WELCOME BY MR VAN DER LINDEN,

PRESIDENT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
TO MR ANGEL GURRĶA,

SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE OECD

(Strasbourg, Wednesday 3 October 2007)


Mr Secretary General,

On behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly, may I say what a great honour and pleasure it is to welcome you back to the Enlarged Assembly for this important debate. Your first year in office has given us ample evidence of your dynamic and innovative leadership. You have taken the Organisation forward into new territory, as demonstrated by the OECD Council’s landmark decision last May to invite Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia to open discussions for membership of the Organisation, and to offer a closer relationship, leading to possible membership in the future, to Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

These prospects for OECD enlargement take account of global economic realities and can only strengthen the Organisation’s capacity to offer all its member States sound policy advice.

I would also like to welcome among us the new Deputy Secretary-General of OECD responsible for the Political Economy of Reform and for relations with parliaments, Mr Aart de Geus, a former Minister of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands. Congratulations and good luck with your new job!

Our Assembly has always appreciated the opportunity offered by the holding of this annual debate to gain a better understanding of the economic forces shaping our greater European region. The context is increasingly one of globalisation, as we saw this morning in a fascinating debate on its implications for growth, social policies and employment, drawing not least on the findings of the OECD. This closer economic integration of the world is one reason why we value so highly the presence here today of parliamentary delegations from such distant countries as Canada, Japan, and Mexico.

I thank them for making the effort to travel long distances to take part in this debate.

Mr Secretary General, may I now invite you to take the floor.