New EU-ILO Mainstreaming Employment and Trade and Investment (METI) Programme launched at UfM Trade ministerial meeting

News | 16 November 2020
On 10 November 2020, at the 11th Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Trade ministerial meeting organized by the European Commission, the ILO presented the new programme on Mainstreaming Employment and Trade and Investment (METI) in the Southern Neighbourhood. The Programme, developed with strong support and guidance from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), aims to create stronger linkage between trade, investment and jobs.

Originally designed to respond to the weak labour market developments in the region since the 2008 global financial crisis, the Programme has become even more relevant in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, which has caused an unprecedented scale of labour market disruption.

The latest ILO estimates suggest that in the second quarter of 2020, 17.3 per cent of working hours were lost, equivalent to about 500 million full-time jobs, and around 11 per cent of labour income was lost. With recovery projected to be slow, difficult and uncertain in the years to come, the need for job-centred responses and job-rich recovery is all the more critical now.

The METI Programme is premised on the recognition that jobs will not come automatically from economic growth. On the contrary, the creation of more and better jobs must be fully reflected in all economic policies, including trade and investment. The Programme aims to do that through two overall objectives:
  1. Policy makers in the Southern Neighbourhood of the EU more fully incorporate employment issues into trade and investment policies;
  2. Trade and investment interventions designed and implemented by policy makers ultimately optimize the quantity and quality of employment created in the region.
Importantly, the Programme focuses on both the quantity and the quality of jobs, as ILO evidence suggests clearly that decent job quality is essential to sustained and sustainable job growth.

Building on the ILO’s long and rich experience, the Programme will strengthen regional- and country-level analysis of the impact of trade and investment policies on productive and decent employment, and make reliable and relevant data and analysis the starting point for policy work. On this basis and through technical training, knowledge sharing workshops and public-private policy dialogue, the METI Programme will:
  • Select four “partner countries” from the Southern Neighbourhood of the EU for more in-depth study;
  • Target as final beneficiaries workers – especially women and youth – and employers – SMEs in particular – in the tradable sectors of the countries in the region;
  • Support governments, social partners and other relevant stakeholders in the region for factoring more fully the employment effects of trade and investment into policy development;
  • Develop more specific and pragmatic policy approaches, working with key stakeholders to develop sectoral recommendations in order to take full advantage of employment opportunities resulting from trade and investment policies;
  • Work directly with key stakeholders on investment issues, focussing on how to assess the trade and employment impact of public infrastructure investments in the four partner countries.
Informed by its strong county-level work, the Programme will contribute to regional integration. Better analysis and information and open dialogue with key partners and stakeholders will support the region-wide efforts for strong, inclusive and sustainable job-rich growth through:
  1. Regional technical trainings on assessing the effects of trade and investment policies on employment, which will target specialists from relevant government departments, statistical agencies, research organizations and other national and regional institutions;
  2. Regional knowledge-sharing workshops and strategic trainings on the impact of trade and investment policies on productive and decent employment, which will be addressed to government officials, social partners, and representatives of other organizations.
The new EU-ILO METI Programme is well-placed to contribute to creating more and better jobs in the Southern Neighbourhood of the EU through mainstreaming jobs in trade and investment policies. The critical importance of this approach is clear today, as job-rich recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a global imperative and requires open and effective dialogue among all governments and the social partners.