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CEEP Opinion on the European Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe - PDF

Executive summary

  • Our commitment to contribute to the discussions on the Future of Europe comes with the recommendation to render the reflection as inclusive as possible. Europe is not only “Brussels”, and we now need to give back ownership of the EU project to citizens. EU institutions should be in position to rely on national, regional and local parliaments and authorities to genuinely involve citizens in the reflection on the Future of Europe.
  • CEEP believes that the Future of the EU should rely on a combination of 3 of the scenarios brought up by the European Commission: “Carrying on”, “Doing less more efficiently” and “Doing much more together”.
  • “Carrying on”: as raising populism and Euroscepticism is more about how national leaders and authorities are using the “EU blanket” to cover their failures than about the EU as such, “carrying on” can only work against a changed political mindset, especially at Members States level. It could however prove useful for certain specific policy initiatives, such as the Circular Economy Strategy and the EU Strategy for Low-emission Mobility which are priorities for all Member States.
  • “Doing less more efficiently”, in line with the principle “To be big on big things, and small on small things”: Our members regularly reported suffering from over-regulation. They welcome this approach, dealing with key strategic fields for their daily operation, such as the Energy Union or the Digital Single Market. This scenario can work properly in several fields, especially in sectoral policies (such as climate and energy legislations) and the state aid rules, leaving more flexibility to Member States, regional and local authorities.
  • “Doing much more together”: this option must be applied to answer key challenges calling for cross border cooperation, such as the integration of refugees, fiscal policies, a limited set of social policies, cohesion policy and the EU budget. However, we call on the EU institutions to respect the principle of subsidiarity, and not take action (except in the areas that fall within its exclusive competence) if national, regional or local level is better placed.
  • SGIs have a key role to play in the endeavour to improve the performance of public administrations and enterprises, so as to equip them to better cope with the consequences of the economic and financial crises and the challenges of the changing socio-economic models. To ensure proper SGIs and to safeguard EU competitiveness in the future, we call to:
    1. Bring the Acquis Communautaire for Services of General Interest to life: Acquis+;
    2. Put SGIs at the heart of sustainable growth;
    3. Foster social and territorial cohesion;
    4. Support SGIs providers in innovation;
    5. Unleash investments.

CEEP Opinion on the Reflection paper on the Social Dimension of Europe - PDF

Executive summary

  • CEEP members are committed to supporting upward social and economic convergence between Member States and regions. It is critical today to identify which of the paths ahead is the most realistic and achievable to realise this ambition.
  • It remains critical to recall that a unique model that would work for every country does not exist and that only Member States can anticipate the implications of policy initiatives at national, regional and local level.
  • As social partners and as representatives of providers of public services and SGIs, the scenario “Nothing but the Single Market” can surely be excluded. The Single Market is, and should remain, a tool to achieve sustainable growth, territorial and social cohesion. It should not be an end nor the only goal of the European Union.
  • The option for enhanced cooperation should not be established as the main scenario for the future of the EU as it could lead to blocking the EU. There must be limits to differentiation so as to dilute the risk of excessive complexity, and therefore a lack of visibility.
  • There is potential in the scenario “deepen the EU Social Dimension together” and CEEP intends to highlight the following proposals as priorities:
    • To ensure that a genuine EMU is supported by the EU citizens, national reform programmes need to be secured with proper social dialogue.
    • EU-wide societal benchmarks and good practice guidelines on access to child-care services, active ageing and access to enabling services should also be integrated within the social dimension of the European Semester.
    • Quantifiable European employment and social targets should be integrated within the stability and growth pact rules that govern debt and deficit targets.
    • Short-term economic efficiency must not be at the expense of longer-term investment in social infrastructures.

