EEP Group

Speech given by Sean Kelly MEP to the GLOBUS Conference, Brussels

Published: Tue, 03 March 2020

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Colleagues let me begin by welcoming you to our conference here today, which I am delighted to be able to host together with University College Dublin. When I was approached to host this conference, I was delighted with the opportunity to bring key stakeholders together for a discussion on these topics, which are extremely prominent in the work we do here in the European Parliament.

Today we have one of the most broad-ranging panels and audiences I have seen during my decade here as an MEP. This Policy Dialogue brings together all of those working in the promotion of global justice: the researchers who assist us with their excellent and expert inputs to the policy-process; the policy makers who work both with them on these key issues; and the policy practitioners who are out there, seeing what is taking place and doing the work on the ground.

I think such a dialogue is necessary for us to understand these issues more comprehensively, and to enhance communication between academics, politicians and practitioners. With this kind of a conference, we can take a step back from our own day-to-day work and try to understand these concepts and practices from another perspective.  I do hope you will find it both educational and constructive.

Helene, the GLOBUS project coordinator will go into more details on the work of the project itself and its specific aims, objectives and what has been done since its inception, but what I found most fascinating about it was its global nature. GLOBUS involves eight partner universities, including universities from Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Norway, South Africa, and, of course, Ireland – a great example of successful international cooperation.

The topics the project covers range from trade and development, climate change, migration, conflict and cooperation, with the gender aspect being underlying concept in each. The overarching prism, through which these concepts and practices explored, is through the EU s impact on justice in a global system characterised by uncertainty, risk and ambiguity.

The research, which is published on the GLOBUS website through different publications including books, articles, research papers and reports, is an excellent resouirce and contirbutes to furthering knowledge and the analytical framework.

I would highly recommend all our guests here to go to the GLOBUS ARENA website and find the information they might be interested in. GLOBUS has also organised a range of events over the life of the project, including Student Days, numerous workshops, lectures, conferences and study tours.

This morning I would like to touch on some of my own related work, which is why I was keen to host this event here today.

First of all, Climate Change – perhaps the most pressing issue facing us during this Parliamentary mandate.

For over five years now, I have worked in the European Parliament to put in place the policies that will move us towards a low-carbon economy, in line with the EU’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. The European Union has been at the forefront of addressing Climate Change and strengthening the global response, and Parliament has constantly been working to ensure this.

What I think is relevant for this conversation in particular is the concept of the Just Transition. The Economic impacts of the transition to a low-carbon economy are mostly positive, however for certain sectors, the transition can be difficult. Areas which depend on the most carbon-intensive sectors are now facing an imminent threat to their economies and this is happening across the European Union.

This is something that we cannot allow it to happen and then try to address afterwards; the frameworks, at both an EU and national level, to ensure a Just Transition must be put in place now. This will need an adequate social protection system, inclusive education, training and lifelong learning. We must invest now to reskill and upskill our population to ensure nobody is left behind.

We need to have a focus on the Just Transition in all Climate-related policy actions to ensure all proposals consider the impact on workers. Policies must be set in a way that achieves the objectives that are necessary to ensure our targets are met, but must allow for the transition to happen in a way that is fair, and people need to be supported throughout.

For this reason, I particularly welcome the Commission’s recent proposal for a €100 billion Just Transition Mechanism. This is of a much larger scale than we had previously expected as part of the European Green Deal and it shows that this new Commission understands this vital need to adequately support those that are set to be most affected by the move away from carbon-intensive practices.

Another area that will be tackled today is Trade, and trade in the context of Global Justice is particularly relevant for me given I have recently been appointed EPP Group Standing Rapporteur on the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

With GSP, the EU’s role in global development by promoting regional integration and creating opportunities for trade and investment is very much an essential element of our trade policy and is vital for global poverty alleviation.

Everything but Arms, GSP and GSP+ work to support development and economic growth in the less developed parts of the world, and I am certain that these are vital policies for global development – we see this in the rate at which GSP beneficiaries have advanced during the period covered by the report.

However, we cannot ignore the problems that persist. The recent proposal for a temporary withdrawal of preferences in Cambodia, for example, shows that not everything is moving in the right direction in every country. It is vital that we remain vigilant in monitoring regression on important development issues and, such as in Cambodia, to ensure that the option of last resort to remove preferences remains a reality for those who refuse to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement.

I’m sure these topics will be well-covered in the discussions today.

To conclude, I would like to thank everyone for joining us here today. I would also like to thank the GLOBUS project – and particularly my old university, UCD, for the opportunity to host them here in the European Parliament. Enjoy the discussions ahead.

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