CEEP Opinion on the European Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe - PDF
- 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:
- Bring the Acquis Communautaire for Services of General Interest to life: Acquis+;
- Put SGIs at the heart of sustainable growth;
- Foster social and territorial cohesion;
- Support SGIs providers in innovation;
- Unleash investments.
CEEP Opinion on the Reflection paper on the Social Dimension of Europe - PDF
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Please click here to consult CEEP Policy Kit with regards to the Estonian Presidency of the European Union (July-December 2017).
CEEP Opinion on the Commission proposal for a “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package - PDF
- CEEP welcomes the European Commission proposal for a “Clean Energy for all Europeans” Package and its overall direction. It puts consumers and CO2 emissions’ reduction at the heart of the energy system and contributes in a substantial way to the functioning of the internal energy market which is the basis for the achievement of the EU’s climate and energy objectives in the short and long term.
- CEEP supports the Commission’s ambition to give the Energy Union a reliable governance system, aiming at higher regulatory stability and predictability than in the past through coherent and transparent European coordination. In principle, CEEP agrees that the objectives of climate action, competition and security of supply can be better achieved at European level. However, following the principle of subsidiarity, Member States should keep sufficient leeway for ambitious national climate and energy policies.
- CEEP would like to recall that, in addition to the market integration of power from mature renewable energy sources, a well-functioning market for CO2 is an essential tool to drive investments in low carbon energy infrastructure at the least cost for consumers and tax payers and to implement the European climate ambitions. Therefore, the “Clean Energy for all Europeans” Package cannot be isolated from the ETS reform.
- CEEP deems crucial to ensure that the interplay between the CO2 reduction, renewable energy and energy efficiency targets is fully taken into account. They must not counteract the efforts to strengthen the ETS, supposed to be the EU’s leading tool to achieve its climate and energy objectives.
- CEEP pleads that the ongoing review of the energy market design recognises that system adequacy is vital to the functioning of the European electricity system and that capacity mechanisms are a tool to guarantee that enough capacity will always be available, especially at peak periods to supply demand.
- CEEP in principle welcomes the creation of a EU DSO entity. In this context, it is crucial that the representation of all DSOs is ensured and that EU legislation for DSOs is limited to issues of EU-wide impact and of reasonable importance for the EU internal market development.
- CEEP supports the explicit recognition of new participants in the energy market, such as aggregators, active consumers and local energy communities. However, when shaping the exact roles of different market actors, it is crucial to ensure a level-playing field and non-discriminatory treatment that does not privilege certain actors.
CEEP Contribution to the Upcoming White Paper on the Future of the EU - PDF Version available here
WHERE DOES THE EUROPEAN PROJECT STAND?
Nowadays, the future is happening faster than ever, bringing new opportunities and challenging the established technological, economic, social and political models and patterns. The Revolution 4.0, the Digital Union, the Energy Union, Circular Economy are reshaping our lives daily, pressing the policy makers to redesign and implement new rules.
At the same time, it is not exaggerated to state that the European Union is currently undergoing one of its most critical and existence-threatening phases since the signature of the Treaties of Rome on March 25, 1957. International terrorism, protection of the EU’s external borders, distribution of refugees, tough negotiations on international trade agreements, the Brexit referendum, the EU sanctions against Russia and the ongoing economic and financial crises are just some of the most controversial topics member states of the European Union are struggling to find a common solution to.
In this situation, both EU members states as well as their citizens are questioning the added value of the EU, at a time when staying united is more necessary than ever. Also, European citizens are openly questioning whether the EU is still able to find solutions to the most urgent challenges and to secure solidarity, protection, stability, national traditions and social cohesion. Thus, on top of the above-mentioned crises, the EU is also suffering from a legitimation crises.
This has been the case since at least five years. We remember: In 2012 the European Union celebrated the 20th anniversary of the European Single Market. Back in May 2010, former EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Competition, Mario Monti, presented his so called „Monti Report“ on the state of play of the Single Market. Already in this report Monti declared that the Internal Market was more unpopular than ever amongst the European Society. Already at that time people feared that the Internal Market was undermining their well-established social systems, national traditions and services of general interest.
Thus, we must cope with a feeling that has been growing since almost ten years now. It is foolhardy to think that the EU can solve this problem at a moment’s notice. Together we must think about a joint strategy to come out of this crisis even stronger then we went in.
WHAT CAN WE DO TOGETHER?
CEEP, the EU association representing employers and enterprises providing public services and services of general interest (SGIs) was established in 1961. Since then CEEP has been accompanying European policies in close cooperation with the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Today, CEEP members employ 30 percent of the EU workforce, contributing by one third to the European GDP and representing 500.000 enterprises, amongst which 25.000 local public services and SGIs enterprises.