Opinion on the European Commission Reflection Paper on Deepening the EMU - PDF

Executive summary

  • For CEEP the reflection paper on the future of the EMU should help start considering the Euro zone as a whole and not just as the sum of its individual components. CEEP always considered public investment in key physical and social infrastructures as the main lever to foster growth for the benefit of citizens and enterprises in Europe.
  • CEEP calls for greater involvement of social partners in the design and monitoring of reforms, whilst ensuring that sufficient support is provided for capacity-building activities for social partners engaged in reform programmes.
  • The preparation of the new EU multiannual financial framework, stronger support to reforms and greater links to euro area are clearly identified by CEEP as the main priorities. We advocate the establishment of a self-supporting structural reform support programme under the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
  • CEEP believes that a macroeconomic stabilisation function at euro area level could potentially complement automatic stabilisers at national level under certain conditions. It should take the form of automatic stabilisation and not aim at fiscal fine-tuning of the economic cycle. The stabilisation function would therefore not be a tool to actively steer the euro area fiscal stance, but rather reduce the need for euro area countries to address large country-specific shocks by using discretionary policies.
  • CEEP members could see added value in further elaborating a European treasury, particularly to ensure minimum levels of public investments across Europe. However, CEEP expresses strong doubts on whether the EU would be politically ready to move so strongly toward federalization by 2025. This roadmap seems unrealistic in the present state of the Union.
  • CEEP would be in favour of nominating a special Commissioner for EMU governance or a European finance Minister which would be entrusted with drawing up the macroeconomic policy of the EU while mediating with the EU institutions.

CEEP Opinion on the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances -PDF

Executive summary

  • Overall, CEEP agrees with the European Commission’s (EC) assessment that at a time when Europe must decide on its future, the EU needs a budget that is fit for purpose and makes every euro work for its citizens.
  • On cohesion policy: CEEP strongly opposes any of the white paper’s scenarios which would scale down the EU’s efforts in relation to cohesion policy. Consequently, CEEP invites the Commission, on the contrary, to present a comprehensive legislative proposal for a strong and effective post-2020 cohesion policy.
  • On flexibility: CEEP agrees with the EC assessment that the EU should be able to react effectively and quickly to unforeseen events such as the current migration challenge. Increasing the flexibility should be done in a way that does not harm the function of the budget.
  • On the link with the EU Semester: CEEP strongly supports the reinforcement of the link between the European cohesion policy and the European Semester to encourage and to better support structural reforms.
  • On defining a European added value as a criterion for EU funds: CEEP agrees that European added value should become one of the key criteria for the successful use of EU funds and thus also for the success of cohesion policy. These criteria should be exactly defined from the beginning.
  • On administrative barriers: CEEP urges the EC to address the need to reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries. The EU budget is pressured by the need to be more efficient, really based on simplification, to focus on the areas where its impact is greatest and to ensure that burdensome rules and procedures do not hinder the achievement of its goals.
  • On communication: The increased visibility of the EU action is vital to fight Euroscepticism and can contribute to regaining citizens’ confidence and trust. CEEP highlights that a greater focus must be placed on the content and results of programmes in order to improve the visibility of EU action.

CEEP Opinion on the Reflection paper ‘Harnessing globalisation’: The EU in a Globalised World - PDF

Executive summary

  • CEEP welcomes the European Commission’s reflection paper on “Harnessing Globalisation” and gives its support to a sustainable and innovative EU strategy to shape globalisation, set standards and preserve the diversified European ways of living.
  • In general, CEEP believes that:
    • Services of general economic interest (SGEIs) and non-economic services of general interest (NESGIs) play a crucial role in providing everyone with a decent lifestyle.
    • The EU experiences globalisation directly and this is particularly visible in European metropoles.
    • Sustainability and innovation are the key concepts that provide the framework for thriving lives and entrepreneurial undertakings.
    • The world of tomorrow is not only about digitalisation, but also very much about the fundamental question “in what kind of society and economic order do citizens want to live and what type of social and-economic objectives do they want to pursue?”
  • Therefore, CEEP presents the following recommendations on how the European Institutions and Member States can implement their strategy:
    • The EU should recognise the legislative provisions for services of general interest (SGI) as an Acquis+. SGIs provide citizens with accessible and qualitative services and serve as safety nets, help build citizenship and foster communal spirit. They promote an entrepreneurship-friendly climate that foster the development of metropolitan regions. For this reason, the EU should invest in research on “best practising” metropolitan regions and in transnational infrastructure networks.
    • The EU and the Member States need to invest more in research and human capital through education and concrete lifelong learning opportunities. CEEP suggests that the EU and the Member States should provide risk capital for innovation and pioneering spirit and establish dynamic administrative structures.
    • The EU should also better use the available resources to adapt to demographic ageing. This requires the facilitated inclusion of ageing and disadvantaged people in the work force. Furthermore, differences between rural and metropolitan areas must be reduced through EU-wide stronger cooperation. For a balanced lifestyle, adapting “best practices” and considering them in legislation making is recommended
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