Remarks by Angel Gurría
OECD, France - 30 May 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
President Macron, President Grybauskaitė, President Santos,
Prime Minister Kučinski, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to once again welcome you to the OECD on this historic occasion as we celebrate the accession of Lithuania and Colombia to the organisation. This is the power of multilateralism in action as we gain in diversity and strength in search of solutions for common global challenges that work for all.
This is a time for celebration! With the accession of Colombia and Lithuania, the OECD becomes a more vibrant, pluralistic and inclusive forum for the exchange and sharing of best practices. We will thus be able to further expand the reach and impact of our evidence-based policy solutions, instruments and standards.
Through the increasingly rigorous accession process, Colombia’s and Lithuania’s policies have been closely examined by more than 20 OECD Committees in fields as diverse as public governance and anti-corruption, environment and statistics, education and fiscal affairs. It has been a 360 degree, in-depth review of both countries’ legislation, policies and practices against OECD standards. OECD peers will continue to monitor Colombia’s and Lithuania’s progress and performance through post-accession reviews and continuous feedback in committees.
The accession process has been a catalyst for impressive reforms, which have not only benefited the two countries, but are also inspiring learning opportunities for other OECD members and partners facing similar challenges. Let me start with Lithuania.
As a result of the accession process, Lithuania adopted major legislative reforms linked to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the Codes of Liberalisation; to improve the protection of whistle-blowers, the governance of state-owned enterprises and the design of its private pension system. These are only a few examples.
Lithuania joins us on the eve of the centenary anniversary of its statehood, rounding out aspirations for OECD membership across the Baltic States, first jointly expressed by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1996. I would like to applaud the dedication and commitment of President Grybauskaitė. Your leadership has enabled your country to complete the accession process in three short years since the OECD Members decided to open accession discussions with Lithuania in April 2015.
Now turning to the accession of Colombia, joining the OECD confirms the vision of President Santos about Colombia’s rightful place among like-minded democracies. Upon taking office for his first term in 2010, President Santos stated two objectives: achieving the long-awaited peace after more than half a century of internal strife, tens of thousands of dead and millions displaced; and OECD membership as a means to undertake major reforms aimed at modernising the economy, improving governance and well-being and increasing the effectiveness of the public sector.
Through the OECD accession process Colombia has made impressive strides in, for example, reforming its justice system and reducing informality in the labour market. The accession process has been instrumental in the design and implementation of new national policies, such as on water and chemicals management. Colombia took important steps to improve its governance of state-owned enterprises, including removal of ministers from the boards. To comply with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention Colombia significantly modified its corporate liability regime. The list of reforms goes on.
Mr President, you have achieved both objectives – peace and OECD membership! You got the Nobel Prize for building the peace! Well deserved. Today, we offer you a new network, a new support system, a new family and a group of dedicated men and women to enhance the future of Colombia.
President Santos, President Grybauskaitė,
Let me thank you both for your exceptional leadership and commitment in your path to OECD membership. We are counting on your active contribution as we, together, continue to design, develop and deliver better policies for better lives. Welcome to the OECD!