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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

8 October 2015, New York – Statement on behalf of the Member States of the European Union by H.E. Ambassador Ioannis Vrailas, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 70th Session of the General Assembly Fifth Committee Main Session: Organisation of Work

– As delivered –

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Member States of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me start by congratulating you upon your election as Chairman of the Fifth Committee. Of course, we would also like to congratulate all other members of the Bureau upon their election. We have a difficult task ahead, but we are confident that with your experience and under your leadership, these important negotiations will reach a fruitful conclusion.

We also want to express our gratitude to your predecessor, Ambassador Ružička, for the exemplary way in which he guided our work at our last session and extend our deep appreciation to the Bureau of the 69th session. We are also pleased to be able to draw on the extensive experience of the Secretariat of the Committee, as well as on that of other Secretariat officials and of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), whose contribution is crucial for the successful conclusion of our programme of work.

We also appreciate the briefings that will be organised in the early days of this session. I would like to thank in advance the Under Secretary General for Management, Ambassador Yukio TAKASU, and the other representatives of the Secretariat for their presentations later today.

Mr. Chairman,

The Committee’s agenda for this session is especially heavy and includes many important and complex items. Completing our programme of work before the scheduled end date of the Committee on December 11, will require a collective effort from us all. We do believe we can achieve this goal if we conduct our negotiations effectively and in a constructive spirit. We are convinced that you will guide us in achieving this goal. However, we would also like to reiterate the importance of the timely and simultaneous submission of all required documentation in all official languages, in particular for those time bound issues, which have implications for the 2016-2017 Regular Budget. This is key to inclusivity and transparency that will help us reach a successful negotiated outcome.

We also want to express our attachment to reaching consensus, for the sake of the Organisation.

Mr. Chairman,

There are a few issues we would particularly like to highlight today.

On 22 June our Ministers reiterated through EU Council conclusions that it will continue to be a priority “to ensure the sound management of UN financial resources and staff, including in the negotiations of the next UN regular budgets”. These principles of effectiveness, efficiency and budgetary discipline are crucial, particularly when emerging and growing challenges impel new functions and mandates, which will in turn require a rethink of approach. This implies taking full advantage of the potential of a more effective UN workforce supported by ongoing reforms such as ICT, UMOJA and mobility. This also implies the Organisation managing for results and outcomes, rather than focussing on outputs. This will demonstrate an effective use of resources, as well as the necessary reprioritisation and redeployment of mandates and resources.

In general, we would like to reaffirm our long-standing position that all measures need to be taken to avoid a piece-meal approach, which substantially increases an already agreed Programme Budget. In this respect, we will continue to question the incremental and unpredictable nature of the UN budgets and will introduce reform proposals to this end.

In the current difficult economic climate, it is of great importance to apply the same strict budgetary discipline to UN budgets that member states are applying themselves. With regard to the new proposals for the 2016-2017 biennium, we are willing to work with all members of the 5th committee, and the Secretariat, on the basis of the proposed budget of $5.568 billion and to examine together in an open manner whether new approaches can lead to a more sustainable path for the Organisation. We will also continue to scrutinise with close attention the budgets of the Special Political Missions.

It is also important to recall that the General Assembly decision taken last April stressed the need for a comprehensive solution to the problem of recosting and requested the SG to take into account some improvements in the methodology. EU Member states are willing to continue working on this question and to address recosting for 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 in a comprehensive way.

In the past few months we have seen the results of several important political processes: financing for development, Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and initiatives in the field of peace and security. We look forward, in due course, to more detailed proposals for the implementation of these processes, taking into account principles of effectiveness, redeployment and reprioritization.

As staunch supporters of the United Nations and the principle of effective multilateralism, the Member States of the European Union are committed to providing the Organisation with the necessary resources to conduct its work, while firmly believing there is still substantial room for improving its efficient and effective operation.

Mr. Chairman,

We look forward to considering the proposals of the International Civil Service Committee on the comprehensive review of the compensation system for professional staff, as was requested by the General Assembly some 2 years ago. We will also have to examine carefully the proposals for financing major construction projects, in particular the Long-Term Accommodation Needs and the Strategic Heritage Plan. Other important issues that will be before us this session include UMOJA, ICT and the proposals for the Global Service Delivery Model.

Addressing the Scale of assessments for the Regular Budget and the rates of assessments for peacekeeping operations for the first time in three years, we firmly believe that a fair and more balanced way to share the budgetary responsibilities of the United Nations is essential to the effective functioning of the Organisation. Ensuring the effective funding for the Organization is the joint responsibility of the membership. However, while we will continue to advocate the need to protect the most vulnerable countries from excessively contributing to the costs of the Organisation, one should recognise that all member states with a capacity to do so should take a larger share in the expenses of the Organisation.

Finally, allow me, Mr Chairman, to make clear the wish of the EU Member States to work with you and all members of the Fifth Committee in a spirit of constructive cooperation, consensus and collegiality. Recently, there has been much discussion about the working methods of this Committee; many good ideas were put forward, and many best practices and lessons learned could be drawn from the other main committees of the UNGA, including in terms of documentation management. We should collectively begin to implement these proposals and suggestions, with a view to negotiating all items in a consensual and timely manner.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

  • Ref: EUUN15-139EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Fifth Committee - Administrative and Budgetary Committee
  • Date: 08/10/2015

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