European Committee of Social Rights has again decided on the low level of social security in Finland
Feb 27, 2023
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) stated in its decision published on 15 February 2023 that the level of Finland's social security is still too low. The complaint filed in 2018 targeted the minimum level of several different social security and social assistance benefits. The ECSR has already given a similar decision regarding Finland.
The ECSR monitors the implementation of the European Social Charter by States Parties. The ECSR concluded in its decision that the level of sickness, parental, rehabilitation benefits, basic unemployment allowance and guarantee pension falls below 40 percent of median equivalised income. The level is therefore manifestly inadequate within the meaning of Article 12§1 of the Charter.
According to the ECSR regarding income-substituting benefits, the level of benefits should be such as to stand in reasonable proportion to the previous income and they should in any event not fall below 50 percent of the median equivalised income. However, where an income-substituting benefit stands between 40-50 percent of median equivalised income, the ECSR will also take into account other supplementary benefits, for example social assistance and housing allowance. This means that when the minimum level of an income-substituting benefit falls below 40% of median equivalised income, the Committee will not consider that its aggregation with other benefits can bring the situation into conformity.
The government says it takes this and the previous similar decision seriously. However, the government states that Finland's social security system consists of a whole which is also supplemented with various cost allowances such as housing allowance, medicine allowance, child allowance or disability allowance. In addition, free services and fee caps can be counted in the social security system. An individual social benefit thus does not necessarily describe the level of a person's social security as a whole. On this basis, the government considers that social security is not too low.
In 2021, the Human Rights Centre asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for information regarding the delays in the national execution of the decisions of the ECSR and judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The unreasonable delays are not consistent with Finland's human rights obligations, human rights policies or Finland's strong support for the Council of Europe.
The European Social Charter is a Council of Europe treaty that guarantees fundamental social and economic rights as a counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights, which refers to civil and political rights. It guarantees a broad range of everyday human rights related to employment, housing, health, education, social protection and welfare. The implementation of the European Social Charter by States Parties is supervised by the European Committee of Social Rights through the collective complaints procedure and the reporting system.