Opening Remarks: OECD-SRSS Cooperation Signature Ceremony

On 16 October 2019 Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa and Martin Verwey, Director General of the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS), signed a document solidifying the collaboration between the OECD and SRSS at the OECD Headquarters in Paris, France.

Ambassador Didier Lenoir, Director General Maarten Verwey, Ambassadors, Directors, Colleagues,

I am delighted to welcome you at this ceremony to seal in and celebrate our collaboration with the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS). Let me in particular thank Maarten Verwey, the Director General of the SRSS and his team, Daniele Dotto, Sébastien Renaud and Ana Lope-Garcia for being with us today. We have certainly come a long way together since we met in Brussels at the end of last year to structure this cooperation. Today, we are very happy to officially join forces with the SRSS and support the European efforts to help advance a strong agenda on structural reforms.

This is a timely gathering as we witness the launch of the new Presidency of the European Commission. On that note let me mention that we are particularly proud to see the EU lead the way be electing a woman for President for the very first time, and a woman to govern the European Central Bank. The EU is walking the talk on gender equality!

The goals of the new European Commission resonate well with OECD objectives; that is to ensure that our growth models deliver for people, and for the planet. Combating climate change, achieving social justice, and dealing with the digital transformation, are objectives that bring us together.

It is my pleasure to recall that the OECD has been collaborating closely with the European Union since 1960. Our co-operation with the SRSS is in fact an extension of this collaboration and the extension of this work could not come at a better time. Joining our efforts in this way makes us stronger in a particularly complex moment. As highlighted in the OECD’s Interim Economic Outlook released in September, we must start investing more in structural reforms if we are to prevent a deeper slowdown of global growth. It is clear that, beyond macroeconomic objectives, the plan for further growth requires a strong component of structural reforms. This is also the main lesson from the financial crisis that led to the European Semester, and the OECD has been an active partner since the very beginning of the crisis, notably by working closely to support Greece. It is by working on structural reforms, which are the DNA of the OECD, that we can lay the foundations for more productive, innovative, inclusive and dynamic economies.

We are grateful for the excellent opportunity, provided by the SRSS, to have greater policy impact and to ensure more effectiveness in advancing structural reforms directly with governments on the ground. I am convinced that this co-operation is a win-win for both the EU and the OECD. It takes advantage of the support the EU has provided the OECD with for so many years, in advancing important policy agendas, most notably through its generous provision of Voluntary Contributions. This partnership leverages the investment made by the EU in the OECD until now, which should ensure a high rate of return for our European Members!

It is with great pleasure that I announce that the grant agreement we are sealing in today comprises 34 projects in 18 EU countries! These projects will lead to improved labour markets, education systems, innovation, governance, environmental protection and you name it. To mention only a few of these ambitious projects, we will for example be supporting the Czech authorities with the preparation of a new national circular economy strategic framework, developing a new National Basic Skill Strategy in the Netherlands and improving the provision of labour market services in Estonia and Slovenia.

I am delighted to tell you that we have received much positive feedback on this co-operation, both from our partners in national administrations and from our counterparts at the SRSS. This feedback confirms the quality and relevance of OECD support to delivering on government reform priorities.

Let me take this opportunity to thank our Ambassadors for their positive reception of this co-operation. Each project contributes to advancing national reform programmes by capitalizing on the cutting-edge skills and human capital developed in this house. The OECD is contributing with the best of our talent, as represented also by our experts present here today. Therefore, I extend my gratitude to Directors, counsellors, project managers, experts and corporate services staff for contributing to the success of this initiative.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In a geopolitical environment where we are witnessing an ever-weakening commitment to multilateralism, collective efforts such as those fostered by the OECD-SRSS partnership are our best response. I believe that by delivering on this co-operation, we can prove that even the most important national priority can benefit immensely from international cooperation. Together we must aim to ensure multilateralism’s survival and success and I can assure you that the OECD, as a results oriented do-tank, remains committed to these goals!

Finally, we support and encourage the ambitions of the new European Commission to further reinforce its reform support programme and we will do our best to continue delivering as a constructive, trustful and engaging partner.

Dear Maarten, SRSS colleagues and Ambassadors please count on us, count on the OECD!  Thank you!

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