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:
- 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.
Europe is one of the best places to live, work and do business in the world because our social market economies combine free markets, private initiative, economic freedoms, free movement of people and welfare states designed to deliver social rights and public services. Nevertheless, Europe is still faced with many economic, social and political challenges: insufficient competitiveness and employment creation, inequalities, migration, security issues, and the need to redefine EU-UK relations. These challenges require ambitious European solutions. Together, the European Union and its member states have the means to provide common answers, show solidarity, and make a difference. United we are stronger.
Regarding the European pillar of social rights, the European social partners underline that:
- both economic and social cohesion should be improved. A particular effort is needed to improve the functioning of our labour markets in particular to give our youth prospects of a bright future;
- we want Europe to continue to have the most highly developed social systems in the world and must therefore ensure that we have high performing public services and that the European social model is made more robust and sustainable with the active support of social partners;
- a well-functioning social dialogue at EU, national, sectoral and company level is important to devise efficient policies that will increase European prosperity and ensure social fairness.
European social partners should be consulted on EU policies affecting directly or indirectly employment such as industrial, climate change, trade, digitalisation, labour market and skills policies. Their involvement should be timely, meaningful, and respect the autonomy of the social dialogue in areas of social partners’ competence.
To increase prosperity, giving room for more and better employment opportunities for all generations, we need to improve Europe’s attractiveness as a place to invest and create jobs, mobilising public and private resources, and paying special attention to SME needs as they play a key role for employment growth. We need to achieve a proper balance between our stabilisation and sustainability needs including, where public investment is concerned, through a smart reading of our fiscal rules. In parallel with the extension of the so-called Juncker Plan for Investment, EU and national efforts to remove obstacles to investment, entrepreneurship and job creation in Europe must be stepped up.
To reverse the relative decline of European industry (and given the importance of manufacturing as a growth and job creation driver in all sectors of the economy, including services), we welcome the new Commission communication on industrial policy and jointly call for a structured way forward to turn it into concrete actions, involving the social partners in the strategic group to be put in place.
Concerning the follow up to the Commission white paper on the future of Europe, the European social partners stress the need for ambition in taking the EU forward to be able to cope with the challenges facing us and promote economic and social progress, improving coordination and cooperation in the Economic and Monetary Union and ensuring the proper functioning of the EU single market and its four freedoms.
At the Macro-Economic Dialogue today (6th November, full speech here), CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti called for a further deepening and reform of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). “The EMU represents a major step in strengthening the European project, and will lead to real convergence, meaning sustainable growth and employment“ explained Ms Ronzitti.
Ms Ronzitti highlighted a three-step approach to reach this goal:
- Completing the Banking Union: it remains the flagship of the EMU and would show that governments and EU institutions learnt the lessons of the financial crisis. The European Commission has already done everything possible to unlock the current deadlock around the European Deposit Insurance Scheme. “The ball is now in the camp of Member States and we hope that President Tusk will create momentum at the upcoming December EuroSummit to reach an agreement at intergovernmental level in June”, said Ms Ronzitti.
- Creating a macroeconomic Stabilisation function: CEEP strongly favours the development of a European Investment Protection Scheme. In times of crisis, public investments are the first to be cut from national budgets, and this has extremely negative consequences on future growth, employment and productivity. Such a scheme would protect well identified investments and show that EU and national institutions learnt the lessons.
- Reinforcing the European Semester: there should be a constant effort to reinforce the European Semester, which is the best tool to allow a real balance between economic and social dimensions in the EMU with a focus on upward convergence. Integrating a governance structure on social issues into the EMU governance would support and guide Eurozone members based on commonly agreed standards, while leaving Member States’ room for decisions on their specific social policies. Structural reforms will still be needed, but can only succeed if they meet two requirements:
- To systematically involve social partners, as a guarantee for legitimacy, fairness and democratic accountability, and support for social partners’ capacity-building activities;
- To be geared up towards productivity growth, partly supported by EU funds to boost long term investment; to reach this goal, it is crucial for the EU to be empowered with a strong Multi-Annual Financial Framework, able to support national reforms efficiently, while allowing for a better link with the EU Semester’s priorities.
At the Tripartite Social Summit, in presence of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Council President Donald Tusk and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, CEEP Vice-President Milena Angelova and General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti presented the views of employers of public services on the future of the EU.
“We need to reconcile EU’s economic and social dimensions. Public services’ employers will work with EU institutions and Member States to create a strong skeleton of modernised and high-performing public services to reconnect citizens and enterprises with the EU project. The Pillar of Social Rights contains strong elements for the development of public services, which we strongly support.”
“CEEP also published today its Pulse of Public Services. Its main finding is that a strong investment policy is needed. Public services are strengthening the resilience of our economy. Investment in education is key element to foster productivity developments. Investment in healthcare will ensure that we properly mitigate the consequences of demographic ageing. And physical infrastructures are the one which enables businesses to evolve in a changing and competitive environment.”
