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On 19 February, Valeria Ronzitti (CEEP General Secretary) and Tor Hattlevol (chair of CEEP Macro-Economic Task Force) addressed the European Commission, the Eurogroup and the Bulgarian Presidency at the Macro-Economic Dialogue.

Highlighting the core priorities of employers of public services and services of general interest, Ms Ronzitti said:

On completing the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU):

“All cards are now in the hands of Members States to make real progress on the EMU architecture. The Banking Union must be swiftly completed to deliver its full potential in making the EMU more stable and resilient to shocks, while limiting the need for public risk sharing. Of equal importance is the investment protection scheme, as it is the quickest way forward to implement a stabilisation function for the Eurozone.”

On promoting investment in social infrastructures:

“CEEP has long advocated for investment in human capital as a catalyst towards upward convergence, resilience and competitiveness. Better policies in areas of education, lifelong learning, health, long-term care and social infrastructure will reduce long-term unemployment, boost productivity and lead to greater resilience, convergence and growth.

The EU should lead the way in developing new investment models and partnerships. CEEP calls EU institutions to take on board the recommendations from the report “Boosting Investment in Social Infrastructure in Europe” and its concrete proposals, ranging from establishing a specific policy window for social investments in the next MFF to boosting the use of strategic public procurement schemes. Those are all ways to reconcile the need for sustainable public finances with the imperative of ensuring long-term growth.”

On 1 February, CEEP launched the 2018 edition of the CEEP CSR Label. All the information on the Label, as well as the self-assessment tool (available in 9 languages), are available on the new website csr.ceep.eu. You can apply following the procedure described on the methodology page and test your compliance with CSR in a few steps.

The CEEP-CSR Label aims to help providers of public services and of SGIs to promote their activities in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility. The CEEP-CSR Label helps awarded organisations to reach this goal. The Label also:

  • Raises your company’s corporate image;
  • Increases your company’s visibility and chances in tendering procedures;
  • Showcases that your company does more than providing services, and does it in a sustainable and environment-friendly way;
  • Helps to improve your company’s compliance with CSR principles;
  • Supports building a European network and exchange of best practices;
  • Increases the visibility of good practices of local public companies towards the European institutions.

On 23rd January 2018, the High-Level Task Force on Investing in Social Infrastructure in Europe, chaired by Romano Prodi and Christian Sautter, presented its final report. Established in February 2017 by the European Association of Long-Term Investors (ELTI), and including CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti, the High-Level Task Force’s mission was to raise political attention to the crucial role of social infrastructure and related services, aiming to enhance public and private investments in this sector. Investment in social infrastructure, both private and public, is far from reaching the level needed to cater for the EU’s current population, nor is the investment always appropriate in view of changing needs and expectations over the coming decades.

To answer this infrastructure gap, the report identifies how to shift from the present scenario with a major social investment gap, towards a scenario we define as ‘smart capacitating strategies’, by focusing efforts on empowering people. In this context, the report illustrates how major bottlenecks could be removed by – among other things – improving technical assistance, financial and non-financial regulatory affairs and facilitating financing.

Proposals are articulated around three main ideas.

  • “Labelling” National and European institutions could grant labels to projects according to social efficiency criteria. These labels could facilitate identification and, in turn, the financing of these projects.
  • “Bundling” projects. As most projects are small-scale projects, requiring a limited amount of investment, bringing them together could reduce the fixed costs and favour their dissemination.
  • “Blending” financing. In the current state of the economy, financing for these projects cannot come from one single body. Mixing public and private financing and/or using social impact bonds, could facilitate the access of Social Infrastructure to financing, while maintaining their unique benefits for the community.

Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary and member of the High-Level Task Force, commented:

“For us, this report shows that very different actors, including bankers, agreed and recommended a setup for a clear EU Social Infrastructure agenda to the Commission, Member States, and all relevant stakeholders. CEEP has been advocating for years that social infrastructures represent an investment in the future and not a cost: this report backs this argument with clear figures and will support our call for creating a single EU fund within the next Multi-annual Financial Framework to support investments, with a dedicated window for social infrastructures. This will create an even better social Europe, reconnecting citizens to the EU project: a “renaissance for social Europe”, to quote Christian Sauter, co-chair of the Task Force.”

Following the presentation of the European Commission proposal for a “Directive for more transparent and predictable working conditions across the EU” revising the Written Statement Directive, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti commented:

“The European Commission proposal confirms what CEEP has been stating over the past few months: the written statement directive touches upon the core business and daily operation of employers and workers; the proposed revision should therefore be a task for social partners, who are the best placed to find solutions with and for their members.

It is our ‘raison d’être’ to solve issues occurring at the workplace. Therefore, we are very disappointed that the European Commission had no choice but to move forward with its own proposal.

With a clear mandate from its whole membership firmly supporting social partners’ negotiations, CEEP and public services’ employers were open to negotiate with trade unions on all aspects of the second stage consultation.

Now that the proposal is on the table, our main lobby activity will consist in pushing Member States to empower national and local social partners to find the solutions we were not able to find at European level.”

