Thank you, Chair.
I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this Statement.
We support the IMEC statement.
We welcome this opportunity to comment on the implementation of the action plan to follow up on the conclusions adopted by the International Labour Conference with regard to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Employment Creation.
We welcome in particular that work started on the generation of knowledge as the lack of data on SMEs has been an issue we have stressed throughout the Conference’s discussion.
We note that present outputs in this field focus on the review of the Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (EESE) programme and on what works in SME development.
We very much welcome the work started on good practices for the procurement of goods and services from SMEs by large enterprises within supply chains, on which too little attention has been paid so far. It is important that actions undertaken by the Office in the connected areas of decent work in SMEs and decent work in global supply chains are linked.
We welcome the effort that has been placed in generating new knowledge on the evidence regarding the effectiveness of SME interventions, particularly the six impact assessments that have been carried out globally. In particular, we appreciate the focus on the role that that SMEs can play to create new jobs for women and vulnerable groups. We invite the Office to consider including in its research the impact that SMEs can have in creating jobs for youth and migrants
We note with interest that the expansion of the Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (EESE) programme has started in more countries than initially planned and that a concept note has been developed to support high growth SMEs while at the same time paying attention to synergies between productivity and job quality in SMEs.
In line with our comments when the action plan was endorsed last year, we would welcome the Office to explain
As to the research on the impact of social dialogue and collective bargaining on working conditions in SMEs, the report states that it has not begun because resources are not yet available. We consider that this is unfortunate as the topic relates to areas at core of ILO mandate and of importance in the European Union. We therefore would welcome the Office to explain how priorities were established in implementing the plan and whether cooperation between departments is envisaged in this field.
One aspect we are missing in the report is progress on partnership building. As we did last year, we would like to stress the importance for the ILO to closely cooperate with other international organizations, such as UNCTAD, OECD and the World Bank. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development leads to increased attention for SMEs throughout the multilateral system and the ILO is in a good position to add value to work on SMEs in line with its mandate and also benefit from the work of other organizations.
Different parts of the report and the conclusions point to the lack of resources in implementing the action plan to implement the 2015 ILC conclusions on SMEs. We consider that we should not see this action plan as additional activities to the ordinary work of the Office but look at it in the wider context of the Office’s work on the promotion of SMEs and in other areas. We consider our examination of this progress report therefore to inform the programme and budget discussions.
Chair, the work on SMEs needs attention. There is global recognition of the potential of SMEs to contribute to growth, productive employment and decent work for all, including through target 8.3 of the 2030 Agenda. Within the EU, over the past years around 85% of newly created jobs were created in SMEs. In the EU and in many other parts of the world, investment in the growth and innovation potential of SMEs will be decisive for our future prosperity.
We support the decision point and look forward to discuss a second progress report next year.
Thank you, Chair.
*The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.