The European Commission has unveiled today its proposal for the upcoming EU Multiannual Financial Framework. Commenting on the proposal, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:
“The European Commission proposed today a pragmatic approach on the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027. It was important to immediately show a way forward focusing on key political priorities, in order to make it possible and realistic for the MFF to be approved before the European elections in May 2019.”
“Reinforcing the Economic and Monetary Union is a key priority of the upcoming funding period. Therefore, we welcome the inclusion in the proposal of the new European Investment Stabilisation Function which should protect key investment for the future. The future Reform Support Programme should also bring a clear added value, helping Member States in developing and implementing balanced economic and social reforms.”
“However, we are concerned about the proposed cuts to Cohesion Policy. While modernisation and conditionalities should help to increase the value for money, we believe this effort could be made without cuts. We count on the Council and the European Parliament to bring back growth and competitiveness in Europe by promoting a “smart” approach to Cohesion Policy. This would clearly show citizens that Europe is there for them.”
CEEP will further analyse the proposal tabled by the European Commission ahead of the sector-specific proposals. The Commission should pay particular attention to the crucial needs in terms of investments in social and physical infrastructures with a clear EU added value.
Above all, and as stated in the March 2018 Social Partners’ joint statement, we support the Commission when it calls on the Council and the European Parliament to swiftly reach an agreement to ensure political continuity for EU priorities.
Following the presentation of the European Commission’s Data Package 2018 [on 25 April], CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti commented on the proposal for a Review of the Directive on the Reuse of Public Sector Information (PSI):
“CEEP supports the European Commission’s overall objective to set a European regulatory framework that fosters the development of the European data economy. We however have reservations on the proposal for a revision of the PSI Directive as it leads to legal uncertainty regarding ongoing innovation and investments by public services’ enterprises.
The Commission’s proposals to differentiate between, on the one hand, data hold by public undertakings and, on the other hand, government data or content owned by cultural institutes, go in the right direction. Indeed, they are not the same as public undertakings’ dynamic services requiring constant reinvestment and adaptation to a competitive market.
Nevertheless, the proposed revision widens the scope of the original PSI Directive to public undertakings in new sectors such as water, energy, transport and postal services. This creates an important distortion of competition between public undertakings and private companies which are not included in its scope but operate on the same markets.
As the companies which mostly benefit from open datasets are large platforms that want to compete with European local, regional and national public services’ enterprises, it is essential to create a level-playing field also in this regard to protect the rights and the existing high-quality of the services provided by public undertakings.
Public services’ enterprises must deliver their services in a cost-efficient way. As such, they should in no way be forced to give out value for free or at marginal costs to other enterprises. We fear that the EC proposal about future delegated acts could force public undertakings to make high-value datasets available for free. This would hinder ongoing innovation in public services’ enterprises by creating legal uncertainty and making investments in own data sets and existing cooperation with start-ups unstable and risky.”
CEEP has joined the #CohesionAlliance, which was launched in 2017 by the European Committee of the Regions together with leading European associations of regions and cities. During the meeting of CEEP Public Services Board, Thierry Durnerin, chair of the Board, signed the declaration on behalf of CEEP in presence of Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions.
Thierry Durnerin, chair of CEEP Public Services Board, said:
“For European providers of public services and services of general interest, it is crucial to highlight the importance of the cohesion policy. The views and missions of CEEP and its members are fully aligned with the principles stated in the #CohesionAlliance: developing and promoting a long-term vision for investment, overcoming the economic and social divides, improving the articulation of European, regional and local decision-making levels and calling for simplifying and improving the implementation of the EU funds.
Joining the #CohesionAlliance is for us an important statement, making clear our commitment to maintaining a strong cohesion policy in Europe and confirming the key role public services and services of general interest are playing, and should keep playing, in this policy.”
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, president of the European Committee of the Regions, commented:
“Whether it be transport, housing or waste management, public services and services of general interest are delivered locally improving the quality of life. EU cohesion funds support local and regional authorities in providing services for their communities. This is why I’m delighted that CEEP has joined the #CohesionAlliance. It is a sign that EU funds are making a difference and must continue to benefit every region and every city if we are to have a stronger European future.”
The #CohesionAlliance is a coalition of those who believe that EU cohesion policy must continue to be a pillar of the EU’s future. The Alliance was created through cooperation between the leading European associations of cities and regions and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). It demands that the EU budget after 2020 makes cohesion policy stronger, more effective, visible and available for every region in the European Union.
At the Tripartite Social Summit, CEEP President Katherina Reiche addressed the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov with the main messages of providers and employers of public services and SGIs on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Ms Reiche focused her speech on three key messages:
The central role of public services:
“We, as providers of public services, are ready to deliver. Contributing to more than a quarter of the EU GDP and employing more than 30 per cent of the total workforce, public services have a lot to offer. We have important potential to sustainably improve living standards and boost regional development, all over Europe.”
The need to invest in infrastructures to connect Europe and its citizens:
“As part of the next MFF, we must support physical and social infrastructures to create a strong basis of modernised and high-performing public services, boosting our economy and reconnecting citizens and enterprises with the European project. To ensure social and territorial cohesion in this process we must particularly focus on rural and removed areas. Only then, people all over Europe will be connected.”
The importance of Social Dialogue in times of change:
“For the implementation of the Pillar of Social Rights, we also need a strong social dialogue. Employability through life-long learning and adapting the skills agenda to the digitalisation are already crucial issues and will certainly remain so in the future. However, there is no “one size fits all”-approach considering the very different social models in Member States.”
EU cross-industry Social Partners also presented a joint statement, urging a swift adoption of the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework ahead of the European elections.