On 20 December, CEEP co-founded, together with the European Commission and the EU Social and Economic partners (ETUC, BusinessEurope, UAPME, CEEP and Eurochambers) a ‘European Partnership for Integration‘, laying down key principles and commitments to support and strengthen opportunities for refugees and migrants legally residing in the EU to integrate into the European labour market.

At the signing ceremony, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said: “Employers and providers of public services have a key role to play in supporting the integration of migrants and refugees in Europe. They act both as first responders providing essential services and, later in the process, as employers. Being part of the European Partnership for Integration will help our members to fulfill this two-fold mission, by better supporting and recognising our shared responsibility.”

Among others, CEEP committed to take part to sharing best practices for labour market integration of refugees, for instance the organisation of mentoring programmes to integrate them into the workplace or facilitating the identification, assessment and documentation of skills and qualifications. The European Commission will endeavour, amongst other things, to promote synergies with EU funds, ensure synergies with other related initiatives at European level and continue to work with relevant EU bodies, groups, committees and networks as well as Social and Economic partners to support the labour market integration of refugees.

Following the conclusion of the European Council meeting and EuroSummit this Thursday and Friday, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti commented:

On Social Europe: “For CEEP members, it is important for economic and social progress to go hand-in-hand. The explicit references to social dialogue in the Council conclusions is a clear signal, and we, as a cross-industry social partner, are ready and committed to play our role in reinforcing the Social dimension of the European project.”

On the steps to complete the Economic and Monetary Union: “We welcome the roadmap agreed by the EuroSummit for the next 6 months. Together with our members, we intend to support the proposed agenda, and to positively contribute to completing the EMU. Building a compromise on further strengthening the resilience of our economies is more than needed, and public services providers are well placed to know that resilience and stability are essential to avoid short-sighted solutions in time of crisis.”

On migration: “We support the proposal to create a financial instrument dedicated to stemming illegal migration in the post-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework. Finding future-proof solutions to the migration crises Europe has faced is a necessity: the proposed financial instrument is a part of the answer, and it will help to switch the focus away from the crisis and move it to the very necessary and more important discussions on the integration of migrants in our labour markets and society.”

 

This morning [13 December 2017], Katherina Reiche, President of the German section of CEEP and Chief Executive Officer of the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU), was re-elected CEEP President by the General Assembly of the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services and Services of General Interest (CEEP).

Ms Reiche will work in close cooperation with CEEP Vice-Presidents Milena Angelova (BICA, BG), Tom Beattie (CEEP UK) and Filippo Brandolini (UTILITALIA, IT) until the end of their mandate in December 2022.

Following her election, Ms Reiche (VKU, Germany) said:

“One of the priorities of this mandate will be to further promote the added value of CEEP, both at Member State level and in Brussels. It will also be crucial for CEEP and the future of employers and enterprises providing SGIs to quickly identify our priorities and action plan ahead of the European elections of 2019. I am fully committed to doing everything necessary to give enterprises and employers of public services and services of general interest the visibility they deserve.”

CEEP Vice-Presidents Milena Angelova, Tom Beattie and Filippo Brandolini commented:

Milena Angelova (BICA, Bulgaria): “Over the past few years, CEEP has achieved important results, strengthening its internal governance, increasing its visibility in Brussels and in Member-States, continuing efforts for the recruitment of new members and positively influencing EU legislation. This new mandate for the Presidential Team will allow us to continue this positive work.”

Tom Beattie (CEEP UK): “Following the decision of the UK voters to exit the European Union, CEEP UK remains committed to a positive and constructive dialogue between the United Kingdom and the European Union. As it is important to avoid burning all the bridges, this new mandate will be for the Presidential Team an opportunity to work for a positive future relationship between EU and UK.”

Filippo Brandolini (UTILITALIA, Italy): “Modern public services and services of general interest (SGIs), serve the fundamental goals of the EU, supporting business, social and territorial cohesion, economic and social solidarity and a better quality of life for all citizens, as well as sustainable development and circular economy. I am confident that the range of expertise and geographical balance of the CEEP Presidential team will allow us to carry our message throughout Europe, especially ahead of the European elections in 2019.”

Following the presentation of the European Commission’s proposals to complete the Economic and Monetary Union, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti commented:

“We believe that the European Commission has fulfilled its commitment to swiftly complete the Economic and Monetary Union. Following the presentation of today’s package, it is now up to the Council and the Member States to pick up the issue and move forward. The December EuroSummit will be an important moment to create a momentum on this issue, and show a joint political will to move ahead.”

“To create a macroeconomic stabilisation function, CEEP emphasised a clear support for a European Investment Protection Scheme as a tool to give a clear stabilisation function while protecting key investment for the future. We welcome the proposal of the Commission to create such scheme, as this option is truly future-oriented.”

“We also acknowledge the need to integrate the substance of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG) into the Union legal framework. However, explicit references to the flexibility must be integrated and should be an integral part of the future TSCG. The current ‘conceptual approach’ is far from being enough.”

