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Thank you, Chairperson.
I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Montenegro* and Albania* as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
We commend the general interest of constituents covered in this general survey. Their interest confirms the wide international consensus on the crucial role of social protection in furthering human dignity, social cohesion, equality, social justice, as well as sustainable social and economic development. We share the conclusion that the Recommendation brings States closer to meeting their international human rights obligations in guaranteeing that everybody enjoys a life in health and dignity.
The survey shows that since the adoption of the Recommendation considerable progress has been achieved in many areas of the world, particularly as regards extending social protection and anchoring social security rights in law. Nevertheless, despite continuous efforts, more than half of the world population is not yet covered by social protection and wide gaps and disparities in protection remain. Moreover, demographic trends, such as ageing, or the development of new forms of work present new challenges to social security schemes. In this context it is ever more important that Member States also continue aiming for higher levels of protection to as many people as possible.
At European level, the European Pillar of Social Rights provides a compass for social and economic policy of both EU and its Member States. 10 out of the 20 principles of the Pillar are covering social protection.
As a follow-up to the European Pillar of Social Rights, EU Member States reached a political agreement on a Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed in December 2018. It provides guidance on how to address the gaps in protection faced by people outside standard employment, including new forms of work. The objective is to encourage Member States to allow all workers and the self-employed to adhere to social security schemes and be adequately and effectively covered by them.
These instruments are also an expression of our firm belief in the principle of social solidarity. As indicated in the report, effective and equitable redistribution mechanisms based on solidarity are crucial for achieving universal social protection and more specifically for developing comprehensive social security systems. Furthermore we acknowledge that social protection acts as an income cushion and a stabilizer in times of economic downturn, as well as a vehicle for bringing economies out of crises.
We also support the conclusion of the report that contributory (social insurance) schemes and non-contributory schemes are both essential components of national social protection floors, with a view to securing income security for all. At the same time, we also support the report’s emphasis on the idea of ‘social protection systems’ as being broader than ‘social protection floors’, and welcome the report’s call for policy coherence between social protection and broader social, economic and employment policies.
In this context we highly value ILO’s technical support to governments in the effective implementation of the Recommendation. We consider that it is essential to continue providing assistance on the formulation and monitoring of national social security extension strategies and policies, addressing in particular the informal economy, new forms of employment relationships, women and children, as well as people with disabilities. ILO should be also instrumental in fostering social dialogue for the effective design and implementation of the national schemes.
The EU as well stands available to share its successful practices in the area of social protection. Socieux+ is a EU technical assistance facility which fosters peer-to-peer relationship among EU Member States and partner countries for the design and creation of fair social and employment systems. Since 2013, it offers expert assistance to 138 countries on social insurance (contributory pensions, health, accident, unemployment protection) and social assistance (cash transfer programmes, income guarantee schemes, old ages benefits, child and disability grants). It has supported health financing reform and introduction of mandatory health insurance in Azerbaijan, the implementation of an employment Injury Insurance System for Malawi, different aspects of the pension reform and design of a training plan for the State Social Security Institutions in Mexico, just to name a few.
The EU is also an active member of the Social protection inter-agency cooperation Board, SPIAC-B, co-chaired by the ILO and the World Bank group, which supports countries to setting-up social protection floors in the framework of the ILO flagship program.
We reaffirm our commitment to achieving universal social protection as defined in SDG 1.3 as well as our support to the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection (USP 2030). We look forward to a fruitful discussion by the ILO’s tripartite constituents of possible further steps that can be taken to enable the Recommendation to achieve its full potential.
Today, at a time when we are taking a look into the future by discussing the Centenary Declaration, it is ever more important to step up the efforts in building comprehensive, universal, adequate and sustainable social protection schemes and ultimately guarantee that every human being enjoys a life in health and dignity.
Thank you Chairperson.
* Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.