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Thank you, Chairperson.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Georgia align themselves with this statement.
We thank the Office for the most useful information presented in the Annual Review under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work for 2018.
We welcome the opportunity to provide our views on this important subject, contributing to the achievement of the goal of universal ratification of all fundamental Conventions. 123 ratifications covering 43 member States are still required before this goal is attained.
All countries that make up the European Union have ratified all eight fundamental conventions, and the Europe and Central Asia region became in 2017 the first region to have reached universal ratification. In 2019 when the ILO celebrates its Centenary, we call on all member States to step up their ratification efforts and join the ILO Centenary ratification campaign.
The EU regrets that the Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining Conventions Nos 87 and 98 - the cornerstones of the ILO work - are still the least ratified of the fundamental Conventions. We note that some development in terms of ratifications has taken place and urge the ILO to provide technical assistance for those countries that have requested it.
It is commendable that as of today 30 ILO Member States have ratified the Forced Labour Protocol, of which 14 are EU Member States. We note that 38 other ILO member States indicated their intention to ratify it. While these are positive developments, we highlight the importance of the “50 for Freedom” campaign to end modern slavery, launched by the ILO in collaboration with the International Organisation of Employers and the International Trade Union Confederation, calling for the ratification of the Protocol.
We stress the importance of the ILO to continue assisting member States in their efforts to respect, promote and implement fundamental principles and rights at work, through universal ratification and action. The European Union's practice and experience, including on social dialogue, can be a valuable resource in this regard. A specific expert facility – SOCIEUX +- can notably be used to that aim.
Finally, we thank also those member States who have reported to the ILO on the status of ratification of their countries in spite of challenges and technical difficulties they may have encountered with the newly introduced online reporting. We trust that along with improvements leading to a more user-friendly online reporting application the relatively low reporting rates will increase significantly next year.