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e-Pública: Revista Eletrónica de Direito Público

On-line version ISSN 2183-184X


PALMSTORFER, Rainer. Austerity measures on trial: On the compatibility of austerity measures with the European Convention of Human Rights. e-Pública [online]. 2014, vol.1, n.3, pp.121-134. ISSN 2183-184X.

So far legal analysis has predominantly focussed on the question whether the measures that were adopted in the context of the so-called ‘eurocrisis' (i.e. European Stability Mechanism, Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance etc.) are compatible with the EU Treaties. This discussion has concentrated on competences and the institutional framework of the Economic and Monetary Union (hereinafter “EMU”). Recently, however, the crisis has also developed a fundamental-rights dimension, as it was/is questionable whether austerity measures adopted in the wake of the crisis are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “ECHR”), in particular with article 1º of Protocol 1º (Protection of Property). Austerity measures such as cuts in social security benefits, pensions or excessive tax rates produced a series of cases before the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “ECtHR”) that were decided in 2013. In these cases, the ECtHR conferred a wide margin of appreciation on the national legislators as regards the definition of public interest. However, this margin is not unlimited. The paper will analyse this recent case-law, in particular it shall address the issue of possible limits for the legislator as regards cuts in public sector salaries and pensions.

Keywords : fiscal crisis; austerity measures; European Convention of Human Rights; protection of property; public sector cuts.

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