New ECHR head stresses need for bold steps in social rights


President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday welcomed the newly elected president of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), judge Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, who became the first Greek to hold this position on April 1.

The ECHR’s role is “vital in safeguarding social rights and the welfare state,” Pavlopoulos commented during their meeting at the Presidential Mansion in Athens, pointing to the rise of the far-right across Europe.

“Inequalities and the collapse of the welfare state” are driving the rise of extreme forces, Pavlopoulos said, stressing that as Europeans we “need to defend ourselves against these structures.”

“The European court faces numerous challenges with regard to the economic crisis and refugee crisis, with cases relating to terrorism, a crisis in institutions and in the independence of justice, and even armed conflicts,” Sicilianos said.

“We have taken some steps in the issue of social rights, but they have been tentative,” he added, saying the steps needed to be “bolder.”