Trade Unions welcome the emphasis given to the role of decent work, civil society and the SDGs in the new Global Strategy for EU Foreign and Security Policy

On 28 June 2016, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini, unveiled the Global Strategy on EU Foreign and Security Policy (EU Global Strategy). This document addresses the challenges of EU foreign policy in a more connected, contested and complex world, and paves the way to recalibrate the different tools of the EU’s external action in a more coherent and efficient manner.

The Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (TUDCN) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcome the emphasis given to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guiding framework for EU foreign and security policy to contribute to improved livelihoods, prosperity, reduced inequality and more peaceful, resilient and democratic societies. The will to act globally to address the root causes of conflict and poverty, such as human rights violations, inequality, resource stress and climate change, is a promising endeavour.

We welcome the commitment of the EU Global Strategy to champion decent work opportunities, fight poverty and inequality and widen access to public services and social security. As sustainable development relies on secure and resilient countries, it is a good sign that the EU Global Strategy will focus on security and defence as much as on job opportunities, inclusive societies and human rights. The promotion of an enabling environment for new economic endeavours, employment and the inclusion of marginalised groups by the EU is a step in the right direction.

The EU Global Strategy recognises the role of civil society and social partners in helping ensuring societal resilience, particularly in a global context of shrinking space for these actors, including through violations of the freedoms of speech and association. We welcome the long-term commitment and support to global and local civil society proposed by the EU Global Strategy, also through their involvement in early warning and conflict prevention.

The EU Global Strategy will promote a rules-based global order with multilateralism as its key principle and the United Nations at its core, including the rules governing global value chains. Trade Unions demand labour standards and more binding mechanisms for private sector accountability in development are part of these efforts. Same goes to the emergence of private development cooperation, in the form of public-private partnerships and blended finance. This should apply to EU trade agreements, which are a key tool for the development of partner countries.

The document suggests raising the overall amount dedicated to EU development cooperation, and reaffirms the EU’s commitment to achieve the 0.7% ODA/GNI target in line with DAC principles. In this sense, it calls for EU development policy to become more flexible, with stable funds but shorter programming cycles, and more flexibility in making limited sums available for civil society support.

As much as it is plausible to raise the EU development envelope, we remain vigilant on how these funds are used to address the refugee crisis and security challenges. There should be a clear separation between envelopes, never at the detriment of EU development policy.

Trade unions expect the EU not only to talk the talk but to walk the walk, and roll out the commitments enshrined in the Global Strategy as soon as possible. With increasing threats to security and peoples’ livelihoods, the EU needs to step up its commitment as a global player. Trade unions will follow closely the implementation of the EU Global Strategy and related revision or devise of sectoral, thematic and geographic strategies, and continue promoting the role of decent work and social dialogue as a tool for sustainable development, peace and resilience.

For more information contact Joan Lanfranco, TUDCN Advocacy Officer, joan.lanfranco@ituc-csi.org, +32 2 224 03 05.