Chair, I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Montenegro, Serbia and Albania as well as the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
We support the statement made by IMEC.
The EU and its Member States would like to thank the Office for paper GB.337/INS/7, which sets out the ILO’s proposed Research Strategy for the period 2020-21, building on the existing commitments in the Knowledge Strategy 2018-21 and taking into account the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work.
In order to support evidence-based policy making by constituents and related stakeholders, it is vital that the Office has robust and relevant research.
Chair, the EU and its Member States attach great importance to the independence of the research function, noting the importance of research integrity. ILO research can only be the world wide reference on employment and social matters and be relevant to its constituents if it is truly independent. Research, especially on the future of work, may bring disruptive or uncomfortable results. Its outcomes are not to be consensual, but instead, document reality and bring evidence-base for policy decisions. There is the risk that we - constituents - compromise this needed independence by inadvertently falling into micromanagement. While we see value in structured consultations on an annual basis, we consider the second track consultations of limited value to the consultation process.
We would like to recall in this context the reflections and commitments on the independence of research made at the time of the transformation of the International Institute of Labour Studies into ILO’s Research department.
We welcome the focus, in the light of the Centenary Declaration, on reinvigorating existing relationships with other UN agencies and international institutions with a stronger emphasis on research. This should result in improved quality of evidence, which is key for the development of policies across the multilateral system, which take the human-centred approach to the future of work as called for in the Centenary Declaration.
As the paper acknowledges, a stronger position on the international policy stage will advance the ILO’s evidence-based contributions to achieving the 2030 Agenda. In light of ILO’s role as custodian of several SDG indicators, we welcome the proposal in the Strategy to step up its research efforts in order to deliver this Agenda. The ILO’s wealth of knowledge and expertise, while central to delivery of Goal 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth, will also assist in delivery of the other SDGs in view of the cross cutting nature of the decent work agenda.
As regards the frontier issues outlined in the paper, we consider that looked at as a package they encompass the key issues around the Future of Work, which are addressed in the Centenary Declaration.
We recall that during the course of the Centenary Declaration discussions there was much focus on the impact of technological progress on decent work so targeted research which could capture these impacts would be welcome. We consider there is strong potential for added value research on the issue of decent work and sustainable development given previous ILO studies on aspects of this topic and also the Green Jobs Programme. We underline the need to further analyse all potential aspects, including the role of social dialogue, linked to the integration of decent work in climate policies in order to ensure the just transition towards climate neutral development.
Research on effective institutions to reduce inequalities and reduce poverty would be welcome in order to develop an evidence base to test the degree to which decent work can counteract inequalities. The issue of skill formation and its links to work transitions was another focus of the Centenary Declaration deliberations. We would welcome research in this regard which would also focus on the impacts on productivity growth and diversification of economies. The idea to focus on different workforce groups at specific life stages- including youth, family formation and older workers- is particularly welcome.
As regards the decision point, we would like to again recall that the EU and the Member States attach great importance to the independence of the research function, noting the importance of research integrity. We see no need for creation of a second track of consultations. With this being said, we can support the original decision point as proposed by the Office.
 Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.