Delegation of the European Union

to the International Organisations in Vienna

International Labour Conference 109th session: EU Statement - Committee on Application of Standards

Geneva, 03/06/2021 - 17:57, UNIQUE ID: 210603_20
Statements on behalf of the EU


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

The Candidate Countries 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. Allow me to welcome and extend the best wishes to the Chair of the Committee, Vice‑Chairs and the Rapporteur.
  2. We welcome, not only with immense satisfaction but also with relief, that the discussion at the Committee on the Application of Standards finally takes place after a one–year deferral. We strongly believe in the fundamental importance of international labour standards and their effective and authoritative supervision, especially during crises, such as the on resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. We highly appreciate the analysis of the Committee of Experts in the General Report, in particular the guidance offered with regard to the path to recovery and resilience. This report provides a solid basis for the work of our committee.
  4. All EU Member States have ratified all fundamental ILO Conventions and we truly believe that ratification, implementation of and compliance with these Conventions not only contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights, including labour rights, but also to the larger objectives of building social and economic stability, as well as inclusive societies all over the world. This commitment is reaffirmed in the EU’s trade agreements and unilateral trade preferences, as well as through continuous support for ILO technical assistance in the field.
  5. We fully share the Report’s premise that international labour standards have a central role in preventing further socio-economic regression and in putting recovery efforts on a more stable footing. International labour standards, their full implementation and their effective and authoritative supervision are a fundamental part of the recovery from this crisis. This is also in line with the Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work.
  6. As pointed out by the Report, the crisis poses a risk that labour conditions deteriorate globally. However, the crisis situation does not authorise to suspend obligations under ratified international labour standards. More importantly, it stresses the need for living up to them and any derogations should be exercised within clearly defined limits of legality, necessity, proportionality and non–discrimination. We share the Committee of Experts’ view that recovery measures should never weaken the protection afforded by labour laws, as that would only further undermine social cohesion and stability, and erode citizens’ trust in public policies. We therefore underline the critical importance of effective forms of social dialogue to elaborate and implement responses grounded in respect for rights at work. Similarly, the continued support and provision of comprehensive policy guidance and technical assistance from the ILO cannot be overstated.
  7. The EU and its Member States are convinced that a well–functioning supervisory system is also critical to ensure the credibility of the Organization’s work as a whole. The ILO’s leadership has proven crucial in addressing challenges identified by the Report, such as poverty, inequalities, discrimination and marginalisation, especially of those most vulnerable.
  8. We note with regret that there are immense challenges to ensure the safety and health of workers around the world; the pressures on creating robust, flexible and shock resilient social security systems; the questioning of the value of employment policies; as well as the use of the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext for acts of anti-union discrimination. In this regard, international labour standards provide guidance to lay the foundations for an inclusive and sustainable recovery.
  9. The EU and its Member States are particularly worried that child labour, especially in its worst forms, as well as forced labour are exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic. We must ensure that the progress made towards eliminating forced labour and child labour over recent years is not reversed.
  10. The EU and its Member States will continue to fully support the ILO’s supervisory system and the promotion of international labour standards. We remain convinced that it is one of the most valuable examples of a multilateral rules-based order, which has gained even more importance during this crisis.
  11. We are looking forward to constructive engagement with all constituents during the debate in this Committee.
  12. Thank you Chair

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


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