Trade unions at the 6th global meeting of the EU Policy Forum on Development

The 6th global meeting of the EU Policy Forum on Development (PFD) took place in Brussels on 20-22 March 2018. Organised by the European Commission, this structured dialogue brought together representatives of trade unions, civil society organisations, local authorities and the private sector from around the world as well as EU Member States and EU institutions.

The breadth of stakeholders that work with the EU institutions on development issues came together to discuss numerous topics from the shrinking spaces of civil society organisations (CSOs) and local authorities (LAs) to the financing for development, including the role of both new financial instruments and domestic resource mobilisation. Looking specifically at upcoming EU development policies, the Post-Cotonou Agreement and the EU multi-annual financial framework post-2020 were also discussed. The official summary of the event, provides key points from each of the thematic discussion held during the event.

Marita Gonzalez (CGTRA Argentina) spoke in the session on policy coherence for development in the 2030 Agenda: the case for aid for trade. She highlighted the inadequacies of the current structure of global supply chains to provide decent work and ensure that workers have and collectively defend their rights. Pointing specifically to the example of the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations that are currently under way, she outlined the inadequate provisions for transparency and civil society consultation. Without correct representation within the negotiation process, it is no surprise that trade agreements continue to undermine the interests of working people and their families as well as their right to development. Ms. Gonzalez provided a set of recommendations for the EU and its aid for trade work to incorporate and make proactive use of legally enforceable provisions within trade agreements decent work and a dignified life.

Trade union representatives also intervened in other sessions. On new financial instruments, Alex Nkosi (ITUC-Africa) made the case for the inclusion of civil society on an equal footing to the private sector, noting that without the inclusion of trade unions throughout project cycles, the rights of working people risk being undermined. Thiago Maeda (CUT Brazil), highlighted the role of trade unions in building domestic resource mobilisation, notably in pushing for living wakes and in the formalisation the informal sector.

The Global PFD is part of a broader discussion among the stakeholders organised by the EU Commission. Earlier in the year trade unions notably participated in the European regional meeting of the Policy Forum on Development. In October 2018, an African regional meeting will take place.

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