Category Archives: Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Internationally, as on its own territory, the EU strives to ensure that economic development is accompanied by social progress. It has therefore made social issues a subject of its external relations, both in the context of fair and sustainable globalisation and with a view to future enlargements. At international level, it advocates compliance with core labour standards, which it considers an integral part of human rights. It also takes an active part in the defence of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, and promotes the establishment of a fair economic system. In the specific case of the process of accession to the EU, this approach is reflected in the obligation on candidate countries to adopt established Community law (the Community acquis).

Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Internationally, as on its own territory, the EU strives to ensure that economic development is accompanied by social progress. It has therefore made social issues a subject of its external relations, both in the context of fair and sustainable globalisation and with a view to future enlargements. At international level, it advocates compliance with core labour standards, which it considers an integral part of human rights. It also takes an active part in the defence of equal opportunities and non-discrimination, and promotes the establishment of a fair economic system. In the specific case of the process of accession to the EU, this approach is reflected in the obligation on candidate countries to adopt established Community law (the Community acquis).

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

  • Promoting decent work for all
  • Extending the benefits of the social dimension of globalisation to all
  • Social development in the context of globalisation
  • Strengthening of maritime labour standards
  • The link between the multilateral trading system and labour standards
  • World Summit for Social Development

MEASURES FOR TARGET GROUPS

  • Europe’s response to world ageing
  • Promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities at international level
  • Fourth United Nations Conference on Women

ENLARGEMENT

Ongoing enlargement

  • Croatia – Employment and Social Affairs
  • Turkey – Employment and social policy
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Employment and Social Policy
  • Iceland – Employment and social policy

Enlargement of January 2007

  • Bulgaria
  • Romania

Enlargement of May 2004: 10 new Member States

  • Cyprus
  • Hungary
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Poland
  • The Czech Republic
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

Promoting decent work for all

Promoting decent work for all

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promoting decent work for all

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social inclusion and the fight against poverty

Promoting decent work for all


Another Normative about Promoting decent work for all

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Promoting decent work for all

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 24 May 2006 – Promoting decent work for all – the EU contribution to the implementation of the decent work agenda in the world [COM(2006) 249 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Decent working conditions contribute to development, good governance and economic performance. For many emerging and developing countries, globalisation and economic growth do not result in improvements in social conditions or respect for human rights or a reduction in poverty.

This Communication proposes political guidelines to strengthen the EU contribution to the decent work agenda of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). It champions a global approach in order to act both on the defence of fundamental social rights and on the conditions of economic and social development. This strategy should be adapted to the situation of each country.

Acting through external policies

Enlargement policy and the pre-accession strategy make it possible to strengthen:

  • trade union freedom, collective bargaining and the capacity of trade unions;
  • labour administration, especially labour inspectorates and social protection;
  • health and safety at work.

Neighbourhood policy is a gradual process which involves in particular:

  • commitments in the area of fundamental social rights;
  • regular political dialogue with the EU;
  • the integration of decent work in the cooperation instruments and cooperation between partner countries and EU agencies.

The EU promotes decent work and social dialogue as part of its regional and bilateral relations. These issues have been integrated into the cooperation agreements with Latin America, the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) and India. They are part of political discussions with Asian countries, especially the Asia-Europe discussions (ASEM).

In the context of development cooperation, the European Consensus on Development identifies decent work as a priority. The European programmes support the following in particular:

  • integrating decent work into development strategies and strategies to combat poverty;
  • the participation of the social partners and civil society;
  • improving the capacity of the authorities and civil society;
  • budgetary support and social adjustment for countries involved in trade liberalisation;
  • development of small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • cooperation of partners and the international and regional organisations concerned.

European external trade policy contributes to sustainable development. The new Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) enables the EU to promote fundamental social rights. Future bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations should take account of:

  • the GSP+ for good governance and sustainable development;
  • the assessment of the impact of opening trade;
  • the mobilisation of European external aid policies and instruments;
  • the interaction between trade, social rights and employment;
  • the promotion of cooperation between the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the ILO.

International governance

International organisations and international financial institutions should take account of existing connections between decent work and economic migration, and of the level of trade, economic growth and investment.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Enterprises have a role which complements legislation, collective bargaining and control of working conditions. The drafting of codes of conduct and CSR instruments should be encouraged. They should be based on standards recognised at international level.

Related Acts

Commission working document – Report on the EU contribution to the promotion of decent work in the world [SEC(2008) 2184 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Since 2006, European institutions have mobilised on the issue of decent work and progress has been made at global level. In particular, the processes of ratification and development of ILO conventions have made progress. A number of challenges lie ahead:

  • recognition of decent work as a priority of international development and poverty reduction objectives;
  • labour market transition to a low carbon economy;
  • applying the ILO conventions and improving labour market governance, despite the importance of the informal economy in most of the emerging or developing countries.

Communication from the Commission to the European Council – Strategic report on the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs: launching the new cycle (2008-2010) – Keeping up the pace of change [COM(2007) 803 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Joint declaration by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on the development policy of the European Union entitled “The European Consensus on Development [Official Journal C 46 of 24.2.2006].

