New EU development framework: decent work as a driver to achieve the SDGs

The EU Council of Ministers adopted the new European Consensus on Development on 19 May 2017. It sets out the principles that will guide the approach of the EU and its Member States to cooperation with developing countries over the next 15 years, as well as a strategy for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (TUDCN) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcome the new Consensus’ recognition of decent work as priority to achieve sustainable and inclusive development. Trade union demands to mainstream the Decent Work Agenda in EU development policy can be found throughout the adopted text.

The EU and its Member States commit to promoting decent jobs and engaging with trade unions in the promotion of social dialogue. According to the new text, decent work should result in decent wages, to generate sufficient revenues for public services and social protection. Sustainable value chains should respect human and labour rights, core ILO standards and due diligence requirements, as well as environmental and social standards.

EU development policy will promote progressive taxation and redistributive public policies that pay due attention to better sharing the benefits of growth, the creation of wealth and decent jobs, as well as the formalisation of the economy. The EU will also support the fight against child and forced labour and human trafficking, while supporting freedom of assembly and association.

The new Consensus commits to partnerships with trade unions for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and reaffirms that development effectiveness principles should apply to all development actors, including the private sector. However, the new Consensus fails to establish specific criteria to assess private sector interventions in development.

Wellington Chibebe, Deputy General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said: “The new EU Consensus makes clear that decent work and social dialogue are main drivers for sustainable and inclusive development. The world’s biggest aid donor sets the tone to reverse the trend of growing inequalities and jobless growth. However, trade unions reject to use ODA as a bargain chip for migration and borders control, whereas it should be a pro-poor tool to eradicate poverty. If business wants to be a reliable partner in the SDGs, it needs to commit to sound development results through decent work”.

Liina Carr, Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) said: “The recognition by the EU of the role of decent work is crucial to ‘harness’ globalisation. However, the new Consensus’ championing of private sector as ‘an engine of long-term sustainable development’ makes even more necessary to mainstream social dialogue in EU external policies, to increase ownership of development processes, make business accountable and ensure workers and their families are not left behind. Social dialogue is a basic pillar of the EU, so we expect EU external policies to promote it outside EU borders alike”.

The European Parliament is expected to endorse the text on 31 May 2017. The inter-institutional agreement is expected to be signed at the European Development Days, on 7-8 June 2017 in Brussels.

For more information contact Joan Lanfranco, TUDCN Advocacy Officer, [email protected].