“Finally, we hope that the proposed new European Monetary Fund will allow to better reconcile the Member States’ stability needs, while supporting the recovery of the European economy.”

CEEP represented today employers of public services and services of general interest at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth. Valeria Ronzitti (CEEP General Secretary), Ivailo Kalfin (Member of the National Council of BICA, CEEP Bulgaria) and Sergio Gasparrini (ARAN President, CEEP Italy) made the case for the key role that efficient and effective public services can play in the construction of a Social Europe. CEEP Sweden, represented by Lena Micko (President of SALAR), Eva Liedström Adler (Director General of SAGE) and Ulf Olsson (President of CEEP Sweden), reinforced the CEEP positioning by bringing in the voice of the well organised and effective Swedish public sector, where social dialogue and collective bargaining play a great role.

Already yesterday, during an extraordinary meeting of the EU institutions with the social partners, the CEEP delegation had the opportunity to deliver its message.

Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

 “For us, employers of public services, this Social Summit is the opportunity to demonstrate the business case for Social Europe: economic and social progress must now go together. It is more than needed, as our services are at the core of sustainable growth, territorial cohesion and social inclusion.”

Eva Liedström Adler, Director General of SAGE (Swedish Agency for Government Employers), emphasised the central role of social dialogue:

“Social dialogue must be based on trust capacity and political will. Trust must exist between employers and unions. But trust must also be given to the social partners by governments and the EU institutions by means of autonomy and support in capacity building. Social dialogue sometimes take time but given trust and capacity, social dialogue delivers!”

Today, at the Social Summit, CEEP representatives played an active role in the parallel sessions.

Lena Micko, President of SALAR (Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions), presented the positions of Swedish employers of public services on gender equality and the integration of arrived migrants, as key elements for sustainable growth and employment. She emphasized more specifically the importance of early initiatives to speed up the process of moving migrants with education and experience into jobs in understaffed professions.

Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, presented CEEP views on the topic “In between jobs: supporting transitions”, emphasising the importance of investing in skills: skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling are more than just buzzwords. Investing in skills is key to increase flexibility and support the digital transition. However, employers cannot do it alone: We need investments in our education systems, we need to use the Plan Juncker 2.0 to invest in human capital, as suggest by President Macron, and we need a focus on employability instead of being obsessed by the need for exact anticipation of skills needs. Finally, we need a workforce ready to embrace change and that is why we need effective social dialogue.”

On the occasion of the Social Summit, CEEP also signed two joint declarations:

In views of the Social Summit for Jobs and Fair Growth, members of the Public Services’ Employers’ Forum (PSEF) adopted the following joint statement:

Sans titre

  • The members of the Public Services Employers’ Forum (PSEF), representing Public Services and Services of General (Economic) Interest (SG(E)I) employers and providers, welcome the actions of the EU institutions to develop the social dimension of Europe and bring more balance between economic and social.
  • Public services and SG(E)I are a cornerstone of the EU Social Model and have a central role to play in ensuring the citizens’ quality of life, supporting the development of European businesses and contributing to the growth and competitiveness of the EU.
  • Access to public services and SG(E)I is key to reduce inequality, and are better suited to do so than the combined effect of taxes and social benefits. We plead for public services and services of general (economic) interest to be placed at the heart of the project for a Social Europe, and to be considered a key issue in every Member State.
  • We call upon the EU institutions and Member States to support the development of a strong framework for modernised and high-performing public services and SG(E)I, able to reconnect citizens and enterprises with the European project.
  • The PSEF believes that the EU initiatives on the social dimension should support the development of local and regional policies in the fields of skills, education, healthcare and lifelong learning. Access to funding should be facilitated and accompanied by an adequate legislative framework at the appropriate level of decision.
  • It is fundamental to promote gender equality and sustainable employability (i.e. work-life balance), and to provide active support for employment (particularly youth) to facilitate professional transitions, address technological change and the digital transformation, demographic trends and the integration of migrants into the labour market.
  • It requires investment in education and training, as new skills and competences are needed to properly face the challenges posed in all sectors by the globalised economic environment. It is our joint responsibility to ensure that workers are provided with the capacity to continue learning and developing skills, in order to adapt effectively to changes.
  • Meaningful participation of employers and providers of public services and SG(E)I is crucial in achieving results in the development of a Social Europe.
  • It is indeed particularly central to acknowledge the importance of social partners and social dialogue. This role should be explicitly recognised and respected when shaping Social Europe, and it should be so at all levels of decision-making (EU, national, regional, local).
  • It remains critical to recall that a “one size fits all approach” cannot work in the realm of EU social policy. It is key to take into account the specificities of each system: social partners at national, regional and local level are the best placed to anticipate the implications of new social policy initiatives.
  • National ownership and political commitment are needed from Member States. Employers of SG(E)I and public services are essential for social cohesion and employment in Europe.
  • We believe that public services and SG(E)I should be considered as a transversal priority for the European Union. We also call upon the Council to ensure that there is a proper balance betweenour stabilisation and sustainability needs, including for public investment.
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