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – The Social Dimension of Globalisation – The EU’s policy contribution on extending the benefits to all [COM(2004) 383 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

EUROPEAN SOCIAL AGENDA

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Renewed social agenda: Opportunities, access and solidarity in 21st century Europe [COM(2008) 412 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Communication from the Commission on the Social Agenda [COM(2005) 33 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

World Summit for Social Development

World Summit for Social Development

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about World Summit for Social Development

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

World Summit for Social Development

On the occasion of the World Summit for Social Development, the European Union highlights the need to work towards balanced and sustainable economic and social progress at international level.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 21 December 1994 – the European Union’s priorities for the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, March 1995) [COM(1994) 669 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Social development cannot be dissociated from democracy; the respect for human rights implies the participation of the whole of civil society, including via dialogue between employers and workers.

Structural measures, at national as well as international level, must take their place in economic policy-making with a view to ensuring the sustainability of growth and preventing the development of excessive inequalities.

The EU’s main objectives are as follows:

  • all countries should set and phase in social development objectives in accordance with their level of development;
  • advancement of social rights by encouraging countries to ratify ILO conventions and ensuring compliance with them;
  • reduction of excessive inequalities should be a specific objective of social development policies;
  • better coordination of cooperation and development policies;
  • explicit inclusion of social development in the policies recommended by international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank;
  • international free movement of capital, which is vital to development.

On a bilateral level, the EU should undertake to:

  • give priority, in development cooperation programmes agreed between the EU and its partners, to job creation and the fight against poverty;
  • give priority, in granting aid and trade preferences, to countries which adopt genuine and effective social development strategies.

Cost/efficiency and targeting of official development aid (ODA) need to be improved.

The issue of development resources needs to be looked at in a wider context, on the basis of the following priorities:

  • adoption of domestic policies geared towards efficiency and fairness (by ensuring proper access to productive resources and markets, redirecting public spending towards precise social development objectives, etc.);
  • encouraging the flow of capital and the transfer of technology and know-how to developing countries and economies in transition.

The EU will continue its efforts to eradicate poverty and integrate all sections of society (massive creation of jobs, prevention of social exclusion, overhauling of social protection systems).

The EU, as the major provider of development aid, is determined to continue to make a substantial contribution to international action.

Related Acts

Commission Recommendation 2000/581/EC of 15 September 2000 on the ratification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No 182 of 17 June 1999 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour [Official Journal L 243 of 28.09.2000].

ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998

The Declaration confirms the core labour standards as identified by the Copenhagen Summit and states that all ILO members, even if they have not yet ratified the basic conventions, are required by virtue of their ILO membership to promote and to comply with the principles related to the fundamental rights set out in the ILO Conventions.

In order to promote the universal application of core labour standards, a control mechanism, a monitoring system and technical assistance were introduced.

Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, March 1995 (Declaration and Programme of Action)

The Summit provided an opportunity to identify universal core labour standards for the first time: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, effective abolition of child labour, elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

The Commission for Social Development is responsible, within the United Nations Economic and Social Council, for the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development, and in particular for examining the application of the Copenhagen Declaration and the Summit’s Programme of Action.

On 14 February 1997 the Commission adopted a Communication to the Council and the European Parliament on the European Union’s follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development [COM(96) 724 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

As the policies introduced in Europe already broadly cover the undertakings given in Copenhagen, the aim of the Communication is to consider what specific follow-up action the European Union should take in the five areas identified.

A. Developing the social dimension in the international institutional framework: globalisation reduces the autonomy of policies, which means that greater international cooperation is required in the major forums (UN, ILO, IMF, World Bank, WTO, G7, etc.).

B. Incorporating respect for basic social rights and promoting social and human development in bilateral agreements: in its bilateral relations and when granting aid and trade preferences, the Community should give priority to the countries which take specific measures to meet the Copenhagen commitments (promotion of workers’ basic rights, application of the ILO conventions or compliance with their principles). The Commission proposes granting, by common accord, at least 20% of public Community assistance to the development of basic social programmes, with at least 20% of public expenditure in the developing countries being earmarked for the same aims.

C. Incorporating the fight against poverty into development action and continuing efforts to combat marginalisation within the Community: in the dialogue with the developing countries, the Community could, as a matter of course, consider an analysis of the poverty situation and assess national political action to combat inequality. It is also important to ensure that, in the Union, everyone benefits from economic progress.

D. Keeping employment as the top priority for economic and social policy: it would be helpful to pass on the priority given by the Union to combating unemployment and to compare it with other initiatives in a wider international context (ILO, G7, etc.).

E. Ensuring respect for and protection of immigrants and combating racism and xenophobia: the Community intends to take other measures as part of the European Year against Racism (1997).

In the spirit of the Copenhagen Summit, the Commission consults civil society on a whole series of social issues in a forum organised every 18 months.

An assessment of the internal and external aspects of Union policies will be presented in the year 2000.

