TUDCN European Union Development Policies Working Group: Trade unions take the pulse of the EU’s commitment to sustainable development

Trade unions and solidarity support organisations from member states of the European Union (EU) gathered on 9 and 10 May in Brussels to discuss the EU’s approach to the 2030 Agenda.

The event, organised by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), in collaboration with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), brought together delegates from various countries, who had the opportunity to exchange views with experts from different organisations, including the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), Eurodad, the OECDand representatives of the European Union and the EU Council Presidencies for 2023, Sweden and Spain.

During the meeting, ASVIS presented the first draft and preliminary outcomes of the trade union shadow report to the EU’s upcoming Voluntary Review of the block’s progress on the SDGs. The report highlights that although most SDGs are reflected in EU priorities and instruments as well as in its Pillar of Social Rights, there is a need for the European Union to rethink its understanding of development.

Specifically, the EU should uplift the role of social dialogue in the implementation of the SDGs, place decent job creation at the centre of its industrial and environmental policies, and the fight against poverty and inequalities at the centre of its fiscal and monetary policies. In addition, the draft paper also emphasises that the EU needs to invest more in decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, as stipulated in SDG 8. The European Union and EU Council presidency representatives welcomed the upcoming shadow report, acknowledging the added value that the voice of trade unions provides to development policy discussions.

Discussions also delved into the EU’s Global Gateway, the OECD’s work on impact standards for financing sustainable development and the GPEDC Kampala principles on effective private sector engagement in development co-operation. These concluded with a common understanding that although standards exist, development finance institutions and private sector actors do not apply them thoroughly, as transparency and good governance are not cultivated enough.

Trade union representatives encouraged the EU to support national trade union organisations’ attempts to engage in constructive dialogue on sustainable development with governments and the UN system at the national level. They also committed to engage in information sharing with the OECD and cooperate on policies regarding private sector involvement in development.

Overall, the meeting was an opportunity for trade unions and solidarity support organisations to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on sustainable development in the EU and beyond. As the world moves towards achieving the SDGs, it is essential to engage all stakeholders, including trade unions, to ensure that progress is made towards a sustainable future for all.

  • Consult this page for more information, including the agenda, presentations and background documents.