EU Council makes direct reference to human and labour rights, decent work and social dialogue on the role of private sector in development cooperation

On 23rd June European Foreign Affairs Council adopted conclusions on the role of the private sector in international development. The document follows the EU Commission’s communication ‘A stronger role of the private sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth in developing countries’, released on 13th May 2014.

The Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (TUDCN) welcomes the Council’s call “to respect human and labour rights, promote decent work and sustainable development and contribute to the economic and social empowerment of youth and of the poorest and most vulnerable, in particular of women and girls”.

The TUDCN also welcomes the Council’s call to promote social dialogue in European Union development cooperation. Nonetheless, the TUDCN regrets that references to ILO standards and conventions, as binding commitments, are not at the forefront of the conclusions.

In terms of the role of the private sector in development, the TUDCN supports the Council’s call “for increased focus on support to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), as well as to social enterprises and cooperatives".

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and other forms of "blending" can have a disastrous impact on the poorest. TUDCN strongly highlight that putting public money into ’private hands’ such as blending and PPP instruments fall short of a balanced approach. PPP have proven to be a flawed model that leads to over-priced public services, and there is much evidence to corroborate this, not least within the EU 28.