The Medium-term Social Action Programme adopted by the Commission on 12 April 1995 (COM(95) 134 final) includes a large number of proposals responding to the commitments made at the Copenhagen summit.

On 3 February 1995 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the European Union’s priorities for the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, March 1995).

The link between the multilateral trading system and labour standards

The link between the multilateral trading system and labour standards

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The link between the multilateral trading system and labour standards

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

The link between the multilateral trading system and labour standards

The European Union is exploring the prospect of discussions at the WTO on the link between the multilateral trading system and internationally recognised labour standards, while taking account of the fundamental principle of respecting the comparative advantage of developing countries.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, of 24 July 1996, on the link between the trading system and internationally recognised labour standards [COM(1996) 402 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The citizens of Europe and the political authorities cannot remain indifferent to infringements of human rights in the context of labour relations, which can take the form of the deprivation of fundamental freedoms (slavery, forced labour, exploitation of children or the prohibition of association and collective bargaining).

The European Union must seek to guarantee respect for fundamental freedoms that can bring about working and living standards corresponding to the level of economic development and the social structures of the countries concerned.

The Commission favours the adoption of a gradual approach based on fundamental human rights that would not undermine the right of developing countries to use their comparative advantage of abundant, cheap labour. The Commission believes that these questions should be broached within the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The study begun in 1994 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on “trade, employment and internationally recognised labour standards” focuses on a series of universally recognised core labour standards: freedom of association and collective bargaining, elimination of exploitative forms of child labour, prohibition of forced labour, non-discrimination in employment. The study concludes that the economic effects of these standards are likely to be small and that they will not negatively affect the economic performance or the international competitive position of developing countries.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has set up a working group on the social dimension of liberalising international trade. Because of the difficulties encountered, the group agreed to suspend further discussion on whether to create a linkage between international trade and labour standards by introducing a social clause and a penalty mechanism.

At the Copenhagen Social Summit the heads of state and government throughout the world acknowledged that these core labour standards are best reflected by the ILO Conventions on the subject.

In the context of its new GSP (General System of Preferences) arrangements, the Union has introduced two types of autonomous measures:

  • possibility of withdrawing some or all of the preferences granted to countries which countenance slavery or forced labour;
  • “special incentive schemes” granting additional preferences to countries which so request and which comply with the ILO Conventions on freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining and on child labour.

At bilateral level, the cooperation agreements which the Union has concluded with non-Community countries cover economic and social cooperation: programmes of financial and technical assistance as regards education, the participation of women in economic development, etc.

Since 1992 it has also been necessary for every agreement concluded with non-Community countries to contain a clause on human rights. This clause refers to all rights, not only civil and political rights, but also to development, and to economic, social and cultural rights.

At multilateral level, the Commission emphasises the role of:

  • the ILO, which appears to be the most appropriate institution for examining issues relating to the promotion of labour standards;
  • the WTO, which is the natural forum for debating the links between trade and labour standards.

The ILO has mechanisms for monitoring the application of international labour conventions. However, none of its procedures involves the possibility of sanctions; the mechanisms in place have a moral impact (particularly on public opinion) but are not coercive. The promotion of labour standards will entail improving the ILO’s efficiency and upgrading its monitoring systems.

Any discussions within the WTO should have as their point of departure three significant aspects:

  • the convergence of the objectives pursued by the multilateral trade system and the promotion of labour standards;
  • a multilateral approach to respond to the emergence of unilateral trade policies linked to the promotion of labour standards;
  • the impact of the application of universal labour standards on international competitiveness, particularly in the case of developing countries.

The Commission proposes that the Council seeks to establish a working party, at the WTO’s Singapore Ministerial Conference from 9 to 13 December 1996, to investigate the link between the multilateral trading system and core labour standards.

RELATED ACTS

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 18 September 2002 entitled “Trade and development –” [COM(2002) 513 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

OECD study on international trade and core labour standards (1996, updated in 2000)

The study discusses the interaction between trade liberalisation and the application of core labour standards. It shows that countries that fail to comply with core labour standards do not enjoy a competitive advantage in international trade, do not attract direct foreign investment, and do not perform more effectively on the export front. Conversely, the study shows that more stringent core labour standards can stimulate economic growth and efficiency.

Conclusions of the Council of October 1999 on trade and labour

The Council highlighted the importance of the Singapore declaration and set out the Union’s position on trade and social development, with an eye to the WTO ministerial conference in Seattle in November 1999.

The EU has a duty to do more to help protect core labour standards and thus support the work of the ILO and cooperate with the WTO. The Union is firmly opposed to any approach which is based on sanctions and will oppose any initiative to use workers’ rights for protectionist purposes.

Ministerial declaration of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Singapore in 1996

The WTO supports the promotion of internationally recognised core labour standards and believes that economic growth and development fostered by increased trade and further trade liberalisation contribute to the promotion of these standards.

