CEEP organised last Friday 19 October, together with UNISOC, the First Round Table Meeting in the framework of the European Commission’s co-financed project “Social Services in European cross-industry social dialogue: towards a strong and deeper involvement”. The aim of the meeting was to involve the relevant social services’ providers in Cyprus and Romania in the discussions on the role of social services in the European cross-industry social dialogue.

During the meeting, the objectives and the structure of the project were presented and a general introduction to CEEP and the European cross-industry social dialogue was given. UNISOC’s Director General, Mr Erik Van Laer, presented the structure of social services of general interest and the social profit sector in Belgium. The challenges faced by social services in Belgium were also discussed.

During the discussion, the participants exchanged views and practices regarding the difficulties in establishing social dialogue in the different countries. An important question that was raised as to whether it is possible to foster social dialogue and achieve recognition from the governments. The participants discussed not only the obstacles and challenges in doing this but also how their organisations managed to get recognised by their government.

The Draft Intermediate Report, which was presented by WMP expert Eckhard Voss, illustrated the role of public and private providers in the 6 examined countries. Despite the fact that there is a mixture of private and public providers, in these countries for-profit providers are on the rise and play an increasing role. The main challenges identified by the Report included the investment in social protection, education and healthcare; the quality and efficiency of healthcare and medical services; the fight against social exclusion; the understaffing and education and training.

Regarding the role of social dialogue in SSGI, it was demonstrated that there is a lack of employer organisations in SSGIs, that social enterprises do not play a significant role and that national governments are the main counterpart to trade unions when it comes to bargaining.

Ms Panayiota Trifilli from the Cypriot Minstry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, and Mr Alexandru Alexe from the Permanent Representation of Romania, provided an outlook into the social services in Cyprus and Romania respectively.

The Second Round Table Meeting will be held on 18 December in Vilnius and is organised by CEEP and ALAL (the Lithuanian Association of Local Authorities). The target countries for this meeting are Hungary and Lithuania. Should you wish to register, do not hesitate to contact CEEP Project Officer Carlotta Astori.

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