“On top of investment, one of the key condition to ensure to get back to stable and sustainable economic and social progress remains the swift completion of the banking, economic and political union. Nothing less than the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union will structurally lift Europe out of the crisis. And we should not lose sight of the agenda set up by the Commission for the future of Europe.“
Following the presentation by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker of his State of the Union, CEEP commented on the proposals and visions brought forward:
On a Vision for Europe:
This State of the EU address is very ambitious and sets a clear direction for the Future of Europe, based on the principles of freedom, equal rights and opportunities and the rule of law. “CEEP is particularly interested to hear President Juncker calling for renewing the exercise of the ‘Spitzenkandidaten’, as well as his intention to push for pan-European lists at the upcoming elections in 2019,” explained CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti. She added that “it is that kind of ideas which will make citizens realise that the European democracy is more than the sum of the 27 national realities.”
On Social Cohesion and Economic Growth:
Several of President Juncker’s proposals have been called for by CEEP for the past few years. As such, having a European Commissioner endorsing the role of Minister of Finances for the Eurozone and chairing the Eurogroup while being accountable to the European Parliament will lead to increased transparency in the decision-making process, and to a more efficient EU Structural Reform Support Service.
President Juncker also clearly called off the proposed two-speed Europe, encouraging all Member States (excepted Denmark, which benefit from an opt-out of the Euro area) to eventually join the Eurozone and identifying the European Parliament as the Eurozone Parliament. “In our Opinion on the March White Paper on the Future of Europe, we clearly ruled out the idea of a multi-speed Europe”, highlighted Ms Ronzitti.
On Migration and Integration of Refugees:
CEEP welcomes the proposals on migration and the integration of refugees. “Those proposals will support the work done by our members to boost the integration of refugees in our societies. As services providers, our members are first responders, providing essential services. And, at the same time, as employers, they need to be able to ensure a smooth integration to the labour market”, explained Ms Ronzitti. “Shutting down illegal migration routes, and opening new legal ones instead, will help to bring the focus on supporting the integration of newcomers in Europe,” explained Ms Ronzitti.
On Fair and Free Trade:
“After years of calling for increased transparency on negotiations of free trade agreements, we are relieved to see President Juncker committing to a full transparency regarding the mandates and positions defended by the EU”, said Ms Ronzitti. This commitment will translate into better accountability, while the European Parliament and national parliaments will have the final say to approve the agreements negotiated.
On the Need to Recognise and Protect Public Services and SGIs:
Valeria Ronzitti added: “We regret that the speech, once again, overlooked the role that public services and services of general interest play in Europe as a cornerstone of our welfare systems. Industrial policy cannot flourish without strong public services infrastructure, just like social rights cannot happen without strong public services. Public services are too often ‘taken for granted’, leading institutions to under-invest in them, putting at risk the whole vision presented by President Juncker.”
“We however intend, as always, to take a pragmatic stand and make the best out of the draft Commission Work Programme up to end 2018 to improve the daily life of public services providers and employers,” Ms Ronzitti concluded.
Ahead of the State of the EU speech by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, CEEP highlights its vision for the Future of Europe with a package of 5 Opinions, answering the European Commission’s White Paper and Reflection papers presented earlier in 2017:
- CEEP Opinion on the European Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe
- CEEP Opinion on the Reflection Paper on the Social Dimension of Europe
- CEEP Opinion on the European Commission Reflection Paper on Deepening the EMU
- CEEP Opinion on the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances
- CEEP Opinion on the Reflection Paper ‘Harnessing globalisation’: The EU in a Globalised World
“Those 5 papers are the conclusions of months of work with all our members. This process started in 2016, when the EU institutions presented their ambition of engaging in a comprehensive reflection on the Future of Europe”, explained Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary. “This package, which was completed in July, has already been presented to the EU institutions, and we now are looking forward to assess tomorrow the State of the EU speech in the light of our position”.
Please click here to consult CEEP Policy Kit with regards to the Estonian Presidency of the European Union (July-December 2017).
Addressing EU Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs at the opening session of the informal EPSCO in Tallinn, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti expressed deep regrets that the EU social partners could not find a common ground to negotiate on work-life balance.
As the social partners are the best-placed to identify, design and implement measures on this issue, Ms Ronzitti encouraged Member States to now work on the proposal tabled by the European Commission in close and constant cooperation with their national, regional and local social partners.
Whilst trusting Member States to find an agreement in co-decision about the majority of proposals from the European Commission’s proposal on work-life balance for parents and carers, Ms Ronzitti expressed strong concerns on a proposed EU-wide carer’s leave. Such a proposal could reveal counterproductive with negative impact on women’s employment. “Women are still the primary carers of dependant relatives in most cases, meaning that we risk adding yet another leave to women. Additionally, as public services workers are in majority women, our members are concerned regarding the potential financial impact this could have, particularly when adding demographic change”, explained Ms Ronzitti. She continued: “Caring for a dependant is in most cases not limited in time, at the difference of a parental leave. It should therefore be for Member States to determine whether it is necessary to introduce a carers’ leave”.
The key aspects of designing support measures for carers which are relevant to people’s life paths must include investments into supporting services for informal carers and formal care services and allow for employee-driven flexibility in employment relations. The high-level Task Force on Social Infrastructures estimated investment needs on long term care at about €262 bln per year, which is more than half of the total estimated investment needs in social infrastructures (estimated at €455 bln per year when education and social housing are included).
CEEP therefore recommends to Member States to adopt a holistic approach on this issue: leave arrangements are not the panacea and the only way to achieve work-life balance.