The article analyses the process of European fundamental rights positivisation in the framework of the Lisbon (‘new’) treaties on the Union, with an eye to most significant dynamics of ‘multilevel constitutionalism’. In this framework the article deals with problems of effectiveness of constitutional rights, especially social rights, as a result of the constitutionalization of the balanced-budget rule, strongly supported by the European institutions to combat the economic crisis in the EU member states. In the new constitutional framework, in fact, there seems to be a significant loss of consistency of social rights, being fundamental rights, in favour of European rules on monetary stability. The Italian Constitutional Court, looking for a balance between the respect of economic-monetary rules and the protection of fundamental rights, causes a reduction of the guarantee of social rights, within the limits of the ‘essential core’ of such guarantee as constitutionally scheduled. In this framework, the crisis of the welfare state at national level and the uncertainties about the future of Europe make up the scenario with which both the observer and the scholar are confronted.