As social partner, we very well know that the economic and financial crises revealed significant room for improvement when it comes to the performance of public administrations and SGIs’ enterprises. Being close to the citizens and to the enterprises, we also very closely monitor the discussions about international trade agreements, and are aware of the fears of the citizens. Moreover, we openly admit that CEEP and its members might also be partially responsible for questioning the added value of the Internal Market by heavily criticising former attempts of the European Commission to liberalise different kinds of public services.
We do however acknowledge that the Treaty of Lisbon formed a sound basis for the provision of Services of General (Economic) Interest and for the protection of national traditions and identities. We appreciate that, at the latest since the Juncker-Commission, offenses against public services and SGIs have diminished. That is why we totally support the political strategy of the Juncker-Commission “to be big on big things and small and modest on smaller things”. We welcome the holistic approach of the European Union when dealing with those big things namely the Energy Union of the Digital Union, for example. This is already an important lesson learned which the EU can build upon in the next decade.
CEEP is convinced that the current EU crises can only be solved by a strategy that is based on a strong combination of EU and decentral actions. The problems cannot be solved in Brussels, Strasbourg or Luxembourg or by the EU Institutions alone. We need the commitment of the EU member states, national politicians, national social partners, and of the national media. We need to jointly communicate on the valuable things done by the EU, on the real added value it brings. We need to step down from an attitude where the EU is made responsible for everything that does not work or that goes wrong and national politics or associations are responsible for all good outcomes. We need to commit ourselves to a differentiated argumentation.
Employers and enterprises providing public services and SGIs can also do more. First, in their role as social partners. Our members can make and are willing to make a greater contribution, together with their Trade Union counterparts at national, regional and local level, to bring and maintain social peace, create new jobs, reduce levels of poverty. Sustainable results can be achieved through negotiating strong collective agreements as well as by contributing to shaping and implementing ongoing structural reforms. This will mean that national social partners will take ownership of reforms and increase their acceptance by citizens.
But we also have a role in acting as mediators between the EU and our members. When it comes to international trade agreements, for example, we have successfully convinced most our members that in case some red lines are guaranteed, international trade agreements are valuable and necessary assets for making the EU a strong economic player vis-à-vis third countries.
In the same way, we are constantly communicating to our members, and the citizens they serve, about the importance for the EU to keep a leading role in climate and sustainability policies. EU’s unique possibility to handle these questions and combine them with cohesion policies, at a general level, should be further promoted. It is about issues/questions where EU initiatives play a major role, in relation to each member state’s action. In this framework, we are committed to doing our share, especially through the, CEEP-CSR-label that encourages public services and SGIs’ providers into sustainable and socially responsible practices in all aspects of the services’ delivery (towards the environment, the citizens, the workers, the stakeholders).
Moreover, CEEP members want a strong European Union when it comes to the relationship with third countries. It is only together with all EU member states that we can protect our values and identities. The EU only counts for 500 million citizens compared to 7.35 billion worldwide, growing to some ten billion by the year 2050. However, as stated above we – meaning EU and national social partners, EU and national policy makers, EU and national media and civil society – can improve the way we communicate these economic and social rationalities.
CEEP is fully ready to further act as an intermediator/ translator between the EU and its citizens. It is not only a scientific finding of CEEP members that people tend to trust their national, regional and local public services and SGIs the most. This was also for example revealed by a Eurobarometer Report of February 2009 concerning “The role and the impact of local authorities on the European Union”. People tend to have more trust in the local level due to its proximity to the people. We can build upon this to positively communicate about the EU and bring back hope, a feeling of protection and perspectives, finally regaining trust in the ability of politics to meet the above-mentioned challenges.
OUR CONCRETE PROPOSALS
As stated above CEEP is convinced that it is necessary to identify actions for implementation at EU member state level.
Decisive measures are necessary to reinforce Europe’s competitiveness in order to support higher levels of productivity, employment and prosperity. The EU is suffering today from a low comparative productivity and misallocation of investment, alongside many structural weaknesses. This explains why the global crisis hit Europe so hard, and why EU-wide recovery still presents such a challenge.
The effects of the crisis have exacerbated structural weaknesses and contributed to a legacy of economic and policy challenges that now need to be addressed.
Today, deeper European market integration, further cohesion and convergence, strengthening and developing markets and stepping up efforts to make Europe stronger and more competitive are crucially needed. To make Europe more competitive and productive, CEEP’s members will modernise their services delivery by adapting to the digitalisation and adopting new technologies, by promoting innovative economic models and particularly the circular economy and by contributing to modernising education systems to the new labour market challenges.
