Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the European Union.
On the 20th of February, we commemorate the World Day of Social Justice. In designating this day, the General Assembly recognised “the need to consolidate further the efforts of the international community in poverty eradication and in promoting full employment and decent work, gender equality and access to social well-being and justice for all.
The World Summit on Social Development and the 24th Special Session of the General Assembly represent powerful global commitments to social development and important landmarks in the achievement of an agreed consensus on key goals, especially the pursuit of’ poverty eradication, full employment and decent work, and social integration and inclusion. In spite of some positive developments, and the international recognition that these commitments are crucial for the development of stable, safe and just societies, the fulfillment of these goals remains a challenge both at the national and international level.
The development of stable, safe and just societies is intrinsically connected to the promotion of social development, integration, inclusion, cohesion and to the creation of a society for all. Ensuring social justice has become even more significant in light of the impact of globalisation, technological change, demographic ageing, increased migration and economic slowdown. Today, it is imperative to minimise the negative effects of the financial and economic crisis, particularly for individuals and groups in the most vulnerable and disadvantaged situations, and to provide new stimulus for economic and employment growth, and social cohesion. Nevertheless, it is important that, when dealing with these challenges, we are in line with our long-term commitments. While supporting the goals of mitigating unfavourable economic and social impact on people living in the most vulnerable situations, we cannot neglect the promotion and protection of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms and the need to ensure non-discrimination and gender equality.
Each country, undoubtedly, has the primary responsibility for its economic and social development for ensuring equal access to opportunities, services and resources. However, the international community increasingly plays a more influential role in promoting social development by sharing resources, experience and knowledge. Let me briefly touch upon the EU policies.
Firstly, The European Union has expressed, on several occasions, its full commitment and dedication to Copenhagens commitments and to the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals on several occasions. It remains committed to poverty eradication, and social integration as one of the main development objectives and reaffirms its full support for the implementation of comprehensive national strategies for social inclusion. The importance of poverty eradication, social integration and sustainable development remains paramount in an increasingly globalised and interdependent world, as recognised in the 2005 European Consensus on Development. The European Consensus on Development emphasises the EUs commitment to respect human rights, fundamental freedoms, peace, democracy, gender equality, the rule of law, solidarity and justice. The European Union has also declared the year of 2010 as the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. The aim of the European Year is to support active inclusion policies and improve the coordination between existing programmes and initiatives and appeals to the commitment of all actors, because real progress requires a long-term effort that involves all levels of governance.
Secondly, The EU fully endorses the view that the key route out of poverty is employment and decent work. The aims of promoting employment and social protection, social dialogue and fundamental rights and principles at work, as set out in the ILO declaration on Social Justice and Fair Globalisation, are important objectives for the EU in accordance to the Decent Work Agenda.
These mutually reinforcing objectives are crucial for achieving the main objectives of the EUs Strategy for Growth and Employment. They are, therefore, important elements of the EUs Renewed Social Agenda for Creating Opportunities, Providing Access and Demonstrating Solidarity.
Furthermore, the EU remains fully committed to devoting even more attention to the educational and other needs and rights of children and young people. In March 2005, the European Council adopted “The European Youth Pact”. Its purpose is to improve education, training, mobility, employment and social inclusion of young people, including local and regional strategies for social and professional inclusion, whilst helping to achieve a work-life balance. The EU Programme “Youth in Action 2007-2013” is one of various tools used to reach young people in all 27 EU Member States and to promote youth mobility and intercultural learning experiences beyond borders.
Thirdly, the European Union is firmly convinced that, by guaranteeing the full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, we are also making an important contribution for a better and more just society as a whole. In this regard, the Council of Europes Disability Action Plan (DAP), as a part of the European Disability Strategy (2004-2010) is aimed at achieving further prospects of employment, accessibility and independent living for people with disabilities. All EU Members States and the European Community signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the discussions on the ratification by the European Community in its own right are ongoing.
Fourthly, the EU will continue to contribute to further initiatives on mainstreaming the issues of ageing in national and regional policies as well as to the changes of public awareness concerning the potential of older persons to the advantage of the economy and society as a whole. In Europe, generally, citizens enjoy longer life expectancy and relatively good health. Demographic ageing constitutes a challenge with regard to social protection systems, especially to pension schemes, social services and health services. The ageing population makes the promotion of healthy ageing and dignity in long term care an important priority for the EU.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, I would like to underline the important role of the civil society and non-governmental organisations for their work to achieve social justice. The EU appreciates and encourages their further active role in promoting the theme of social justice and social integration as fundamental elements of social development nationally and internationally.