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Procedure : 2005/2061(INI)
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Document selected : A6-0308/2005

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PV 14/11/2005 - 13

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PV 15/11/2005 - 9
PV 15/11/2005 - 9.11

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Tuesday, 15 November 2005 - Strasbourg
Social dimension of globalisation

European Parliament resolution on the social dimension of globalisation (2005/2061(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled 'The Social Dimension of Globalisation - the EU's policy contribution on extending the benefits to all' (COM(2004)0383),

‐   having regard to the report of 24 February 2004 of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation (WCSDG), entitled "A fair globalisation: creating opportunities for all",

‐   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and of the Committee on Development (A6-0308/2005),

A.   whereas although globalisation has many positive aspects and the global market economy, thanks to the progress of scientific knowledge, has demonstrated great productive capacity, the process of globalisation is generating major economic and social imbalances both within and between countries, which is a matter of intense social concern, given the high unemployment and poverty afflicting large sections of society throughout the world,

B.   whereas globalisation increases the gulf between rich and poor, and whereas there is a need to invest heavily in people at all levels of society and of all ages in order to counteract its negative effects,

C.   whereas the economy is becoming increasingly global and politicised, and regulatory institutions remain largely national or regional, and whereas none of the existing institutions provides democratic monitoring of global markets or redresses basic inequalities between countries,

1.  Welcomes the Commission Communication, which enables an initial debate to be launched on the WCSDG report, with a view to establishing the EU's policy in this regard, but at the same time expects that the Commission will come forward with more concrete proposals for internal and external EU policies in this field;

2.  Agrees with the WCSDG that globalisation must be a process with a strong social dimension based on universally shared values, respect for human rights and individual dignity, and must be fair, inclusive and democratically governed, provide opportunities and tangible benefits for all countries and people, and be linked to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);

3.  Believes that the EU can make a significant contribution to this process through both its internal and external policies, through its social model and its development at international level and through the encouragement of global cooperation based on mutual respect, constructive dialogue and recognition of our common destiny;

4.  Notes the reference in the WCSDG report to the unequal distribution of the benefits and burdens of globalisation among and within the countries of the world, and notes that only in Asia has the distribution situation improved since the 1990s;

5.  Considers that globalisation should mean not just that the EU can sell more outside Europe, but that third world countries, in particular, should be enabled to sell more to the EU in order to boost their growth, employment and social inclusion levels; recognises that the Common Agricultural Policy will need to be reformed if this aspect of globalisation is to be delivered and if the "Make Poverty History" campaign is to enjoy success;

6.  Calls on the Council and Commission to ensure that the EU's commercial, agricultural and foreign policies are compatible with development policy, as set out in Article 178 of the Treaty, and with the MDGs;

7.  Considers that the European Union should take practical action to combat poverty by adopting a more cogent policy on agriculture and trade in combination with debt forgiveness and aid;

8.  Stresses that there is a strong interrelationship between poverty and environmental damage: environmental problems, such as the reduction in biodiversity or climate change, often affect the poorest in society and aggravate their poverty, and poverty leads to increased environmental damage when there is no alternative to plundering natural resources; accordingly the social dimension of globalisation must be considered in connection with the environmental dimension;

9.  Welcomes the Lisbon mid-term review report and stresses that the revised Lisbon Strategy could serve as a useful tool in meeting many of the challenges of globalisation; reiterates its support for the Lisbon strategy, which stresses the interdependence of the economic, social and environmental dimensions; regards the creation of more and better jobs as an essential prerequisite if the world is to develop in the direction of social justice; points out that some aspects of good practice in Member States may serve as a model for other parts of the world; notes, however, that they can only do so when Member States succeed in implementing the necessary structural reforms by mutually strengthening and adapting their economic development, employment and social policy; highlights the need for efficient governance to achieve these reforms and urges Member States and their governments to take responsibility for making the revised Lisbon Strategy a success; stresses furthermore the importance of cooperation between the Member States in order to step up investment in human resources, research and innovation; considers that the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy are minimum goals which the Member States should commit themselves to complying with;

10.  Welcomes the Commission's acknowledgement that to maintain competitiveness in the EU, large investments in human resources are necessary, covering people of all ages, in order to guarantee social welfare for all; expects, therefore, concrete measures and proposals for ensuring such investments and calls on the EU to concentrate on improving the development of qualifications at all levels, particularly among the unskilled, to enable workers to exploit the opportunities offered by globalisation and to support companies that take responsibility for the vocational training of their workers;

11.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to promote a social policy agenda with the following objectives:

   - the development of an inclusive and cohesive society, which presupposes measures in favour of stable employment and respect for workers' rights;
   - the promotion of a society based on gender equality and the combating of all forms of discrimination;
   - a social policy which takes account of all groups;
   - participatory democracy as a component of the various social and employment policies;