The EU manufacturing industry is lagging behind its world competitors – both in terms of innovations’ generation and in terms of marketing the innovative products. CEEP can help remedy this by contributing to the digitalization of public services and SGIs and to the circular economy, by modernizing health and social care (digitalization, new technologies, improved life expectancy), by intervening in education improvement, etc., including the energy, transportation and other elements, that can increase the EU competitiveness.
The lack of skilled labour force in the EU is not expected to improve in the future. Therefore, it is important to stress once more the potential of public services and SGIs in attracting people, especially the young, to public services and SGIs’ jobs. Public services and SGIs’ employers have to reskill and upskill their workforce as new demands constantly emerge in the labour market and new forms of jobs continue to develop. Transitions between education and jobs and from one job to another will be increasingly important. In that respect investments in human capital will play a major role and digital skills will be crucial to be able to adapt to the changing demands on the labour market. The digital transformation has been producing fundamental changes to the EU labour market, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. It is critical to stay on the front line and at the same time ensure the fairness of the transformation.
There is a striking need for the EU social and economic model to be strengthened in these turbulent times as illustrated by the every-day strikes and demonstrations all over Europe. The public services and SGIs have a lot to offer in this regard, because of their important potential to improve the living standards and to boost regional development. Many regions in Europe have fallen behind and are now failing to attract investment and economic activity, due to a lack of public services and SGIs’ infrastructures, skills and connectivity, this ends up creating a spiral of diminishing potential at national, regional and local level. To break this vicious cycle: we need to foster European regions’ attractiveness, by supporting their ability to develop quality public services and SGIs such as health, security, education, innovation. A renewed priority for inclusion and productivity is therefore key to improving living standards and supporting regional developments.
Furthermore, the projects that originate from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) could also be used to better emphasize the added value of the EU. Billions of Euros are mobilized in order to invest in critical infrastructure, education, research and innovation but it is too seldom spoken about. We did of course take notice of the roadshow of Commissioner Jyrki Katainen on the EFSI in 2015, however, as stated above, the EU-Institutions cannot be everywhere. Banks and local politicians could be mobilized to become more active in reporting about these important projects vis-á-vis their citizens/ customers. Here the target group should be the younger/ middle-aged generation of politicians and entrepreneurs. They mainly grew up with an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Europe. It is the generation that benefited the most from the EU although seldom speaks about its successes. Many EU achievements are taken for granted nowadays by a huge majority of people. In CEEP’s point of view we need to make clear that nothing can be taken for granted if all stakeholders are not get engaged in securing these achievements.
On top of fostering the use of EFSI 2.0 through the completion of its third pillar, the White Paper should also be the opportunity to re-think some EU rules, both in the context of completing the EMU and of reviewing existing fiscal rules, including the Stability and Growth Pact. A non-dogmatic approach and open analysis of those rules is what citizens ask for as opposed to the defence of the status quo at any price. Indeed, we have several recent examples, the Brexit vote and the recent Presidential Election in the US being the most significant ones, demonstrating to at least some extent, a growing “anti-establishment” belief/movement. If the reflection on the Future of Europe does not recognise and respond to this then we (European and national institutions, European and national social partners) could be accused of simply trying to protect the “status quo” and blame recent events upon the uneducated and ill-informed. To do so would be doing a great disservice to many of our citizens.
The EU already has a certain number of good initiatives that could be used to this end, by slightly adapting them, such as for example the Covenant of Mayors, the European Week of Waste Reduction, the European week of Sports, the European Mobility week, etc. Instead of “just” collecting waste, the European Week of Waste Reduction could for example be used to organise discussion rounds at national, regional and local level in order to discuss the added value of European Environmental legislation as such. Same is true for the other aforementioned initiatives.
In addition to the already existing weeks, CEEP could very well imagine organising a European Week of Public Services. During this Week of Public Services, participants at national, regional and local level would discuss the added value of the internal market for the preservation and promotion of their values and identities. Ahead of the White Paper on the Future of the European Union to be published in the first quarter of the year 2017, it could be worthwhile to gather all decentral actions already put in place by the European Union and to analyse how they can better be made use of in order to communicate about the added value of the European Union for each and every citizen.
This brings us to another important lever, namely communication. One of the major problems is that the European Union does not have an own public voice. The abovementioned actions could for example be executed in close cooperation with national, regional and local media. Furthermore, especially after the Brexit referendum, a significant part of civil society in UK stood up in order to defend the idea of European integration. There are very useful campaigns – mostly run in digital media. The question is how the European Union but also national politics can better and earlier assist civil society to get engaged in such a positive communication before crises emerge. Here, again, CEEP and its members who are closest to the citizens are ready to further elaborate on this question.
