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During the meeting of the Sustainability Board on 8 May 2019, CEEP members have adopted a statement “A Sustainable Climate Strategy for Europe: Acting Now! – Statement on Climate “For Sibiu and Beyond”“.

Our key messages are the following:

  • Global warming is a major risk and climate policies must be developed as part of a sustainable approach.
  • A prerequisite for success is the social acceptability of these policies, which requires greater equity and democracy, particularly at the local level.
  • CEEP members manage essential infrastructure and provide SGIs that contribute to well-being and competitiveness; their proximity to economic actors makes them key players in climate policies.
  • The EU Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 needs to recognise that role and put “enablers” of sustainable climate policies at its centre.

On 8 May, ahead of the Sibiu Summit, CEEP presented its contribution to the EU Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, to be adopted during the June Council meeting. Our input, prepared on the basis of the CEEP Key Priorities 2019-2024, relies on 4 pillars:

  • A Europe of values and freedoms,
  • A fair digital transformation,
  • A sustainable and inclusive climate strategy,
  • A Europe which leads by example.

You can find our contribution here.

On 8 May 2019, the EU Social Partners (CEEP, ETUC, BusinessEurope and SMEunited) have presented a joint statement on the Rule of Law. You can find it below and here (in PDF).

On 3 April 2019, the European Commission launched its Communication on “Further strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union. State of Play and possible next steps” (COM (2019) 163 final). It thereby invited the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council and the public at large to reflect on how strengthening the enforcement of the rule of law can make an essential contribution to the future of the European Union.

The European Social Partners fully agree that our democracies must be safeguarded and call on EU leaders to include the upholding of the rule of law in the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024. They also stress their full commitment to supporting the rule of law as one of the foundations on which the European project and the democratic values it stands for are built.

The Rule of Law is essential for the proper functioning of the European Union, its institutions, its Single Market, labour market and society. It is an important guarantee for European citizens, employers and workers. The attractiveness of Europe as one of the best places to live, work and do business is highly dependent on a coherent and reliable application and enforcement of our common set of rules and values.

Member States joined the Union sharing the same commitment to the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and for the rule of law. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail. A sustainable Europe must improve the means of all public powers for reporting, monitoring and being accountable. This is necessary to win people’s support.

The rule of law also requires effective, independent and impartial institutions (e.g. courts, inspection services and bodies) and mechanisms of redress so that these rights are justiciable and their legal protection can be ensured. The longstanding role of social partners in setting, applying and enforcing these rights, particularly through social dialogue and collective bargaining, should be fully recognised.

The European Social Partners therefore fully agree that the rule of law must be respected, better explained, promoted and applied across Europe. We remain fully committed to defending our common European rules and values and to speaking up for their protection across the continent through an enhanced dialogue with social partners and civil society at large.

We are willing to participate in appropriate social partners’ consultations regarding the Communication and to support the European institutions in their efforts to strengthen the rule of law across Europe.

On the 10 and 11 of April 2019, in Bucharest, CEEP and the EU cross-industry social partners exchanged views with EU Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs during the informal EPSCO meeting. The ministers’ meeting was focused on the instruments and solutions found by Member States to ensure gender equality in the European Union.

Highlighting the challenges and priorities for providers of public services and services of general interest, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti said:

“There is a strong economic case for supporting women’s careers in the labour market. Today, the skills and competences that women acquire through education are not sufficiently used and risk becoming a waste of resources for the EU as a whole.”

“CEEP is particularly concerned by sectoral segregation of the labour market. We know this situation particularly vividly in several public services sectors, in healthcare and education where women are overrepresented and transport where we face the opposite trend. Actions should be taken to address stereotype gender norms in education and career choices.”

“We need to provide concrete instruments for allowing work-life balance. Member States need to invest into social infrastructures and formal care services. The examples from Ireland or Portugal go into the right direction. In parallel, Social Partners must use the full potential of collective bargaining to design innovative flexible working arrangements. Indeed, leave arrangements are not the panacea for better labour market participation of women.”

“Finally, the use of non-legislative measures such as Gender Budgeting can be increased. Fiscal policies and administrative procedures can be structured to address gender inequalities. This will promote accountability and transparency in fiscal planning, increase gender responsive participation in budget process and advance gender equality.”

