24 February 2017
Category : Interview
The role of Spain’s Ministry of Employment and Social Security in FIIAPP’s work
We interview Lucía Ortiz Sanz, Adviser to the Technical General Secretariat of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security to talk about the work of the ministry and its link with FIIAPP.
We spoke to Lucía Ortiz Sanz, Adviser to the Technical General Secretariat of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, during her visit to FIIAPP to explain the work of the ministry and its relationship with FIIAPP.
The Ministry of Employment and Social Security, like many other ministries, is one of FIIAPP’s partners and it collaborates by providing experts in the working areas of international cooperation projects.
What is your work at the international level?
The Ministry of Employment and Social Security, like many departments of the General State Administration, has a wide range of international relationships. These are centred mainly in the European environment, where there are a great many institutions, among which we can highlight Europe’s highest cooperation body for employment issues, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council and, as a multilateral agency within the scope of the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the employment dialogue and policy agency par excellence.
What is your relationship with the International Labour Organisation?
The ILO’s work is focussed on developing and drafting the conventions and agreements signed by states, such as international treaties. As an ILO member, Spain participates actively in the configuration of these agreements in working groups through conferences, and furthermore each state supervises compliance with these international commitments. That is strictly its work in the legal realm.
On the other hand, there is an entire supervision system that Spain also is part of at the moment, as we are non-permanent members of the Governing Body of the ILO.
We also have an intense relationship with the ILO in the area of cooperation. The ILO has an office in Madrid, something that is not very common, as there are 187 member states and only 40 offices.
In essence, it is a cooperation relationship that is very centred on labour and employment activities where AECID and FIIAPP play a fundamental role along with the ministry.
What international cooperation issues do you typically address?
The issues we address are always within the scope of our competences: development of institutional capacities, to create and strengthen labour institutions; social dialogue, which also helps to strengthen social agents; the entire issue of decent work, a term coined by the ILO that means legal, protected, declared work under decent working conditions; compliance with legal regulations, legislative, regulatory and legal development.
We also work to support basic institutions in the social-labour context, such as employment observatories, public employment services, promotion and strengthening of youth employment, the area of social security as a minimum social protection network, without forgetting the work of labour inspection as a guarantee of regulatory enforcement.
What is the link between the Ministry of Employment and Social Security and FIIAPP?
FIIAPP is our link to EU projects; on various occasions possible Twinning projects have been studied, the last one with Croatia, a Twinning programme with the labour inspection authorities; in fact, this was embraced enthusiastically by the General Inspectorate for Labour and Social Security. The presentation and defence of the project was done jointly with FIIAPP. We were not awarded the project in the end, but it was very important work.
On migration issues there have also been important initiatives in all areas regarding planning for migratory flows. Moreover, FIIAPP tends to call on experts from the ministry for training activities or to receive visitors when delegations come that need social-labour issues explained to them.
I would also like to mention the synergies we have developed in recent years with FIIAPP. The ministry has sections abroad in our embassies, where FIIAPP has explained first-hand the work it does so that the directors and general secretaries can commit to disseminating this work and informing the beneficiary countries of interesting initiatives, such as the Socieux programme, so that the sections end up becoming like antennas that broadcast information.
What is your role in the project FIIAPP is managing in China?
The project reached us around 2012, precisely through FIIAPP, which was looking for partners in a project called EU-China Social Protection Reform.
The Chinese giant, who we all have our eyes on, has been weighing the need for internally-driven growth for years. For this it needs to lift several million people out of poverty and also to guarantee them a minimum income all through life. This income would generate a minimum level of spending and demand. This minimum income is aimed at social protection of the elderly. In a culture where the tradition was to have one child and for this child to take care of the parents in their old age, this is a major change.
FIIAPP called on us to assist in this project, which has three lines: the first more focussed on the issue of pensions, protection and formation of a comprehensive social security system, as China does not have just one social security system; a second component focussed on the issue of use of the Chinese social security reserve fund; and a third more focussed on social protection in the work being done by the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, from the Ministry of Employment and Social Services, which is also the one that absorbs the most money.
How will the 48-month duration of the project be used?
During this time, the European and Chinese counterparts will work on joint activities and pilot projects to test out the possibilities for improving China’s social security system. We, one of the seven EU member states in the consortium, have been present at all the high-level meetings, of which there have been two.
We have received the delegations in extended, two-week study and training visits. A great deal of effort and time has been dedicated to teaching and showing the strengths of the Spanish social security system that we consider could be useful for China. Furthermore, within the process of resizing social security in Europe, we have been one of the countries at the European level which has shown that it is reaching the community level. This has led to a direct relationship with the Chinese counterpart, a very important intensification of our link with the Chinese embassy and Chinese authorities and, above all, a translation of the need for social protection and of our track record of good work in this area.
One of the objectives is to intensify bilateral relations between Spain and China. To this end, China has asked us to create a memorandum of understanding on social security.
Clearly this is an interesting project that puts Spain in a good position in its international relations with China.
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