On the occasion of the Tripartite Social Summit, the EU cross-industry Social Partners – CEEP, ETUC, BusinessEurope, UEAPME – presented a joint statement, urging a swift adoption of the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework ahead of the European elections.
European Social Partners Statement on the Multiannual Financial Framework
The European Social Partners are deeply concerned about a potential delay in the adoption of the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework for political reasons.
European citizens, workers and enterprises will face deep transformations due to important changes within the European Union borders such as demographic ageing or digitalization of our societies. Beyond these, the EU will also face important external challenges, including maintaining the EU prominent economic position in the world in response to the United States’ aggressive Trade Policy and the rapid rise of emerging economies. Losing time in the adoption of the MFF, a crucial tool to mobilise highly necessary investments in Europe, would be irresponsible under the current circumstances.
The European Social Partners therefore strongly urge all relevant decision-makers to make sure that the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework will be put in place before the European elections.
Furthermore, social partners emphasise the need to focus the MFF on growth and employment enhancing expenditures and to fully preserve the involvement of social partners in the governance of relevant funds such as the European Social Fund.
CEEP presented today its Spring 2018 edition of the Pulse of Public Services. You can consult the full paper here.
SUMMARY & KEY FINDINGS
A positive perception of the economic situation:
- A majority of employers of public services and SGIs feel the benefits of the economic recovery, with 57% of respondents reporting a positive perception of the economic situation.
- 60% of respondents report positive expectations for the next 12 months for their organisations and enterprises.
- 91% of respondents expect a stable or increasing revenue in the coming year, and 85% of respondents are expecting employment in the organisations and enterprises to stay at a similar level or to increase.
The key challenges for employers of public services and SGIs:
- Legislative burden: Administrative and regulatory measures have been and remain a key challenge for employers and providers of public services and SGIs, complexifying operations and hindering the capacity of organisations to invest.
- Pursuit of greater efficiency and new tasks to perform: 44% of respondents identify this issue amongst the 3 most important for them, highlighting the constant interest for managers of public services to be on the lookout for alternatives, and adapting their services and operations to ensure the provision of future-proof services to all.
- Finding workforce with appropriate skills: Despite the return to economic growth, employers of public services and SGIs still face difficulties in recruiting workers with the right skills. This undermines further economic prospects in the medium-term, as 39% of respondents report it as one of their 3 main challenges.
- Budget constraints: 33% of respondents reported “budget cuts” as a main concern, leading to reduced opportunities of investment, whilst 14% directly reported the reduction of possibilities of investments as another challenge. Three main factors were reported for these limitations of investment: Lack of financial capacities (by 29% of respondents reporting it amongst their top 3 factors); Lack of political will (27%) and regulatory measures (19%).
As a part of the Social Fairness Package, the European Commission adopted yesterday their legislative proposal for setting up the European Labour Authority (ELA). Following the presentation, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti commented:
“As representatives of public services and SGI employers, CEEP welcomes the ambition of the European Commission to increase the quality of information available for employers and workers on applicable labour rules. The proposed ELA, if properly set up and managed, has the potential to empower fair European labour mobility, and help making it a reality for more EU citizens. It should also contribute to more concerted and better cooperation between labour inspectorates, especially across the borders.””
“For those positive results to be achieved, we believe that a very special attention should be given to respecting national social partners’ roles and responsibilities. It is particularly the case in Member States where social partners have competences and a role in supervising the functioning of labour markets. We therefore look forward to playing an active role in the European Advisory Group to advise and assist on the functioning of the ELA.”
On the second building block of the Social Fairness Package, the European Commission brought forward a proposal on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. Valeria Ronzitti commented:
“CEEP members see ensuring a high level of social protection and addressing persisting social inequalities in Member States as a core objective of the EU and central element of its cohesion. Social protection facilitates adaptation to changes in the labour market, tackles poverty and social exclusion, secures labour market integration and allows for investment in human resources.”
“Each Member State has developed over the years different labour market and social models: coordination processes and mutual learning should be highlighted and remain key elements. As proposed, a Council Recommendation should offer sufficient margins of manoeuvre to Member States and would help steer further actions within the European Semester in a similar direction. Convergence, via the European Semester and the Open Method of Coordination, should be the right way forward.”
On 19 February, Valeria Ronzitti (CEEP General Secretary) and Tor Hattlevol (chair of CEEP Macro-Economic Task Force) addressed the European Commission, the Eurogroup and the Bulgarian Presidency at the Macro-Economic Dialogue.
Highlighting the core priorities of employers of public services and services of general interest, Ms Ronzitti said:
On completing the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU):
“All cards are now in the hands of Members States to make real progress on the EMU architecture. The Banking Union must be swiftly completed to deliver its full potential in making the EMU more stable and resilient to shocks, while limiting the need for public risk sharing. Of equal importance is the investment protection scheme, as it is the quickest way forward to implement a stabilisation function for the Eurozone.”
On promoting investment in social infrastructures:
“CEEP has long advocated for investment in human capital as a catalyst towards upward convergence, resilience and competitiveness. Better policies in areas of education, lifelong learning, health, long-term care and social infrastructure will reduce long-term unemployment, boost productivity and lead to greater resilience, convergence and growth.
The EU should lead the way in developing new investment models and partnerships. CEEP calls EU institutions to take on board the recommendations from the report “Boosting Investment in Social Infrastructure in Europe” and its concrete proposals, ranging from establishing a specific policy window for social investments in the next MFF to boosting the use of strategic public procurement schemes. Those are all ways to reconcile the need for sustainable public finances with the imperative of ensuring long-term growth.”