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Statements in International Organisations


ILO Governing Body (ESP Committee, Geneva): The Decent Work Agenda in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs): Recent Developments

Statement on behalf of the Presidency of the EU (Speaker Mr. Marc Boisnel, Delegation to the European and International Affairs, Ministry of Labour, Social Relations and Solidarity)

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Mr. Chairman,

1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

2. The EU thanks the ILO Office for its paper presented to the Committee on Employment and Social Policy “The Decent Work Agenda in Poverty. Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs): Recent developments” which reports an update of the close relationship between the Decent Work Agenda, Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs) and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) across countries and also highlights some of the more innovative outcomes of ILO `s engagements with the PRS process including the integration with the DWCP process.

3. The implementation of the ILO Decent Work Agenda remains high in the EU priorities. We wish to play pivotal role in promoting the commitment of the international community to the uptake of decent work as it is strongly linked to the basic conditions of livelihood for millions of people in the context of the globalisation process and sustainable development.

4. Therefore, EU wishes to reiterate, once again, its commitment to the implementation of the Copenhagen Summit outcomes as well as to the Millennium Declaration and emphasise the importance of Decent Work Agenda for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

5. The EU reaffirms, in the context of the 2005 European Consensus on Development, its commitments to poverty eradication, national ownership, partnership, and delivering more and better aid while promoting policy coherence for development. It has guided Community and Member States to strengthening cooperation activities in developing countries, in a spirit of complementarity.

6. The European Commission Communication on “Promoting Decent Work for all” adopted in May 2006 aims to help promote the decent work agenda both inside and outside the EU. It recognises the importance of taking into due consideration each country’s own economic and social reality, and of incorporating a wide range of stakeholders, to help partner countries take ownership and tackle priorities at national and regional level. The EU will be reporting on progress in 2008.

7. The EU would like to highlight the realization of the first ILO Forum on Decent Work for a Fair Globalization hosted by the EU Presidency and supported by the European Commission, that took place in Lisbon from 31 October to 2 November 2007. In the context of the follow-up of the 2005 UN World Summit and the 2004 report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation. The link between growth, investment and employment, social protection, addressing the decent work deficits in the informal economy and policy coherence amongst international organisations was discussed.

8. Also, we would like to remind the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2006 Ministerial Declaration on Employment and Decent Work and the latest Ministerial Statement by African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, reaffirming the centrality of the implementation of decent work in the second generation of PRS`s.

Mr. Chairman,

9. The EU recognizes that the new generation of Poverty Reduction Strategies have become much more sensitive to decent work goals by seeking the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, especially poverty eradication, full employment and social integration.

10. The Decent Work Agenda is based on an integrated approach covering productive and freely chosen work, rights at work, social protection, the social dialogue and the inclusion of the gender dimension. It seeks not only to guarantee a minimum basis of rights but also to tailor development to values and principles of action and governance which combine economic competitiveness with social justice.

Mr. Chairman,

11. The EU would like to focus on four key areas presented in the paper which seem to be very positive development concerning the integration of decent work goals across the range of PRS`s:

1. Firstly a better uptake of decent work goals is presented in many different ways across the Agenda in Poverty Reduction Strategies. We agree that this integration is not static and has been evolving over time. Increasingly the new generation of PRSPs are definitely more employment friendly. The ILO can indeed claim its share in this positive outcome. To build on this there should be an effort to develop stronger partnerships. For example, we would welcome further involvement by the ILO in UN reform and more links with UNDAFs;

2. Secondly, EU agrees that the quality of participation of tripartite partners in PRSP`s has generally improved although a country-specific assessment is more pertinent. This capacity-building support to social partners has proven an important element of the overall ILO strategy determining the quality and content of participation in the PRS process;

3. Thirdly, the new Regional Poverty Reduction Strategy which has been mostly in the African regions, is gaining ground in other regions too, as a tool for improving the effectiveness of countries PRSPs through integration of the regional dimensions of poverty and provision of a framework for a dialogue between the member States and the partners; and

4. Fourthly, finally, the ILO plays a major role in facilitating the implementation and integration of the Decent Work Agenda into the PRSs and a fair and inclusive globalization. It is vital that the integration of decent work in PRSPs is properly funded, evaluated, and reported on.

Mr. Chairman,

12. EU would like to stress same areas mentioned in the paper where specific improvements should be achieved in a timely manner:

  • Workers’ rights and social dialogue are often not incorporated systematically in PRSP documents. We are of the view that further efforts should be made to incorporate the core labour standards in PRSPs, and other labour standards if determined by country-specific priorities.
  • The employment and poverty linkage should be reinforced within all dimensions of development policy such as macroeconomic, trade, financial and investment policies, taking I to account that this is a strategic issue.
  • Social protection is generally recognised as an important issue in PRSs and PRSPs. However factor PRSPs should develop an operational long-term strategy for attaining the goal of social protection for all;
  • The access to timely information by social partners and their participation in implementation and monitoring processes remain key issues. This is particularly true in countries that do not have established practices of social dialogue and strong tripartite mechanisms for follow-up. In this regard there could be some reflexion on what the ILO can do to improve social partners’ participation.

13. In order to achieve a Fair Globalization we should be progressing with effort to implement policy coherence, by developing other dimensions for reflection related to the Decent Work Agenda and Poverty Reduction strategy.

14. In the context of maximization and sharing of the advantages of globalization and the necessary mitigation of its adverse effects, productive employment and decent work can make a significant contribution towards reaching the internationally-agreed development goals and to the attainment of both social and economic progress. Therefore, we should be progressing with this effort to implement policy coherence, by developing other dimensions for reflection related to the Decent Work Agenda and Poverty Reduction strategy for a Fair Globalization.

15. The EU strongly believes that good practices should be identified and widespread. Economic development, social cohesion, employment and globalisation are mutually reinforcing and important aspects of the dialogue processes the EU currently undertakes with other regions and groups of countries.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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Date: 15.04.2008