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OECD and the world economy

Doc. 10291
29 September 2004

Contribution
Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee

Rapporteur: Mr Alain Cousin, France, Group of the European People’s Party


1.       First of all, the rapporteur wishes to congratulate Mr Ates on his excellent report on the OECD and the world economy, while welcoming the more optimistic forecasts concerning the resumption of growth in some Council of Europe member countries.

2.       The rapporteur also wishes to thank Mr Mark Pearson of the OECD’s Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs for his valuable contribution and hopes that positive and constructive working relations will continue in future in these areas of common concern.

3.       The rapporteur congratulates the OECD on its intention to continue its work in the field of sustainable development as recommended in the Enlarged Assembly’s Resolution 1350 (2003).

4.       The Parliamentary Assembly shares the concern about the prospect of approaching overheating of the US economy and the increasingly wide differences in the OECD area which may lead to tensions and trade imbalances.

5.       However, the rapporteur is aware that it is difficult to cover the whole range of the OECD’s activities. Nevertheless it is unfortunate that issues such as population ageing and its impact on pension systems, employment and social cohesion, as well as health policies, are not mentioned.

Population ageing and the risk of a pensions crisis

6.       All OECD countries are faced with the issue of pension systems and the need to reform them to ensure their viability.

7.       According to studies conducted by the OECD, the old-age dependency ratio is set to rise from the current figure of 22% to 46% in 2050 which will require the mobilisation of the largest possible number of workers, in particular older workers, leading to the ending of all arrangements for subsidising early retirement and job release schemes.

8.       The Assembly supports the OECD’s proposal and recommends that member states adapt their employment policies, especially public employment services, to meet the specific needs of older workers, while taking the necessary measures to reduce their dependency on benefits and facilitate their integration in the labour market.

Employment and social cohesion

9.       The implementation of an effective labour market, social protection and health policies helps to enable individuals to lead fulfilling lives.

10.     In contrast, unsuitable policies trap people in the scourges of unemployment, dependency and social exclusion.  It is therefore important to integrate as many people as possible in the working population and help them to remain in employment and progress in their careers.

11.     The rapporteur supports the OECD’s initiative to help governments determine the best means of creating more employment, including better-quality jobs.  In this connection, the OECD’s proposal that consideration be given to ways of striking the right balance between increasing the dynamism of the labour market and guaranteeing adequate protection of employment and incomes will surely bring about substantial progress here.

12.     The rapporteur thanks the OECD for inviting the Council of Europe to take part in the meeting scheduled for the beginning of 2005 on “Expanding opportunities, or how active social policies can be of benefit to all citizens” and supports its action to assess social protection reforms.

Health policy

13.     The rapporteur congratulates the OECD on the publication of the report “Towards High-Performing Health Systems”, which was launched in 2001.

14.     It has enabled governments to learn from their respective experiences and explore new avenues for improving the performance of health systems.

15.     Like the Council of Europe, the OECD aims to make health services universally available.  The issue is all the more important given the current shortage in medical personnel, which is causing frequent problems in medical services and hence also increases in the costs of health systems.

16.     In this context, the Assembly supports the OECD’s plan to collect data and statistics in order to produce performance indicators for OECD countries.

17.     As part of its future activities, the Assembly also intends looking into the questions of the health-care expenditure related to population ageing and of long-term care for elderly people with a view to drawing up health policies designed to help patients and their families.

18.     In this connection, the publication by the OECD of health data represents a very useful source of information on the health systems in place in OECD countries and will serve as a valuable tool both for researchers and for policymakers.

Family policies

19.     With regard to family-friendly policies, the rapporteur welcomes the OECD’s efforts to encourage research on child poverty and balancing work and family life.

20.     In this context, the OECD is due to publish a third series of assessments of the relevant policies, covering New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland, which will include analyses and comparisons of the contributions made by part-time work, parental leave, childcare policies, income-guarantee mechanisms and measures to encourage employers to strike a proper balance between work and private life.

21.     In particular, the report highlights the vulnerability of low-income families and the problems faced by women, who usually have to choose between their careers and their families.

Conclusion

22.     The Rapporteur would like to congratulate the OECD on the considerable progress which has been made in certain areas quoted in the report.

23.     The Rapporteur wishes to stress that  the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and in particular the Committee on Social, Health and Family Affairs, stands ready to work in close co-operation with the OECD on projects of common interest.


Reporting committee : Committee on Economic Affairs and Development (Doc. 10254)

Committee for contribution : Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee

Reference to committee : Standing mandate

Contribution adopted by the committee on 22 September 2004

Secretaries to the committee : Mr Mezei, Mrs Nollinger, Mrs Meunier, Mrs Karanjac and Mr Chahbazian