objectives are to strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law and to seek common solutions to political, social, cultural and legal problems of its member states.
The Committee of Ministers is the highest executive body in which all member countries are represented by their foreign ministers and their deputies, and normally have their permanent representatives in Strasbourg. The main activity of this body includes the development of political dialogue among the Member States, the adoption of recommendations to the countries, the adoption of conventions and agreements, monitoring the implementation of commitments made by Member States and other obligations.
The Parliamentary Assembly is composed of 636 members(318 principal members and 318 substitutes) from the national parliaments of 47 countries. In each delegation the political parties are represented proportionately to their representation in national parliaments. The provisions adopted by the Assembly (recommendations, opinions, resolutions) serve as guidelines in the policy-making of the Committee of Ministers, national governments, parliaments and parties.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is a consultative body representing local and regional interests in Europe. There are two chambers - one of the regional authorities and other one - of the local authorities, thereby local government having a say.
The secretariat is headed by a Secretary General who reports to the Committee of Ministers. The main task of the Secretariat and the Secretary-General's strategic management, work programme, budget, and the daily work of the Organisation.
Participation of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in activities under the Council of Europe.
Bulgaria is party to the European Social Charter (revised) of the CoE.The European Social Charter (ESC) is an international treaty opened for signature by Member States of the Council of Europe (CoE).The ESC governs of the international level of basic economic and social rights, thereby complementing the European Convention on Human Rights.The ESC entered into force in 1965, and in 1996 the European Social Charter (revised) was opened for signature, which amends and supplements the ESC, and introduces new rights. Both treaties are currently in force.Bulgaria ratified the ESC (rev) on 29 March 2000,in force since 1 August 2000
Overseeing implementation of the provisions adopted by the ESC and ESC(rev) is carried out in several stages. National reports are drawn up on an annual basis detailing information on legislation and practice with the relevant to the Charter provisions. The national reports are examined by the European Committeeof Social Rights,which is an independent body CE, consisting of 15 highly qualified experts. Based on national reports this authority draws conclusions on compliance, non-compliance or delay in the decision because of a requirement to provide additional information on each country.
The conclusions drawn up by the European Committee of Social Rights are dealt with by the Governmental Committee of the European Social Charter. This body consists of representatives of each signatory to the Charter, as the agenda of its meetings covers discrepancies found between the provisions of the Charter and the national law and practice of each country. In case of prolonged and/or serious violation of the provisions of the Charter, the Governmental Committee may draw up a proposal for a recommendation, which in turn is put to the vote at the Committee of Ministers of the CoE.
The MLSP participates in the National Programme for Bulgaria's participation in the intergovernmental activities of the Council of Europe in the field of labour and social policy.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy participates with its representatives in committees and working groups of the CoE, such as the Governmental Committee to the ESC, the Committee on Social Cohesion, the Committee for people with disabilities.
On 18 June 2015, the MLSP held a meeting with representatives of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe on the initiative of the Secretariat in charge of the European Social Charter. It was attended by Mr. Giuseppe J. Palmisano, president of the Committee, Ms Karin Lucas, a member, Professor Krasimira Sredkova, a member, Mr Kevin Brown and Mr Henrik Kristensen, representatives of the Secretariat of the ECSR.
The aim of the event was to assess the status of national law and practice for possible accession to other provisions of the ESC (rev) are not ratified by Bulgaria (36 of the 98 provisions).This obligation is regulated by the decision of the Committee of Ministers (CM) of the Council of Europe (CoE), under which Member States should submit reports on the unadopted provisions every five years after the date of ratification (effective for Bulgaria since 1 August 2000 .).
The agenda of the meetings covered the following provisions:
- Article 2(1) - Working time
- Article 4(1) - - Fair remuneration;
- Article 9 - Right to vocational guidance;
- Article 10 - Right to vocational training;
- Article 12(2) - Maintenance of a social security system at a satisfactory level, but lower than the level required for ratification of the European Code of Social Security;
- Article 12(4) - Taking steps for the conclusion of bilateral and multilateral agreements for equal treatment of nationals of other Contracting Parties to their own nationals as regards the right to social security;
- Article 13(4) - The right to social and medical assistance to foreign nationals;
- Article 15 - Right of persons with disabilities to independence, social integration and participation in public life;
- Article 18 - Right to gainful occupation in the territory of other contracting parties;
- Article 19 - Right of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance;
- Article 23 - Right of elderly persons to social protection;
- Article 27(1) - Right of workers with family responsibilities to equal opportunities and be subject to equal treatment;
- Article 30 - Right to protection against poverty and social exclusion;
- Article 31 - Right to housing.
Bulgaria was involved via representatives from all directorates of the Ministry, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, the General Labour Inspectorate Executive Agency, the Employment Agency, the Social Assistance Agency, the National Social Security Institute, the National Health Insurance Fund, as well as the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Industrial Association and the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.