European Union External Action

EU Statement – United Nations General Assembly: World Day of Social Justice

New York, 23/02/2021 - 17:03, UNIQUE ID: 210222_21
Statements on behalf of the EU

23 February 2021, New York – European Union Statement by H.E. Ambassador Olof Skoog, Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, on the World Day of Social Justice event on “A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy” and New York launch of the 2021 ILO WESO Report

The EU thanks the ILO and Kyrgyzstan for organising this important event. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected our societies and economies. It is having a serious impact on social development and it is exacerbating inequalities worldwide. COVID-19 has put global gains in social development at risk.  The health crisis has triggered a social and economic crisis that adds to the profound changes in the world of work.

We share a world of work in transformation. The combined effects of globalisation, technological, environmental, climate and demographic change continue to transform work at an unprecedented pace and scale. We need to stay on the trajectory set out in the 2030 Development Agenda and benefit from the twin green and digital transitions to enable fairer and more inclusive societies. Together we need to make sure that the digital transition caters to all, has a human centred outlook and contributes to sustainable development.

Sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is only possible if we place social justice, decent work and human dignity at the centre of policy decisions. Effective implementation of international labour standards should be at the core of the response to the crisis. Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are important enabling rights. Universal social protection is crucial as well. Not only does it improve people’s livelihoods and increases their resilience but it also has been proven to have a positive impact on productivity and the economy.

Given the potential of digital technology to promote social development and people’s well-being, safe, affordable and meaningful access to it is of utmost importance. Leaving no one behind means leaving no one offline. This however also means that we need to mitigate the risks and threats and that we need to grant the same rights online as offline. Given the huge potential, digital technologies should get a prominent part in the COVID-10 recovery strategies.

In the coming week (March 3) the EU will adopt an Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. Our response at home aims to prioritise job creation and quality transitions, skilling and re-skilling, addressing the impact of digitalisation on working conditions and on social protection systems, reinforcing the support to social dialogue, and combatting inequalities and poverty. This is part of the EU’s strong commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

The EU supports the UN Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and the SGs call for action to connect, respect and protect all people in the digital age.

In that context, the EU also welcome todays’ launch of the 2021 ILO World Employment and Social Outlook (WESO) Report.  It makes clear that there is a need to gain momentum in the UN for digital labour platforms. Leaving no one behind also means not leaving workers in the informal sector and the platform economy behind. They often lack access to adequate social protection as well as fundamental principles and rights at work.  In the current health crisis, vulnerabilities of people working through platforms have become more visible than ever, for example access to social protection. The sustainable growth of the platform economy requires improved legal clarity for platforms and better working conditions for people working through these digital labour platforms. The EU is currently looking into the main challenges facing people working through platforms and concrete ways to improve their working conditions. A dialogue with different stakeholders is a fundamentally important step in the process of defining an EU initiative on platform work. We do this in cooperation with the ILO. We plan to present concrete steps for improving the working conditions of people working through platforms by the end of 2021.

Of course, measures adopted by the European Union alone will not suffice to solve global challenges. Strengthening international cooperation, in particular in the framework of the International Labour Organisation, is crucial in our endeavour to ensure social justice for all.

Building back better together in this Decade of Action is key.  The post-COVID world will require more solidarity and cooperation to meet the promise of the 2030 Agenda.  The EU is committed to do its share.

Thank you.


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