At the high-level conference ‘The Future of Work: Today. Tomorrow. For All.’ today [9 April 2019], Milena Angelova, CEEP Vice-President, and Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, highlighted the key challenges faced and solutions found by employers and providers of public services and services of general interest. A special focus was put by CEEP speakers on the need to anticipate change to bring answers, for workers and citizens.

Milena Angelova, CEEP Vice-President, said:

“Labour shortage and skills mismatches are the most serious problem that the EU employers and public services providers face nowadays, causing a loss of 2% of EU GDP and impeding the creation of sustainable jobs. This, combined with demographic ageing and brain drain, produces worrying divergences between Member States.”

 “We need a reform of education systems, driven by a genuine paradigm shift in the goals and functioning of the education sector. (…) Reliable anticipation of the supply and demand of skills and of the future structure of the EU labour market are key, together with making vocational education and training a first-class option for learners and fostering permeability between VET and higher education. It means also an increased demand for STEM, digital and soft skills, and great needs for the upskilling and reskilling of employees.”

In the concluding plenary panel, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

“The question of coping with demographic ageing, digitalisation and decarbonisation and their consequences in enterprises all over Europe will be our top priorities. Today confirmed that they concern everyone equally. For CEEP members, something that resonates particularly vividly is the necessity to create a labour market that is able to anticipate change.”

“A key message of CEEP today is that Europe needs to build multi-stakeholder approaches linking together enterprises, education and training providers, social services, local and regional government and social partner organisations. With mutual trust, respect and joint actions we will successfully cope with the transformations, leaving no one behind.”

Today [5 April 2019], in Bucharest, CEEP and the EU cross-industry social partners exchanged views with EU Ministers of Economic and Financial Affairs during the informal ECOFIN meeting.
Highlighting the challenges and priorities for providers of public services and services of general interest, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti said:

“CEEP would like to thank Minister Teodorovici and the Romanian presidency for having answered to a long-standing call by the Social Partners to be invited to informal ECOFIN meetings. As social partners, we are at the center of shaping economic and social policies and facilitating reforms; that is why we believe we can bring real added value, and call on the future Presidencies to follow this example.”

“CEEP welcomes the agreement reached at technical level on the future Capital Markets Union, which bears great potential in granting better access to public markets for SMEs. We believe that more should be done to help Member States achieve more competitiveness and convergence through the coverage of the costs of some relevant structural reforms and investments.”

“We are strongly concerned by the existing divergences between Member States, which are particularly noticeable following the enlargements of 2004, 2007 and 2013. CEEP remains a strong supporter of well-designed stimulus programmes and quality-targeted investments.
We believe they are a key ingredient in ensuring social and territorial cohesion in Europe. More should now be done to ensure that structural funds become more flexible and effective to counter the worrying trend of widening regional disparities.”

In the presence of Viorica Dăncilă, Prime Minister of Romania, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, CEEP Vice-President Milena Angelova addressed the Tripartite Social Summit today.
Highlighting the challenges and priorities for employers of public services and services of general interest, she said:

”The European social model is the biggest asset of the EU. It should be maintained in a sustainable manner through cultivating an innovative and competitive European economy, together with guaranteeing high-quality, affordable and accessible public services. This can only be achieved through investments in essential services.”

 “It is important to stick to our joint commitment on the European economic governance, balancing structural reforms, fiscal stability and investment. The priority should now lie more specifically in well-targeted investments in physical and social infrastructures and in intangible assets, such as skills and competences, to foster productivity growth.”

 “Finding a workforce with the appropriate skills remains a pressing challenge for many employers of public services. To tackle this, reliable anticipations of the skills supply and demand and of the EU labour market’s future structure are key, together with making VET a first-class option for learners and fostering permeability between VET and higher education. It means also an increased demand for STEM, digital and soft skills, and great needs for the upskilling and reskilling of employees.”

Ms Angelova concluded on the importance of social dialogue in this context: “We will need stronger social dialogue and social partners to anticipate these challenges through cooperation and negotiations. We have committed to doing so at European level in our new Work programme 2019-2021, and many of our members are already actively working in this direction.”

The European Union has given long-lasting peace across our continent and has brought European people together around the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, freedom and equality.

Democracy needs to be lived in order to remain alive. We therefore urge citizens across Europe to go out and vote in the European elections from 23-26 May 2019 in order to have a say on the future and to defend democracy, sustainable economic growth and social justice.