Relations between international trade and working conditions, particularly as regards the issue of sanctions, are a sensitive topic. The declaration therefore points out that the WTO rejects the use of labour standards for protectionist purposes. The comparative advantage of countries, particularly low-wage developing countries, must in no way be put into question.

For further information, please consult the website of the World Trade Organisation.

Social development in the context of globalisation

Social development in the context of globalisation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Social development in the context of globalisation

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Social development in the context of globalisation

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee – Promoting core labour standards and improving social governance in the context of globalisation [COM(2001) 416 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

Citizens are increasingly aware that global market governance has developed more quickly than global social governance, leading to unbalanced economic and social rules and structures.

With an eye to participating in the realisation of an equitable global economic system, the European Union presents a strategy to promote social development and core labour standards at global level.

The interface between globalisation and the promotion of international labour standards is complex. Trade and investments have a definite impact on social development, and more generally on sustainable development. To ensure that this strategy is effective a comprehensive approach is necessary.

In line with the approach of the Council on Trade and Employment of October 1999, the European Commission proposes reaffirming the universality of internationally recognised core labour standards (freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, effective abolition of child labour, elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation). The Commission also recalls its support for the work of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and its collaboration with other international organisations, notably the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The rejection of approaches based on core labour standards for protectionist purposes or sanctions-based approaches is also reiterated.

The Commission encourages both making use of and strengthening existing tools and adopting instruments and measures designed to encourage the universal application of core labour standards in various fields of action, both at European and international levels.

Strategy at international level

The Union confirms the key role of the ILO in promoting compliance with core labour standards and affirms the need to reinforce the effectiveness of the ILO’s instruments. Hence, the Union encourages in particular giving greater publicity to the supervisory mechanism, more effective monitoring, and more technical assistance. It also seems necessary to discuss new mechanisms to encourage compliance with core labour standards and a new mechanism for the regular review of social policy at the country level.

The Union also proposes launching discussion and reflection at international level in the international organisations devoted to development (ILO, WTO, etc.). Such a dialogue would help identify policies which effectively reinforce the contribution of trade to social development and ensure a certain consistency of the policies.

Strategy at European level

The Union proposes promoting core labour standards via the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). The GSP facilitates access to Community markets for developing countries which effectively apply the core labour standards and grants them additional trade preferences. The Union thus wishes to make the GSP more attractive and more transparent. Its base should be extended to the four core labour standards identified in the ILO Declaration of 1998, hence leading to a temporary withdrawal of GSP benefits in the event of serious and systematic violation of one of the core labour standards. The Union wishes to encourage other countries to adopt similar social encouragement systems.

The Union will place more emphasis on the promotion of core labour standards in its overall development policy. In line with the approach applied in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement, specific rules devoted to social development and the promotion of core labour standards will therefore be included in future trade and cooperation agreements.

Sustainability impact assessments will also be used in the framework of future negotiations and trade agreements.

Voluntary private initiatives

The Commission reaffirms the importance of socially responsible corporate behaviour within global labour markets. As the Union already stressed in its Green Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility, it is necessary, with an eye to transparency and effectiveness, to ensure coherence in the content of codes of conduct and social labels and to base them on common core standards, in other words the ILO standards. Thus, in 2000 the United Nations launched the “Global Compact” initiative, encouraging private companies to embrace and enact in their corporate practices the basic principles of Decent Work.

Context

The 1995 Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development and the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work led to widespread recognition of the universality of core labour standards. The WTO has also been involved in promoting these standards, by analysing the interface between globalisation, trade and social development. However, it has been made quite clear that respect for these standards cannot justify abuses in the form of protectionist or sanctions-based measures. However, the efforts of the international community must be continued.

Related Acts

Report from the ILO World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation “A fair globalisation — creating opportunities for all” of 24 February 2004

The World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation states that globalisation can and must change. It considers it necessary to create fair globalisation without exclusion. A coherent approach covering the economic, social and environmental dimension and more effective governance, both at international and national level, can contribute to addressing globalisation challenges.

The European Commission, which has actively participated in the work of the World Commission, has incorporated this dimension in the European Union’s external and internal policies.

Conclusions of the Council on the Communication from the Commission: “Promoting core labour standards”. External Relations Council – 21 July 2003 [Not published in the Official Journal]

The Council supports the Commission’s action to promote social development at international level. It states certain priorities in this connection:

  • promote effective dialogue between the WHO and the ILO in order to ensure consistency on this question within the international organisations concerned;
  • reliance on GSP to promote core labour standards;
  • integration of core labour standards and social governance in the European Union’s development policy;
  • promotion of effective and time-bound programmes, to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.

Extending the benefits of the social dimension of globalisation to all

Extending the benefits of the social dimension of globalisation to all

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Extending the benefits of the social dimension of globalisation to all

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Extending the benefits of the social dimension of globalisation to all

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 18 May 2004 entitled “The social dimension of globalisation – the EU’s policy contribution on extending the benefits to all” [COM(2004) 383 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Via this communication the European Commission wishes to contribute to the debate for fair and sustainable globalisation.