12.  Stresses that effective labour market rules and systems of social security cannot be achieved by governments alone, it is necessary to include the social partners, who have the right to participate in the decision-making process both at national level and European level; considers that a further boost must be given to the opportunities for and capacities of employers' organisations and trade unions to enter into a constructive social dialogue, since this is essential in order to mitigate and tackle the potential negative social consequences of restructuring and is also a pre-requisite if the EU is to anticipate the negative consequences and positive opportunities of globalisation;

13.  Stresses the importance of respecting and complying with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), highlights the interdependence and indivisibility of all human rights – including economic, social and environmental rights – and the importance of the ILO Core Labour Standards (CLS) concerning the elimination of discrimination in the workplace, the elimination of forced and compulsory labour, freedom of association, right to collective bargaining and the abolition of child labour; points out that at present neither the principles laid down in the UDHR nor the CLS are adequately enforced;

14.  Notes the WCSDG's view that, as far as the CLS are concerned, practice on the ground often belies decisions and political practices; calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to do everything in their power to promote the CLS in both their internal and external policies and to ensure that no aspect of these policies impedes implementation of those standards; notes the opportunity open to the EU to promote the CLS through bilateral and regional agreements, development and external cooperation, trade policies enabling market access for developing countries, promotion of private initiatives for social development and the promotion of good governance at global level;

15.  Calls for social rights and social dialogue, human rights and the primacy of law, and the protection of the rights of the child, in particular the right to education, to be accorded greater importance in the EU's various external programmes, with a view to priority being given to democratisation and the establishment of the rule of law in developing countries, without which no sustainable development is possible;

16.  Demands that the Commission ensure, through bilateral agreements, that, at the least, the CLS are respected, in order to ensure humane working conditions and avoid abuse of women and children in the countries concerned;

17.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal that bilateral relations could involve positive incentives for products complying with certain social standards; welcomes the Commission's proposal for "joint bilateral observatories" to discuss and monitor the social dimension of globalisation in bilateral agreements; believes, also, that the Union should use its bilateral relations to promote the recommendations of the WCSDG so that jobs which are moved off-shore or relocated outside the EU do not end up being performed in sweat shops in the third world, but, instead, jobs of high quality are created which help to improve the lives of workers and their families in the countries concerned;

18.  Calls on the Commission, in this context, to review all its existing bilateral agreements, particularly Economic Partnership Agreements and Fisheries Partnership Agreements, to ensure that they are fully consonant with the MDGs and the principle of sustainable development;

19.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal that the Commission, the Council and the Member States seek to attain observer status for the ILO at the WTO with a view to improving the quality of interinstitutional dialogue; notes that in its resolution of 4 July 2002(1) Parliament previously called on the institutions and the Member States to seek to achieve this, and now calls on them to make progress in this area; calls, furthermore, on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to work towards making the ILO standards binding on the members of the WTO;

20.  Believes that decent work in line with the ILO's Decent Work Agenda should be made a priority issue at national, EU and global level; stresses that guaranteeing decent work – including labour rights, social protection and equality between men and women – is indispensable in order to effectively eradicate poverty; underlines, however, that that aim is absent from the EU's foreign policy and from the Union's international trade, financial and monetary policies;

21.  Notes that, in the 1999 negotiating mandate for the WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle, the EU was to arrange a ministerial-level conference on the topics of trade, employment and the CLS; notes that the European Union committed itself then to holding this conference by 2001; now calls on the Commission to remedy this omission by June 2006 at the latest; in the run-up to this conference, a dialogue should be opened, principally with the developing member states of the WTO, on the relationship between trade, employment and minimum labour standards;

22.  Believes that the EU as a global actor should be a prime promoter of an agenda of "Decent Work and a Decent Pension for All"; emphasises that certain minimum standards as regards labour rights and social protection should be adopted and acknowledged as a socio-economic 'floor' that would bring long-term welfare to any country in the world, and that jobs, employment and 'decent work' should, ideally be the central features of a ninth MDG to be adopted as soon as possible;

23.  Agrees with the WCSDG that the MDGs are a first step in establishing a socio-economic 'floor' for the global economy, agrees with the Commission that EU policy coherence in this area needs to be strengthened; expects that the Commission will come forward with concrete proposals on how this is to be achieved; underlines that it is useless to reduce the EU's social acquis in order to maintain global competition, but rather that productivity and education should be improved to maintain a higher income level in the EU;

24.  Draws attention to the fact that the regional level is a good level at which to improve social models and meet the challenges of globalisation; points out that the solidarity which exists between the Member States and the enhanced relations between the EU and neighbouring countries through the "European Neighbourhood Policy" may serve as an example to other parts of the world; believes that the EU's partnerships should incorporate a social pillar, covering, among other things, labour standards;

25.  Expects the Commission to use EU funds in order to overcome negative results and open new perspectives for the more sensitive regions and industrial sectors and weaker groups of employees; expects the Commission to take adequate measures to stop companies relocating for the sole reason of obtaining structural or other funds and demands a systematic review of whether long-term objectives in the distribution of such funds are being met;

