On the occasion of the first day of the third regional conference on the EU Arab Partnership, organised by the ANND and the Euromed NGO Platform with the support of SOLIDAR in Beirut on 30-31 October 2015, SOLIDAR has launched the Social Protection Monitoring (SPM) of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) with seven country reports on Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.
The country reports show that the European Southern Neighbourhood countries are continuing to suffer from:
- Lack of/discrimination in the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs): Although several states have ratified or are signatories to international human rights conventions, transposition into national legislation or effective implementation is ineffective in several countries. Access to or the full enjoyment of ESCRs is widely limited, thus hampering the possibility of progressively realising and enjoying other human rights.
- Lack of universality in the implementation of social protection (SP) systems: SP systems are generally fragmented and not universal, and work on an individual and short-term basis. Governments are also spending too much on short term poverty alleviation policies which do not lead to long term and economic social investments or address the structural causes of poverty and social inequality. SP systems are also economically-oriented and based on the belief that it is a service and a charitable act and not a legal State obligation stemming from international human rights law. For this reason, there is an urgent need to reassess the role of the State and the need for a legal framework on social protection based on human rights.
- Serious restrictions to the right of freedom of association and peaceful assembly and collective bargaining. Freedom of association is recognised as an enabling right that underpins inclusive development, in which decent work and social protection and the progressive realisation of social, economic and cultural rights (ESCRs) are key. The right to form a trade union is restricted or violated in almost all surveyed countries, and labour strikes are criminalised, with cases reported in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Algeria. The absence of a genuine and effective social dialogue bringing together all concerned parties, including civil society, is also a major trend.
In the light of the upcoming revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), we call on the EU to:
1. Foster a comprehensive agenda to promote ESCRs and the human right to social protection:
- The EU should promote economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) in its external relations as a tool to ensure the progressive realisation of all human rights, including the full realisation and enjoyment of the human right to social protection for all.
- The EU should promote the ratification of international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs), and its Optional Protocol, and promote the transposition into national legislation of international human rights clauses and ILO core labour standards, as instruments to promote the implementation of National Social Protection Floors (SPF), as per ILO Recommendation 202, in compliance with the human rights principles of equality, universality and non-discrimination, including accessibility, adaptability, acceptability and adequacy.
- The EU should promote, though its external policy frameworks such as the European Neighbourhood Policy and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, the implementation of ILO Recommendation 202 on National Floors of Social Protection, and adopt a roadmap to integrate the implementation of the four social security guarantees in EU external policies and programming documents (Action Plans, Single Support Frameworks)
2. Promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining
- The EU should take a more active and vocal role in fighting violations and restrictions on CSOs and trade unions, in order to provide them with an enabling environment to engage in policy-formulation, programming, implementation, monitoring and the evaluation of public policies at national level, and to promote transparent and meaningful social dialogue with the participation of CSOs.
- The EU should promote a structured regional dialogue between EU institutions, progressive political forces, CSOs, trade unions and all relevant stakeholders, in order to ensure a consultative process in the definition, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of EU regional, bilateral policies and programmes. Consultations and dialogue with CSOs should be broadened to include diverse levels (national, sub-national etc.) and cover all related sectors (human rights, social protection, trade, aid, environment, energy).
In the past few days SOLIDAR has dedicated its ‘ENP up close’ newsletter to the different topics to be discussed during the Third Regional conference that is taking place in Beirut, Lebanon at the moment.
SOLIDAR and its members and partners are organising the European Neighbourhood Days that will take place on 16 and 17 November 2015 in Brussels.