MASTERING GLOBALISATION

Globalisation translates into a progressive integration of economies and societies. It is driven by new technologies, new economic relationships and the national and international policies of a wide range of actors, including governments, international organisations, business, media, labour and civil society. The process of globalisation has brought significant benefits to many people across the world. Higher quality, and higher earning jobs have been created in parts of the world which previously relied largely on agriculture to maintain their people.

However, the benefits of globalisation are not shared equally across all countries and groups. The results of economic integration at global level are unbalanced and often unfavourable to vulnerable actors, whether they are regions, sectors or workers. In order to be genuinely sustainable, globalisation must ensure fairer social development for all.

CONTRIBUTION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TO THE SOCIAL DIMENSION OF GLOBALISATION

The European Union has long been striving, both within the European Union (EU) and at international level, to ensure that the economic benefits of globalisation go hand in hand with social progress.

Achievements within the EU

Thanks to its own regional integration experience, the European Union represents a pertinent model of economic, political and social integration. Although this model and the Lisbon strategy, which translates it into practice and was designed in 2000 by the Heads of State and Government, cannot simply be transferred to other parts of the world, some of its features are relevant to them.

The European Union has created a single market for the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons, reinforced by Economic and Monetary Union. It pursues mutually reinforcing policies to meet the needs of competitiveness, employment, social progress and sustainable environment. The system established by the Union is such that this economic integration leads to an improvement of the living and working conditions of European citizens, notably in the less developed Member States. In this connection the European Union has focused on solid institutional structures, the interplay between them, involvement of the stakeholders through the European social dialogue, fundamental standards for employment, such as non-discrimination in employment and equality between men and women, minimum standards as regards occupational health and safety and working conditions, supportive national social protection systems, an investment in human capital, the quality of employment and, in a more general manner, respect of human rights and the rule of law.

The transformation of the economies of the eight Central and Eastern European Countries, which joined the Union on 1 May 2004, shows the relevance of the European economic and social model for countries in the process of economic transition.

Achievements at international level

The European Union has long been aware that it is essential that its efforts for fair globalisation also translate into its external policies.

The European Union has utilised its various Economic Partnership Agreements to introduce the essential elements of sustainable globalisation. Hence it has focused its external policies on the links between trade and development, development cooperation focusing on poverty reduction, basic employment standards, corporate social responsibility, the environment, sustainable development, but also the rule of law, human rights and democratisation.

The Union mainstreams these elements in the bilateral agreements it concludes with virtually all countries and many regional groupings. Besides, via the Generalised System of Preferences, the European Union offers preferential access to the European market to developing countries which effectively respect the basic labour standards.

Besides, it supports various regional integration processes. These processes permit better integration in the world economy and thus help maximise the benefits of globalisation for their members.

Besides, thanks to its “European Neighbourhood Policy”, the Union is creating a zone of stability and prosperity with the Eastern and Southern neighbouring countries.

The Union does not neglect the private sector, which has a supplementary role to play in promoting fair globalisation.

ENHANCING EFFORTS FOR SUSTAINABLE GLOBALISATION AT THE SOCIAL LEVEL

While the European Union is actively involved via its policies in reinforcing the social dimension of globalisation, its efforts must be enhanced both at European and international level. The Structural Funds should help implement economic and social restructuring. All stakeholders are required to anticipate, trigger and absorb change. To better assess the social consequences of globalisation and better target its external aid interventions, the European Community intends to promote the mainstreaming of this social dimension, in particular in the above-mentioned areas and at the programming and implementation stages of its programmes and projects.

The actions of the European Union for developing countries should not however conceal the importance of the latter’s responsibility in managing globalisation and their own social development.

Besides, the contribution of international institutions to sustainable development, also with a view to promoting decent work, is essential. The World Trade Organisation (WTO), the international financial institutions (IFIs), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and all the United Nations’ institutions must work consistently and in a co-ordinated manner towards this goal.

Generally, the Commission strives to replace intentions by concrete actions.

CONTEXT

The ILO’s World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation (WCSDG) published a report on “Fair globalisation: creating opportunities for all” on 24 February 2004. The European Commission wishes to participate in the debate opened by the WCSDG and in the implementation of its proposals and recommendations by presenting its contribution to the social dimension of globalisation.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Employment and Social Policy

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Employment and Social Policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Employment and Social Policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Employment and Social Policy

acquis) and, more specifically, the priorities identified jointly by the Commission and the candidate countries in the analytical assessment (or ‘screening’) of the EU’s political and legislative acquis. Each year, the Commission reviews the progress made by candidates and evaluates the efforts required before their accession. This monitoring is the subject of annual reports presented to the Council and the European Parliament.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Report – [COM(2011) 666 final – SEC(2011) 1203 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was granted candidate country status for European Union (EU) membership in 2005. The Accession Partnership, adopted by the Council in 2008, supports the country’s preparations in view of its future membership and the alignment of its legislation with the Community acquis. In 2008, the accession negotiations had not yet been opened, as some progress still needed to be made on the objectives and conditions set out in the partnership.

