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.