Mister President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Romanian delegation, I have the great pleasure to congratulate you for chairing this meeting. We are confident that under you skilful guidance the present session will contribute to the enhancement of the partnership between ILO and the European member countries in their search for finding common solutions to the challenges of this end of millennium.

Mister President,

A decade ago, Romania, alongside with other Central and Eastern European countries, has chosen the irreversible path of democracy and market economy, which implies, first and foremost, the establishment of appropriate mechanisms, institutions and legislative framework with the aim to craft a market economy functional system.

The fundamental goal pursued by all governments issued out of the democratic elections after December 1989 was to fulfill the strategic national priority, namely Romania's preparation for the accession to the European Union. This priority enjoys the support of the entire political spectrum as well as the vast majority of the population. In this context let me stress our satisfaction for the positive results achieved at the EU summit in Nice, which prepares further the ground for the EU enlargement and offers a more concrete perspective of an integrated Europe.

For Romania the endeavors for recovering the economic disparities in order to attain the targets of the integration to the European economic and political structures represent a major task and challenge. This year we witnessed a series of major developments in respect to the internal preparation for the accession, testifying also the continuing efforts of the Romanian society to cope with and adapt itself to the demands of the new global trends:

  1. At the national level the institutional network was tailored and improved to better meet the expectations of the social partners, facilitating the implementation of policies and programs in a more cohesive manner through the participation of the social partners in the decision making process.

    As a result, the National Agency for Employment and Vocational Training was set up this year as an autonomous public institution, managed by a tripartite board of administration, which organizes and coordinates at the local and national level the activities of employment and vocational training.

    Complementarily, the National Council of Adult Vocational Training was established as an independent tripartite structure for supporting the process of convening the national strategies according to the market demands in this field.

    In the fight against illegal practices of employment, the Labor Inspection Unit was mandated with the enforcement of legal provisions in the field of industrial relations, job-related safety and health, protection of employees working in special and difficult conditions as well as the observance of the provisions on social insurance.

    In order to improve the vocational training, the Government of Romania concluded bilateral agreements with Switzerland, Hungary and Germany. At the same time, efforts were made for establishing or redefining the legal bilateral framework with other states in the field of social security, primarily regulating the situation of migrant workers. These new agreements are aimed at eliminating the discriminatory provisions for this category of persons, the recognition and aggregation of insurance periods, establishment of mechanisms for co-operation between national institutions and authorities responsible for granting social security benefits.

    The redesign of the social insurance system, by setting up capitalized pension funds, and the extension of the benefits and social services in order to avoid social exclusion remained a constant concern for the Government.

    In the process of legislative and institutional reform of the social insurance system a new Law on public pension system and other social insurance rights was adopted. The law will fully enter into force on the 1st of April 2001. The National House of Pensions and other Social Insurance, a public autonomous institution of national interest, is entrusted with the management of the public pension schemes and other social insurance rights.

    The legislative framework for organizing and functioning of the universal privately managed pension funds was adopted with a view to multiply the benefits offered by the public system of social insurance, especially in order to raise the salary/pension replacement rate.

  2. The promotion of the international labor standards remains a major objective of the Romanian Government. To this end, Romania has undertaken significant efforts, in spite of the domestic economic difficulties, to ratify and implement into the national legislation the international standards in the field of labour, social partnership, job-related safety and health, promotion of equal opportunities and child protection, contributing, thus, to the fulfillment of ILO's strategic objectives. As a solid proof of Romania's engagement in supporting the application of high labor standards it worth to mention the fact that Romania is among the 5 countries, which have ratified the amended European Social Charter. This year also 6 new conventions in the maritime field were ratified bringing at 50 the total number of conventions Romania is already party to.

    Recognizing the important role the state must play in the field of child protection, by the Law no. 203/November 15, 2000, Romania ratified the ILO Convention no 182/1999 on the worst forms of child labour and immediate action with a view to its elimination. By ratifying this convention, Romania joined the countries that ratified all the ILO fundamental conventions.

    On the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Government of Romania and the International Labour Office was set up and is running the program of "National action for the prevention and progressive elimination of child labor". This program contributes to the prevention and the progressive elimination of the child labour and to tackle the street children issue, by granting assistance in four main fields:

    • Prevention of child labor both in the rural and urban areas;
    • Strengthening the governmental and NGO's capabilities with a view to ensure the implementation and long-term support of the national policies and programs in fighting against child labour;
    • Increasing the quality of research in areas of child protection;
    • Raising public opinion awareness on the issue of child labour.

    Between 1996 and 2000, with the support of Multidisciplinary Team in Budapest, Romania hosted several national tripartite round-tables as well as a subregional tripartite seminar on international labour standards. The seminars have covered a wide range of issues allowing an in-depth exchange of views between social partners and Government representatives.

    As a result of the broad consultations between the members of the Economic and Social Council this year was signed the Program of cooperation between Romania and ILO for the period 2000-2001, which will be implemented with the support of the Multidisciplinary Team in Budapest.

    This program represents a new step in consolidating the technical cooperation with ILO in the field of social protection, employment policy, international labour standards and labour legislation, and improvement of work environment.

    Along those lines, I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to express the gratitude to the International Labour Office for the constant support it has given to associated countries, including Romania, in the process of accession to the European Union and to reiterate, once again, the commitment of the Romanian Government to actively participate in the relevant technical cooperation programs of the ILO in the field of labour and social protection.

    Thank you.

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