In its 2011 Report, the European Commission outlines the limited progress made towards aligning the national legislation with the acquis. Unemployment remains high and social inclusion policies are still ineffective.

EUROPEAN UNION ACQUIS (according to the Commission’s words)

The acquis in the social field includes minimum standards in areas such as labour law, equal treatment of women and men, health and safety at work and anti-discrimination. The European Social Fund (ESF) is the main financial tool through which the EU supports the implementation of its Employment Strategy and contributes to social inclusion efforts in the fight against social exclusion (implementation rules are covered under Chapter 22, which deals with all structural instruments). The Member States participate in social dialogue at European level and in EU policy processes in the areas of employment policy, social inclusion and social protection.

EVALUATION (according to the Commission’s words)

Limited progress was noted in aligning with the acquis on social policy and employment. The implementation of the framework law on anti-discrimination has commenced. Full alignment with the acquis remains to be achieved. The high unemployment rate and the low labour market participation remain worrying. Inclusion of Roma, people with disabilities and other socially excluded people is slow. Effective employment and social inclusion policies are should be further implemented, and the social dialogue should be further strengthened. The overall administrative capacity is not sufficient.

Related Acts

Commission Report [COM(2010) 660 final – SEC(2010) 1327 – Not published in the Official Journal].
The 2010 Report notes the adoption of a law framing the fight against discrimination. However, it does include all of the EU acquis in this area. In addition, progress is still inadequate with regard to social dialogue and social inclusion strategies.

Commission Report [COM(2009) 533 final – SEC(2009) 1334 – Not published in the Official Journal].

The October 2009 report gives an account of progress made in the reforms. However, additional efforts should be made, in particular to improve the quality of social dialogue and the employment of persons excluded from the labour market. The administrative capacity of the State has been strengthened, but it remains insufficient to implement the legislative and political reforms.

Commission Report [COM(2008) 674 final – SEC(2008) 2699 – Not published in the Official Journal].

In its Report of November 2008 the Commission considers that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia must make significant efforts to align its legislation with the Community acquis in the field of social policy and employment. In this respect, the introduction of laws and policies should be accelerated and the country’s administrative capacity reinforced.

Fourth United Nations Conference on Women

Fourth United Nations Conference on Women

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fourth United Nations Conference on Women

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Fourth United Nations Conference on Women

The European Union has instituted a new partnership between women and men, involving equal sharing of paid and unpaid work, and equal participation of women and men in civil, political, economic, social and cultural life.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council of 1 June 1995: a new partnership between women and men, equal sharing and participation; the European Community’s priorities for the Fourth UN World Conference on Women (Beijing, September 1995) [COM(1995)221 final- not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

The Community regards equality between women and men as a fundamental principle. The rights of women and girls are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.

Policies and programmes must focus on measures leading to recognition of the fundamental role played by women in social, economic and political processes, the participation of women in the administration of power and their access to economic independence.

Besides, specific measures must be adopted to ensure that the question of equal opportunities for women and men is incorporated into all Union policies.

An urgent priority is to eliminate differentials in areas such as nutrition, literacy, education and training, employment and access to primary health care, etc.

The Community has identified the following strategic objectives:

  • to actively promote participation in society for all individuals without discrimination, particularly by supporting the ratification and enforcement of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women;
  • to strengthen legislation on violence, sexual harassment and the sexual exploitation of women;
  • to support measures strengthening the role of non-governmental organisations which give more responsibilities to women;
  • to provide support measures to encourage and accelerate women’s participation in decision-making in all public and political bodies;
  • to ensure that women throughout the world have the right to decide freely and responsibly on the number, spacing and timing of their children and have the information and means to do so;
  • to adopt measures to redress the horizontal and vertical segregation of the labour market;
  • to encourage changes in the organisation of work to ensure an equitable distribution of work responsibilities and household duties, and to take measures that enable people to reconcile personal, social and professional responsibilities.
  • to incorporate the question of equal opportunities into all policies and activities (mainstreaming).

The Community will need to consider its approach to the question of resourcing and follow-up at different levels: within the Community’s own institutions, at Member State level, in relation to action by international institutions, and in relation to encouraging and supporting action in the field of development cooperation by partner governments and governments of countries whose economies are in transition.

Background

The United Nations Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, and the European Community’s participation in this event are part of a follow-up to action already taken by the international community to promote gender equality.

Three priority objectives had been identified at the First World Conference on Women, held in Mexico in 1975: equality, development and peace. In order to attain these objectives, the Copenhagen conference in 1980 focused on three areas which required particular attention: equal access to education, employment opportunities and adequate health care services. At the Nairobi Conference in 1985 it was declared for the first time that all problems faced by humanity were also problems for women. Women thus have a legitimate right to participate in the decision-making process and in managing human affairs.

Related Acts

Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995

The Declaration and Platform for Action which were adopted at the close of the conference set out the strategic objectives and actions which must be pursued in order to overcome the obstacles to the advancement of women.