That is why CEEP thinks that the EU needs a holistic communication strategy to be rolled out at national, regional and local level. This does not mean that we need a new EU communication body. We think the solution can be achieved through a decentralised implementation. Furthermore, holistic does mean to only concentrate on “hard facts” like economic and social data. The recent political discussions, whether at international, EU or national level showed that people need to be emotionally touched. Public services are an example of such an “emotional good” that 500 million Europeans rely on in their everyday life, that are tangible for them and public services and SGIs’ providers are an important intermediator between the EU and the citizens.
Therefore, CEEP is fully ready to accompany the abovementioned actions together with its European and national partners and stands ready for further exchange on the topic.
The success of the White Paper on the Future of the EU indeed widely depends, in our view, on how much the EU institutions will include key players in its shaping. In this regard, we think that EU social partners and their national members can make a real difference in guaranteeing the final legitimacy of the instrument and that is why we call on the EU institutions to closely involve us into the future steps of this project.
 Monti, Mario: A new Strategy for the Single Market – At the service of Europe’s Economy and Society, 9. May 2010.
 Cp. ibid., p. 20.
 Eurobarometer: Special Eurobarometer 307: The role and impact of local and regional authorities within the European Union, February 2009.
 This practice already exists, for instance, in Germany and Italy when it comes to utilities, in the Netherlands when it comes to education and healthcare, in the UK when it comes to healthcare etc.…
CEEP Opinion on the European Pillar of Social Rights - PDF.
The Public Services’ Employers’ Forum also signed a joint statement on the proposed EU Pillar of Social Rights. You can read it here.
- CEEP welcomes the new initiative of the European Commission to streamline the Social dimension of the EMU. The future instruments should address the urgent need to level the playing field all around Europe with the objective of fostering a society that is both economically performant and inclusive.
- We welcome the clear recognition of key services of general interest (SGIs) as essential elements to overcome the crisis and to move towards a deeper and fairer Economic and Monetary Union.
- The Pillar should be a general strategic document which is not legally binding but states different objectives that the member states, regional and local authorities, social partners and citizens should/will be committed to. A proper way forward would be for the Principles of the Pillar to be implemented via the European Semester and to serve as guidance during the drafting of the country reports and Country Specific Recommendations.
- The way forward is not necessarily for the Pillar to produce new EU Social legislation but to make sure that the existing one is still fit for purpose. The EU Social Acquis already encompasses 70 directives providing workers with protection and rights including: information and consultation of workers, awareness of conditions of employment, equal treatment, health and safety. Hence the problem is not quantity but quality.
- The way forward will be for the Pillar to provide an opportunity to foster a better understanding of the differences between the national industrial relations systems and to define possible common reference principles to foster convergence. CEEP calls for the definition of common benchmarks which would promote and develop quality, accessible and affordable public services in the context of national structural reforms.
- Respecting the principle of subsidiarity will be key for the success and widespread acceptance of the European Pillar of Social Rights. As a unique model that would work for every country does not exist, only member states can anticipate the implications of policy initiatives at national, regional and local level.
- The competences in the social area lie mainly with the member states e.g. wage formation is the exclusive competence of the member states and/or social partners, which is why they should always be the entity deciding upon which policy measures to implement to achieve the goals in the pillar.
- The role of the social partners will be equally critical and should therefore be integrated in the pillar in a transversal way, making it clear that social policies cannot achieve their goals and deliver sustainable effects if social partners are not fully involved in their shaping and implementation.
CEEP Opinion on the EU State Aid Modernisation Agenda - PDF
- European state aid rules are of great relevance for the quality and affordability of Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) in Europe. In particular they can be a significant source of administrative burden and legal uncertainty for public authorities in their task of fulfilling missions of general interest.
- Building on the State Aid Modernisation Agenda, CEEP encourages the European Commission to pursue its efforts towards more administrative simplification, including through a comprehensive assessment and review of the Almunia package as called for by the Committee of the Regions1.
- CEEP took note of the Notice on the Notion of State Aid. Clarifications over the European Commission’s line on local services and financing of infrastructure are particularly relevant for public services’ providers. However, CEEP is generally concerned that the exercise in itself contains a risk of a biased approach and may add rigidity in the Commission’s approach.
- The existing State Aid Framework Rules for Services of General Economic Interest (so-called ‘Almunia package’) plays a fundamental role in the provision of public services. The European Commission should seize the evaluation of the Almunia package by the 31th of January 2017 as an opportunity to enhance and further simplify existing rules.
- Next to specific state aid rules for SGEIs, the GBER is certainly the second most important state aid framework for SGEIs’ providers. CEEP welcomes the on-going initiative to broaden its scope and calls on the Commission to pursue this exercise.
- Regarding sectoral state aid guidelines, CEEP would especially like to stress the need to make EU state aid broadband guidelines fit for purpose to support achieving EU broadband development targets, as recommended by the REFIT Platform.