Ambassador, Representative of the ILO
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I first extend a slightly belated Happy New Year to our Chinese colleagues. On behalf of the EU and in my personal capacity I would like to express our sadness over the current epidemic which disproportionally affect the Hubei Province in China, and send on the occasion of this event a message of solidarity to the people of China.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,
It is my pleasure to participate at this side-event on the occasion of the UN Commission for Social Development, to discuss our experiences and the challenges in providing universal social protection systems that leave no one behind.
The realisation of the SDGs and Agenda 2030 is in our collective interest and our commitment to it is unshakable. This year is a very important one as we are celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and the 35th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. In accelerating our actions to achieve the Agenda 2030, we must also strive to ensure that the Commission for Social Development effectively contributes to the realisation of the social aspects of the AGENDA 2030 and that its work is aligned with the High level political Forum.
Today’s event is about social protection. For us the realisation of civil and political rights goes hand in hand with the fulfilment of social and economic rights, and the right to development naturally implies also respect of fundamental rights, including the rights of opinion and the freedom of expression. One cannot be used as an excuse to neglect the other.
Sustainability is an overriding political priority for the EU and our peoples’ wellbeing is at the center of our political agenda. Achieving prosperity and social fairness is a fundamental promise on which the European Union has to deliver. The EU project rests on a strong social model with fair wages and decent living for all. This commitment applies to all our policies. Our Green Deal, our commitment to a carbon-neutral continent, foresees a just transition, one in which the weakest are going to be catered for. Our digital policy aims at protecting those who are most vulnerable and at risk of exclusion. The European economic model is an inclusive one in which all, regardless of age, gender, origin, or disability find their fulfilment. We promote a strong social dialogue, high social protection standards and improved working conditions for all our workers.
Social Europe is at the heart of our democratic, cohesive and prosperous societies, together with the respect for human rights. It means economic and social progress, fighting against discrimination and social exclusion, allowing workers to associate freely and bargain collectively to fight for their rights. This is why the EU will continue to call on all countries not to hinder the work of trade unionists.
All EU MS have already ratified the eight fundamental ILO conventions and are party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the EU actively promotes the ratification of these key conventions, including by China.
We, China and EU, have a long-standing cooperation. This is the third consecutive year that we organise side events during CSocD (last year we focused on Pro-active employment policies). China has become a key economic and political partner for Europe in many aspects. For this reason both the EU and China have a mutual strategic interest to develop better understanding of the transformations taking place in our economies and societies. 2020 is an important year for the EU and China as it marks 45th anniversary of our diplomatic relations.
Social protection for all is challenge to which both China and the EU give high priority including in terms of tackling inequalities. In this context, the essential role of social protection systems in preventing poverty, reducing inequality and economic insecurity and promoting social cohesion must be reaffirmed. They have a role to play in helping us address the changes, opportunities and challenges our societies live through, such as demographic evolution, digitalisation and transition to climate neutrality. Ageing and globalisation make it even more important to provide better protection for women, migrant workers, and those in precarious or atypical jobs. Social protection plays a key role in ensuring that these changes and transitions are socially fair and just.
In that respect, the EU-China Social Protection Reform Project, recently implemented by a consortium of European partners led by the Italian Institute of Social Security (INPS), with the National Reform and Development Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Civil Affairs as direct beneficiaries, allowed us to share best practices and experiences on ways to strengthen the institutional capacity top implement legal and regulatory frameworks and social insurance and social assistance systems and financial management in the area of social security. We are continuing our support in this direction by means of a new project launched last year together with the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the ILO, whose aim is to promote universal social protection.
EU-China cooperation on employment and social policy can be very helpful in better understanding how concrete policies and actions can contribute to fairer and more inclusive labour markets and in realising the SDGs in practice.
We are here today to learn from each other, to exchange policy approaches, and learn from good or innovative practices.
My very best wishes for a successful event.