Twelve areas have been identified which constitute obstacles to the advancement of women and therefore require specific action: women and poverty; education and training of women; women and health; violence against women; women and armed conflict; women and the economy; women in power and decision-making; institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women; the human rights of women; women and the media; women and the environment; the girl child.

The Beijing Conference also highlighted the concept of gender and the need to incorporate gender equality in all institutions, policies and actions of the United Nations’ Member States.

A special session of the United Nations in 2000, entitled “Women 2000:Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the 21st Century” (Beijing + 5), was a follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women.

Regulation (EC) No 806/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on

promoting gender equality

in development cooperation.

Communication of 21 June 2001 from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament –

Action Programme

for the mainstreaming of gender equality in Community Development Cooperation [COM(2001) 295 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 21 February 1996: Incorporating equal opportunities for women and men into all Community policies and activities [COM(96) 67 final Not published in the Official Journal].

Europe's response to world ageing

Europe’s response to world ageing

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Europe’s response to world ageing

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Europe’s response to world ageing

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 18 March 2002, entitled “Europe’s response to World Ageing. Promoting economic and social progress in an ageing world. A contribution of the European Commission to the Second World Assembly on Ageing” [COM(2002) 143 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

The European Union considers that the adoption of a new international plan of action on ageing provides an opportunity to improve international cooperation and to prepare a long-term global strategy for a society for all ages.

Ageing of the world population

Various factors explain the ageing of the world population, such as increased life expectancy and falling fertility rates, chiefly linked to progress in birth control, the baby boom and migration movements.

While today ageing seems to be a universal trend, its intensity varies, notably depending on the regions. Hence the developed countries already have a large number of older people and the trend is constantly growing. The developing countries are still at the first stage of the process, but the rate of population ageing is likely to accelerate quite rapidly.

Ageing affects the economic and social foundations of societies. Consequently, new challenges must be addressed to provide a framework which is adapted to persons of all ages, men and women.

The Community approach

A European dimension was given to the debate on population ageing by the Communication ” Towards a Europe for all ages ” of 1999. The Union now proposes sharing its experience with the other countries, notably the developing countries.

The Union has insisted on the need for a global policy approach, combining the aspects of ageing linked to the economy, employment and social questions. The challenges calling for particular attention have been identified:

  • managing the economic implications of ageing in order to maintain growth and sound public finances;
  • adjusting well to an ageing and shrinking workforce, notably by encouraging active ageing and by changing existing practices of age management in workplaces and labour markets;
  • ensuring adequate and financially sustainable pensions which are adaptable to variable conditions, so that older people are not threatened by poverty;
  • securing access of all to high quality health care while ensuring the financial sustainability of health services, with a view to ensuring healthy ageing and wellbeing over the life course.

The Union’s suggestions for an international plan on ageing

The Union does not call for the transposition of its policy to other countries, since the context of ageing varies from one region to another as a function of the socio-economic and cultural background. This leads to a genuine diversity of challenges. However, the Union is convinced of the usefulness of international cooperation so that countries can learn and profit from each other’s experience. Hence it supports the preparation of a long-term strategy at global level but proposes distinguishing between objectives applicable to all countries and those that are suited to particular regions of the world. The development of an information base would help reinforce this international cooperation.

It seems essential to secure a sufficient labour force to provide for a growing population of retired people, to manage the cost implications for public sector finances and the economy at large and to prevent poverty in old age.

Besides, the Union draws attention to the need for greater global awareness as regards ageing. In order to successfully adapt to population ageing, a holistic view of ageing is called for because it is a phenomenon which concerns the entire life cycle, society as a whole and all aspects of economic and social life. It is also important to ensure the good health and wellbeing of older people. Notably, this means encouraging a learning process on healthy lifestyles, preventing dependency and invalidity of older people, assisting families with elderly dependents via formal care arrangements, and addressing considerations about the end of life.

Context

The United Nations has been drawing attention to the ageing of the world population since 1982, when it organised the first conference on this subject and adopted on this occasion an international plan of action on ageing. Subsequently, 1999 was declared the International Year of Older Persons and a Second World Assembly on Ageing was organised in April 2002 with a view to adopting a new international plan of action on ageing.

Initially only the most developed countries considered ageing to be a problem. But the ageing process now affects an increasing number of developing regions and hence has assumed a global dimension. It is thus essential to ensure better global awareness of the challenge which ageing presents today.

Related Acts

Result of the Second World Assembly on Ageing (2002 – Madrid)

In their political declaration the governments undertook to take both national and international measures concerning older persons and development, the advancement of health and wellbeing into old age, and the creation of enabling and supportive environments.

The International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002 analyses these three priorities and lays down the objectives and recommendations. The plan of action focuses on the promotion of health and wellbeing of older persons (health promotion and wellbeing throughout life, universal and equal access to health care, possibilities in the field of geriatrics and gerontology, neglect, abuse and violence, etc.). The United Nations will assist countries in implementing and following up the plan of action.

