Delegation of the European Union to the

UN and other international organisations in Geneva

109th session of the International Labour Conference: Committee on Application of Standards: Discussion on the General Survey on Promoting employment and decent work in a changing landscape and its Addendum

Geneva, 04/06/2021 - 18:00, UNIQUE ID: 210609_3
Statements on behalf of the EU

I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*[1], Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

  1. At the outset, we would like to thank the Committee of Experts for the very well drafted report and its addendum. It provides a sound background for our discussions in this Committee and on the COVID-19 outcome document as well. Importantly, it will also provide a very useful reference for effective employment policies grounded in international labour standards.
  2. We would also like to commend the input of constituents into this general survey, which underlines their commitment to ensure full, productive and freely chosen employment.
  3. We look forward to an interesting and very timely discussion today, although we regret that due to the circumstances we only have three hours scheduled for this very important and broad subject area.
  4. The world of work has changed significantly in the last decade since the last discussion on employment instruments. Due to environmental and social changes, and as a result of technological advancements, there are new opportunities and challenges that governments have to take into account when designing employment policies and in their efforts, together with social partners, to ensure and promote decent work for all.
  5. In the last year, our labour markets have faced major upheaval, leaving hundreds of millions of people without income or with significantly reduced income, exacerbating poverty and widening inequalities. The COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of comprehensive employment policies that ensure that those most vulnerable on the labour market are not left behind. This is our opportunity to build back better and we must seize it.
  6. To this end, the European Union and its Member States are committed to a fair and just recovery from the crisis, which is reflected in our recovery plan, NextGenerationEU. Furthermore, we support these efforts globally as well, through the Team Europe Initiative. As of 1 January 2021, we have collected more than 40 billion euros to support our partner countries in dealing with the pandemic, including helping them rebound economically and promote decent work and full, productive and freely chosen employment.
  7. EU Member States coordinate their economic and employment policies through the European Semester. The Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy sets out sustainability, productivity, fairness and macroeconomic stability as the guiding principles underpinning national recovery and resilience plans.
  8. The ILO plays a unique, normative role in ensuring that economic growth goes hand-in-hand with decent work, and as such, should play a key, proactive role in addressing consequences of a changing world of work in line with the Centenary Declaration. The EU and its Member States continue to stand ready to support the ILO and effective multilateralism in employment and social policies.
  9. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the weak spots in our employment policies. People in the informal economy were in the front row of the socio-economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. Additional efforts are needed to foster the transition from the informal to the formal economy while also improving working conditions in the informal economy. It is also important to design inclusive employment policies, in consultation with social partners, and ensure labour protection for all, paying special attention to youth and women, as well as to vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers, workers from minorities, the low skilled and persons with disabilities.
  10. Regarding disability, the EU and its Member States note with satisfaction that significant progress has been made in addressing the situation of persons with disabilities on the labour market in the past decades. The European Accessibility Act adopted in 2019 addresses the obligation of the EU and its Member States to implement accessibility as arising from the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We remain committed to further promoting the rights and equal access of persons with disabilities to all areas of life, including employment, as also stated in the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030.
  11. Young people tend to be among those most exposed to economic shocks on the labour market. This is the case in this pandemic. Supporting them in finding employment, education or training is essential to ensure a healthy future for our labour markets and societies.
  12. Effective, evidence-based employment policies should be firmly rooted in relevant data of good quality. The ILO needs to assist constituents in strengthening the necessary collection and processing capacities and promote the benefits and rationale for better, gender- disaggregated data. This is important for the identification of challenges, monitoring of trends, and elaboration of solutions, including for establishing well-targeted active labour market policies.
  13. To successfully ensure a just and fair transition to an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future of work, it is paramount to reinforce skills development and lifelong learning, in order to support people’s transitions throughout their working lives and ensure that education and training systems are responsive to labour market needs. Re- and upskilling should be a crucial element of active labour market policies.
  14. The pandemic has accelerated the already emerging profound changes in the world of work. The EU and its Member States note that employment relationships still provide the most efficient channel for ensuring labour protection. While the evolution of the world of work might require the revision of certain notions, it is key that the labour protection standards and existing mechanisms of social protection are not diminished as a result.
  15. The EU and its Member States welcome the publication of the recent World Employment and Social Outlook on The role of digital labour platforms in transforming the world of work and call on the ILO to continue its efforts to explore the opportunities and challenges presented by the growth of these platforms and the gig economy. In this regard, we look forward to the tripartite meeting scheduled for 2022.
  16. The pandemic resulted in a new reality with an increasing number of people teleworking or working from home on a regular basis. Post-pandemic new forms of “hybrid work” are likely to emerge. As such, we believe that it would be opportune to hold in-depth discussions on how these changes in the world of work should be managed, including examining the concepts of Convention 177 on Home Work.
  17. As we are discussing the strategic response to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, we must keep in mind that employment is the best way out of poverty and so we stand ready to work together with all constituents and other relevant stakeholders to achieve full, productive and freely chosen employment around the world.

Thank you Chairperson

[1] *The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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