26.  Stresses that the current economic model is extremely closely geared to oil resources and that this dependency can have an adverse impact not merely in terms of pricing, as a result of energy commodity shortages, but also, and above all, in terms of conflict and political instability in southern-hemisphere producer countries, the social impact of which is extremely serious;

27.  Underlines the importance of fair trade in working towards poverty eradication in rural areas and urges the Commission to carry-out concrete follow-up on pledges to give more technical and budgetary support for fair trade producers and their distributors in EU countries;

28.  Emphasizes that developing and least-developed countries require continuing asymmetric treatment in the WTO to take account of their relatively weak position in the international trading system;

29.  Stresses that the social dimension of globalisation argues for a reform of the WTO regime; stresses further that WTO agreements must be evaluated in the light of their economic, social and environmental impact, and that the 'necessity' tests in the Technical Barriers to Trade and other Agreements need to be replaced by 'sustainability' tests;

30.  Stresses that meaningful democratic control of the WTO must be established, which implies genuine legislative scrutiny by elected representatives or parliaments;

31.  Stresses the importance of policy coherence and agrees with the Commission that the EU should aim to speak more consistently in the United Nations, ILO, Bretton Woods and other international institutions; also calls on the Commission to make efforts towards ensuring that the other ILO member states acheive the necessary policy coherence in other international organisations, particularly the WTO; considers that universally-acknowledged minimum labour standards should be made priorities for these organisations; believes that the EU's leverage to promote a model of development which fully integrates the social dimension, in particular the CLS, would be increased by a unified presence in the institutions of multilateral governance;

32.  Emphasises that, to underpin social progress in the third world, a strengthened United Nations is indispensable; therefore encourages the Member States to support the ongoing work on reform of the UN; stresses that a new and strengthened UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – ideally, reconstituted as a Council for Human Development with the power to coordinate the work of the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and the ILO, as well as the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) – is necessary to secure the policy coherence needed to achieve the MDGs and, more generally, to ensure that globalisation functions as a lever for social progress;

33.  Agrees with the WCSDG that parliamentary oversight of the multilateral system should be progressively expanded; welcomes the proposal for a Parliamentary Group concerned with coherence and consistency between global economic, social and environmental policies, which should develop integrated oversight of major international organisations; regards this as an opportunity for the European Parliament to become involved in the Parliamentary Group and to contribute to maximising the benefits of globalisation for all social groups;

34.  Agrees with the Commission that the private sector and private initiatives, the formation and mobilisation of joint interest groups and global measures by various social bodies (for example NGOs) can make an important contribution to promoting good social governance; welcomes the Commission's support for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which set benchmarks for responsible business conduct; supports the Commission's proposal to increase implementation of the Guidelines by building references into bilateral agreements; agrees with the Commission that implementation of the Guidelines must be more rigorous and consistent; calls on the Commission to continue to raise awareness of good practice, existing instruments and tools such as the OECD Guidelines;

35.  Takes the view that small and medium-sized undertakings cannot be sidelined from active participation in the globalised economy and accordingly urges the Commission to provide incentives for the networking of such undertakings; calls in addition for European company and cooperative statutes to be adjusted to enable undertakings of this type to participate fully in the globalised economy;

36.  Notes that the WCSDG recommends that the ILO convene a global multistakeholder forum on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); notes that the WCSDG acknowledges that there is scepticism about the real impact of CSR schemes; suggests that the Commission undertake further awareness-raising activities to promote the business case for CSR;

37.  Considers that the social and environmental responsibilities of multinationals should be clearly established, and that EU action in this area should be stepped up; believes that concrete follow-up to the work of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum on CSR is long overdue and calls on the Commission to publish its communication;

38.  Supports the Commission's efforts to raise awareness among multinational companies of their social responsibility, which have as yet had limited effect;

39.  Invites the Commission to put forward a proposal on social labelling, based on criteria such as compliance with human and trades union rights, the working environment, training and development of employees, equal treatment and social and ethical consideration for employees and citizens in the surrounding community;

40.  Notes that national migration policies are increasingly designed to meet the needs of domestic labour markets; insists that migration policies must be based on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;

41.  Highlights the need to formulate migration policies based on that Convention, which on the one hand would take into account the needs of the labour market and, on the other, provide adequate protection for the rights of migrant workers and their families;

42.  Notes that migration is an important but also a sensitive topic in the debate on globalisation, which can only be resolved once the Member States have agreed on a common recognition and integration procedure;

43.  Highlights the need to ensure that people are better informed about both the benefits and the challenges of globalisation and stresses the importance of educational institutions and the media in this regard;

44.  Urges the Council and Commission to put the necessary resources and investments into promoting the above processes;

45.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and accession and candidate countries.

(1) OJ C 271 E, 12.11.2003, p. 598.

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