The article deals with social rights, their (constitutional or only legislative) discipline and their related evolution in the framework of European and Italian constitutionalism, as well as in the European integration process. The topic is analysed with regard to issues posed by economic crisis and constitutional changes resulting from decisions taken at European level. The balanced budget rule, now constitutionalised in a large part of EU Member States, arises as limit to discretion of national lawmakers, with the risk of contraction of public services and consequent impact on the essential levels of benefits relating to civil and social entitlements in terms of dignified existence and standards of care. The article discusses finally the relationships between social rights, market demands and the European integration process. We must fully understand this process if, as currently configured, cannot fully guarantee the constitutional protection at national level of the right of work and to work. In this respect some recent European Court of Justice decisions raise questions and doubts. For this reason, the matter of judicial guarantees of fundamental rights between national constitutions and new ‘European’ Treatises deserves attention.