ILO Regional Meeting expands social agenda for Europe and Central Asia

The International Labour Organization (ILO) concluded its 7th European Regional Meeting here today with agreement among tripartite representatives from the region's 50 member States to "work together through dialogue and cooperation to promote a common future of democracy, economic prosperity and social justice".

Press release | 18 February 2005

BUDAPEST (ILO News) - The International Labour Organization (ILO) concluded its 7th European Regional Meeting here today with agreement among tripartite representatives from the region's 50 member States to "work together through dialogue and cooperation to promote a common future of democracy, economic prosperity and social justice".

More than 600 worker, employer and government representatives from the European and Central Asian region, which reaches from the North Atlantic to the Pacific, adopted a set of conclusions saying "good governance, economic and social progress, and the fight against corruption rests on democratic institutions drawing their legitimacy from freely elected representation, effective social dialogue, fundamental principles and rights at work, and the rule of law".

The presence of more than 30 ministers of labour, four heads of government - Mr. Ferenc Gyurcsány, Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg and holder of the European Union Presidency, Mr. Danial Akhmetov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, and Dr. Lawrence Gonzi, Prime Minister of Malta - and the EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Mr. Vladimir Spidla, underscored what delegates termed "the central importance of genuine social dialogue in meeting the challenges of globalization".

"What we are seeing is the development of the ILO's role in promoting social dialogue, governance and economic integration for a common future in Europe and Central Asia", said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. "This will enhance the role of our Organization and its social partners in the pursuit of decent work."

The ILO Regional Meeting is the only regional institutional space where the 25 Member States of the EU, countries covered by the Stability Pact for the Reconstruction of South-East Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Council of Europe can meet - in a tripartite manner - to discuss issues of common concern in the world of work.

In their conclusions, delegates noted that globalization and rapid economic integration posed common challenges to countries, enterprises and workers in the European and Central Asian region. They called for "a common view of the need for greater policy coherence, at home, regionally and globally, between economic, social, financial and trade policies and policies for decent work" based on the fundamental principles and rights at work, employment, social protection and social dialogue.

The meeting agreed that the report of the ILO-supported World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization is a "useful stimulus to dialogue at the national, regional and international levels on the promotion of decent work as a global goal" and welcomed a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly last December urging that the Commission's recommendations be taken into account in the forthcoming review of the Millennium Development Goals.

Delegates also called on the ILO to strengthen its partnerships with donor countries and the European Commission in providing technical cooperation for decent work policies in countries requesting such assistance.

Spanning peoples lives and work

The Meeting took a novel approach to developing policies to support people in various transitions in their lives and work, identifying four key areas of transition - from education to employment, moving from job to job, moving from country to country, and from work to security in old age.

The conclusions urge governments, in consultation with the social partners, to address the needs of young workers in "national employment strategies"; encourage the ILO to pursue tripartite consultations on flexibility and security for enterprises and workers in order to help meet the challenges of enhanced competition resulting from globalization and adaptation to rapidly changing markets; called on tripartite social partners to support the development of a non-binding multilateral framework for a rights-based approach to labour migration adopted at the ILO's annual International Labour Conference in June of last year; and requested the ILO to provide technical assistance to constituents in the region and facilitate the exchange of experience in the design and management of pensions systems.

The meeting also called on countries in the region that have not yet done so to complete the ratification of the ILO's eight fundamental conventions regarding freedom of association, equality at work, and the elimination of child labour and forced labour and by the year 2008, the 10th anniversary of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The ILO said that throughout the entire region, only 16 more ratifications would be required to achieve universal ratification - a global first.