The EU has been instrumental in making the European way of life what it is today. It has brought unprecedented economic and social progress and continues to bring tangible benefits for citizens, workers and enterprises across Europe.

These are uncertain times for Europe and for the world. Whilst we are on a path towards recovery, the economic and social consequences of the crisis can still be felt by citizens, workers and enterprises. Some people question or even reject the European project. We are facing huge challenges – international tensions, re-defining the EU-UK relationship, migration, unemployment, prospects for our youth, the climate and digital transformation and in several countries, increasing economic and social inequalities. But the answer is not to pull up the drawbridge and retreat – we must stand up and take action in a united way.

The EU project has to remain resilient and strong and we, the European Social Partners, believe that it can continue to help us to face our challenges and design a brighter future for Europe, its citizens, workers and enterprises. Europe is still one of the best places in the world to live, work and do business. We have much to be proud of and to cherish and we should build on this, together.

In this spirit, we will continue to contribute to a successful European project and a united Europe that delivers for its workers and enterprises, focusing on initiatives that improve their everyday lives and offer a better future full of opportunities for all.

Today [11 March 2019], CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti addressed EU leaders at the Macro-economic Dialogue at Political level (MEDPOL), on ‘Inequality and Inclusive Growth. In presence of Mario Centeno, President of Eurogroup, Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission and Benoit Coeuré, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, Ms Ronzitti said:

”CEEP strongly believes that inequality hinders growth. Excessive and increasing inequality levels imply direct social costs, weaken incentives to invest in knowledge, prevent social mobility and may also inhibit sustainable and potential growth.”

 “There is also a strong political risk behind inequality as it undermines social confidence and reduces support for democratic institutions. Globalisation and Digitalisation will continue to have a tremendous impact on the citizens’ lives, and we must act to improve social inclusion and cohesion in Europe.”

“CEEP represents employers operating in sectors such as healthcare, education, housing, energy, transport, which are key in ensuring the social fabric of our territories and providing European citizens with the means to contribute to society.”

“We believe that part of the solution in tackling inequalities lies with targeted investment in physical and social infrastructures, high quality vocational education and training and stronger collective bargaining institutions.”

During the discussions, Valeria Ronzitti also supported the calls of the Romanian Presidency to propose a two-year up-front funding to overcome the technical and financial obstacles faced everyday by beneficiaries of EU funds. “It would propose a much-needed real simplification of the cohesion policy, and allow a prompt response to the challenges posed by the ongoing gaps and disparities at EU level,” said Ms Ronzitti. “It will also promote a more efficient use of the available financial resources, in favor of the beneficiaries.”

On Thursday 7 March 2019, CEEP held at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) its first event on the EU elections. Focused on the importance of participation and engagement, the event featured as speakers Luca Jahier, President of the EESC, MEP Karine Gloanec-Maurin, chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Public Services, MEP Jo Leinen, Honorary President of the European Movement International, Christian Mangold, Director for Campaigns at the European Parliament, Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of the European Movement International, and Tellervo Kyla-Harraka-Rounala, Vice-President of the EESC Employers’ group.

In his opening statement, Tom Beattie, CEEP Vice-President said:

“Ahead of the EU elections, the coming months will be very important for the EU and for CEEP. It will be a moment to make sure CEEP is seen and heard in the debate, and that candidates for a mandate at the European Parliament get a clear understanding of the importance of Europe, of public services and of services of general interest for citizens.”

Closing the event, Milena Angelova, CEEP Vice-President, a

“Focusing primarily on the importance of participation and engagement, this event was successful in bringing around the same table a broad range of actors from different horizons, in order to share ideas and thoughts. With the EU elections now two and a half months ahead of us, many new eligible decision-makers will need to get familiar with the EU, and the functioning of the EU institutions. It really is a capital moment: the EU institutions are called to give a new breath to our European project, and CEEP intends to stay active on those issues.”

On this occasion, CEEP also joined forces with the European Parliament ahead of the elections. Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, commented:

“The European Parliament’s campaign ‘This Time I’m Voting’, the EMI’s Democracy Alive festival, the rEUnaissance high-level conference of the EESC: those are all initiatives CEEP is being involved in, aimed at carrying this pro-democracy message. Both in their constituencies and in Brussels, our members are calling for such platforms for open and frank discussions on Europe, and to have a say on the future of its institutions, placing SGIs and public services at the core of it.”

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