– Check against delivery –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Acceding Country Croatia*, the Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland† and Serbia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you Ambassador. Mac-Donald on your election as the Chair of the Third Committee and assure you, as well as the other members of the Bureau of the full support of the European Union. We are confident that this session will be successful under your competent leadership.
As we meet here today, many countries are still engaged in addressing the negative consequences of the world financial and economic crisis. These consequences continue to threaten the efforts made to promote the various dimensions of social development. Global cooperation is indispensable and is the best way forward to real recovery. Global challenges have to be tackled together, as our countries become more and more interdependent.
Within the European Union, we are sparing no effort to overcome the current difficulties.
The “Compact for Growth and Jobs” adopted last June by the European Council, emphasises the need to tackle the unemployment, to address the social consequences of the crisis and to boost employment. We have come a long way already and while we are seeing the first results of our efforts made, continuous attention and action are needed to handle these challenges in a sustained and balanced way. Economic recovery and social development go hand in hand. Our aim should be to better link employment and social policies, so as to ensure a job-rich recovery that provides decent jobs, protects against the risk of long-term unemployment and reduces inequality.
In Europe, the need for integrated and sustainable measures to address social and economic issues makes the Europe 2020 Strategy targets all the more important. The Strategy is aimed at laying the foundations for a strong and more balanced recovery. The Strategy’s targets form the basis for the economic and social model we are striving to build – a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe. In the context of this Strategy, EU Member States will continue to implement measures that make work more attractive, help provide jobs to the jobless, boost research and innovation and attract private capital to finance growth. Member States will also invest in education and formal, informal and non-formal training, they will reform their pension systems, step-up energy efficiency policies and take measures to promote social inclusion.
As part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the initiative “The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion” was launched. This initiative sets out actions to bolster work at all levels to lift at least 20 million people in EU Member States out of poverty and social exclusion by the year 2020.
The Millennium Development Goals have placed development and poverty eradication high on government agendas worldwide. But as 2015 approaches, the financial and economic crisis continues to hamper efforts towards fulfilment of these goals. Government efforts have to be strategic and innovative and based on a broad social development agenda that includes improvement of health conditions and investment in human capital, and which reduces inequality. The EU is committed to ensure effective and coherent preparation for the 2013 MDG Review Summit and the overall post-2015 development framework.
The EU will also work towards ensuring effective follow-up to and implementation of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio 20+) outcomes. The sustainable development agenda clearly encompasses social, economic and environmental dimensions.
The promotion of gender equality, the empowerment, and the advancement of women must be at the centre of any successful and effective agenda both for social and economic development. The EU and its Member States are committed to sustained efforts towards gender equality, and will continue to work with other Governments to bring about the changes needed for all women. In the experience of the European Union, societies are stronger when women take part in political, economic and social lives of their countries, when women’s voices are heard and their choices respected.
In this context allow me to confirm the firm support of the EU to the ILO as the key universal standard-setting body in the area of employment and social protection and its essential role for promoting decent work worldwide which are crucial for contributing to multilateral efforts to enhance fairness in globalisation.
The Arab Spring originated in a quest for freedom and democracy, as well as for social progress and employment opportunities. Long term, success will be determined by the ability of Governments to involve young people, including young women and men, in the development of economic and social policy. The path of structural transition will be long but there is no way back.
The European Union reiterates its strong support for the World Programme of Action for Youth, which constitutes a comprehensive international strategy and guiding policy in the area of youth development, and calls for its continued implementation at the local, national, regional and international level. We will continue to work towards the involvement of our youth in line with the EU Youth Strategy of 2009 and in conjunction with the Youth on the Move initiative on education and employment in the framework of the 2020 Strategy. Furthermore, we will focus on youth issues in the context of our external action, in our dialogues and in our development activities. These instruments aim inter alia to address the serious challenges young people face in the access to the labour market and regarding precarious working conditions and uncertain prospects notably due to the economic and financial crisis.
Earlier this year, the European Union contributed actively to the consideration at the United Nations of ways to strengthen the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of older persons. We support the need for governments to take active steps to, inter alia, address age discrimination, poverty, long-term care, neglect, violence and abuse, social protection, adequate food and housing, decent work and health support. We are committed to continue exploring how the enjoyment of human rights of older persons can be strengthened.
We welcome the continued attention devoted to the improvement of the rights of persons with disabilities in the context of the United Nations. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first international human rights treaty to which the EU has become a party, on 22 January 2011. In addition, more than three quarters of the EU Member States have already ratified it. In order to complement the efforts of EU Member States in advancing this important Convention, the European Commission is implementing the European Disability Strategy 2010 -2020 with clear objectives to remove the manifold barriers for persons with disabilities both within the EU and through EU external action. In this regard we welcome and aim to actively contribute to the High Level meeting of the UN General Assembly on disability and development on 23 September 2013.
To conclude, Mr. Chair, I would like to reaffirm our strong commitment to social development and social inclusion, and to finding globally applicable ways of tackling the challenges of today as well as those of tomorrow.
*Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process
† Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area