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Report requested by Stockholm European Council: “Increasing labour force participation and promoting active ageing” [COM(2002) 9 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities at international level

Promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities at international level

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities at international level

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities at international level

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 January 2003 “Towards a United Nations legally binding instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities” [COM(2003) 16 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Equal rights which are often ignored in practice

Human rights are vested in all human beings and everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of those rights without distinction of any kind.

If this principle, which is clearly established in international instruments to protect human rights, obviously applies to people with disabilities, in reality the latter do not however always benefit from the effective enjoyment of these rights.

People with disabilities are often marginalised because they develop in an environment which is unaware of the consequences of their disabilities. They encounter many physical, technical and social obstacles to the enjoyment of their rights in all regions of the world (even if this situation is more accentuated in the developing countries).

Human rights violations against disabled people generally take the form of indirect discrimination, including the creation and maintenance of barriers preventing disabled people from enjoying full social, economic and political participation in the life of their communities. Countries generally have a narrow understanding of human rights vis-à-vis disabled people and make do with abstaining from measures which have a negative impact on them.

It is necessary to ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against and to enable them to avail of their rights and exercise them in the same way as other persons.

Added value of a legally binding international instrument

Certain populations are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations. In order to take these particularities into account, legally binding thematic instruments have been adopted in the framework of the United Nations (racial discrimination, discrimination against women, children). These Conventions have demonstrated added value and complementarity with existing Human Rights instruments.

The preparation of such a thematic instrument concerning people with disabilities will, on the one hand, make it possible to clarify and make more visible the principle according to which people with disabilities have the same rights as the rest of humanity. On the other hand, it would make it possible to supplement the existing framework in connection with the protection of human rights.

Effective implementation of the principle of non-discrimination is essential to ensure equal treatment. The instrument should protect people with disabilities against all forms of discrimination as regards access to and enjoyment of human rights. The concept of indirect discrimination (covering situations in which an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice puts some people at a particular disadvantage compared to others) is particularly important as regards people with disabilities. Besides, it is necessary to take into account the diversity of people with disabilities, as well as the fact that some of them can be victims of multiple discrimination.

The Commission insists on the participation of disability organisations and people with disabilities themselves in preparing decisions which concern them.

Article 13 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty) enables the Community to combat discrimination. Hence the Commission transmitted, together with this Communication, a recommendation to the Council in order to authorise the Commission to negotiate, on behalf of the European Community, the preparation in the framework of the United Nations of a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

Context

Ever since the 1970’s the United Nations has paid particularly attention to people with disabilities. The first instruments recognising the rights of people with disabilities, namely the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons and the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, were however criticised for being based on outmoded medical and welfare models of disability. The instruments subsequently adopted, in the 1980’s, have improved understanding of the general human rights conventions insofar as they relate to people with disabilities. However, there is the drawback that they are not legally binding.

Since 2002 a special committee, set up in the framework of the United Nations in the wake of its Resolution 56/168, has been examining proposals with a view to preparing a comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

Community policy is in line with international action.

In its Communication on equal opportunities for people with disabilities, the European Union adopted a social approach to disability, identifying the problem in the environment which fails to adapt to people with disabilities.

The Treaty of Amsterdam introduced, in the text of the Treaty establishing the European Community, an article making it possible to combat discrimination, including discrimination on the grounds of disability (Article 13). On the basis of this article, the European Community adopted Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation.

The European Charter of Fundamental Rights reaffirms the prohibition on any discrimination on the ground of disability (Article 21) as well as the fundamental nature of the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, their social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the Community (Article 26).

The preparation of a legally binding instrument would make it possible to reinforce the coherence between the international and the Community action, with the support of the Commission.

Related Acts

Proposal for a Council Decision concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [COM(2008) 530 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The United Nations Convention is a global and integrated instrument to ensure the protection of the rights, fundamental freedoms and dignity of people with disabilities.

States Parties undertake to adopt all measures necessary to guarantee and promote their rights:

  • respect for dignity and individual autonomy, in particular through the recognition of their legal capacity and liberty of movement;
  • respect for difference and physical integrity, in particular through protection against maltreatment and exploitation;
  • equality with regard to the law, non-discrimination and legal protection;
  • freedom of expression, the right to information and education, in particular by facilitating their participation in primary and secondary education;
  • equal treatment of women and men;
  • respect for children with disabilities and the rights of children with disabilities, to ensure assistance appropriate to their age and maturity;
  • access to the physical environment, transportation, information, communication and all equipment and services for the public, both in urban and in rural areas;
  • inclusion in society and the greatest possible independence, in particular through habilitation programmes, access to services, health services and rehabilitation, employment, social protection, their participation in public and cultural life and leisure.

The Convention establishes a Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which States Parties shall submit a biannual report on measures adopted in application of the Convention. They shall establish national focal points and independent monitoring mechanisms in partnership with organisations in civil society. They will also undertake international cooperation in partnership with international organisations and competent regional organisations.
(CNS/2008/0170)