The dramatic events of the past few days, in Berlin, Ankara and Zurich, remind us daily of the present climate of insecurity. In this context, public services play an important societal role as a shelter, able to provide security to citizens, while re-defining the concept of security adapting it to the current geopolitical context. They perform this role despite budgetary restrictions and the weak recovery that still characterizes the EU economy.
In this context, we need to engage into a reflection on how we can value public services and services of general interest. How can we provide the best services in this new context? This reflection began earlier this month, at the meeting of the Intergroup of the European Parliament on Public Services with Mr Tsakalotos, Greek Minister of Finance. On that occasion, the need to give new value to public services’ providers was highlighted, especially in three key areas: the fight against climate change, the integration and management of the direct impact of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and the emergence of new cross-sectoral platforms. CEEP intends to push the work forward, and engage in an in-depth analysis of SGI in 2017, as well as of how SGI can be “future-proofed”.
2016 was also a pivotal year for the EU. Brexit, and more broadly the rise of political Euroscepticism, called for reactions to preserve and protect the European project. CEEP intends to contribute to this debate, instigated by the EU institutions. During CEEP December statutory meetings, the contribution of public services’ providers and employers to the upcoming White Paper on the Future of the EU has been approved. You can find it here. Also of key importance to CEEP members is the European Commission’s proposal for a Pillar of Social Rights. Since the launch of the public consultation in March, CEEP Social Affairs Board has been relentlessly defining the stance of the organization on this issue, through its involvement in the consultations at national and EU level and the CEEP Opinion on the issue.
Besides those two keys issues, CEEP is committed to playing an active role in accompanying providers of public services and SGIs in the digital transformation. Over the past 12 months, the Digitalisation Working Group has been gathering on a regular basis specialists amongst our members, providing a platform to reflect on the digitalization of public services. It resulted in the drafting of a CEEP Opinion “Harnessing the Digital Transformation of Public Services”, the edition of a booklet “Public Services as Driver of the Digital Transformation – Compendium of Practices” and the organization of a high-level conference, jointly with EUROCHAMBRES and featuring Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market.
Those issues, alongside broader priorities for the organization, such as the reinforcement of the Public Services’ Employers’ Forum or the call for recognizing the key role of public services in the integration of refugees in the European society, will be our guiding lights for 2017.
In the meantime, I wish you all seasons’ greetings on behalf of the CEEP Team, and look forward to building together a brighter future for the European project in 2017.