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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 Federal Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz with the main messages of providers and employers of public services and SGIs on current challenges.

Ms Reiche focused her speech on three messages:

On the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027: “In line with President Juncker’s call in the State of the Union, we urge the Council to reach – at the very least – an agreement in principle on the next Multiannual Financial Framework, ahead of the European elections next year. We call for a clear and predictable financial framework to plan necessary future investments.”

On Digitalisation, and the need for a level playing field: “The EU has to develop a clear and common strategy on how to create a level playing field in a very global and competitive environment and has to consult the social partners during that process. The right design of a European data economy will be the difference between a Europe that is a competitive digital powerhouse and a Europe that is reduced to a mere marketplace for the global players from Asia and America.”

On the Investment Needs in Europe: “Despite the Juncker plan there is still a sizeable investment gap. In fact, infrastructure investment activities have dropped over the last years and we are falling behind. For that reason, Europe requires a strong investment agenda: investments for all kinds of infrastructures must be reinforced, from essential services such as transport and energy to social services like health and to investments for the necessary digital transformation towards a 5G economy.”

CEEP also published today its Pulse of Public Services, highlighting the expectations of employers and providers of SGIs, as well as the main challenges they are facing.

Reacting to the final “State of the European Union” speech by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti commented:

”The President of the European Commission remained loyal to his style, restating and confirming his ambition to have a political role and to achieve tangible results. We agree that the priority should now be to complete the on-going legislative processes, such as the Energy Union and the climate policy, the Banking and the Capital Markets Union or the development of the Digital Single Market.”

“We call upon the European Commission to push for, at the very least, an agreement in principle between the EU institutions on the next Multiannual Financial Framework, ahead of the European elections in 2019. Employers and providers of public services and SGIs needs a clear and predictable financial framework to plan necessary future investments, both in physical infrastructures and human capital.”

“We also stand ready to support the Commission in promoting its communication on free and fair European elections. As providers of key essential services, our members are well-trusted by citizens, and we are ready to go beyond our “ordinary” mandate to strengthen democracy and reinforce the EU added-value.”

At the informal ESPCO in Vienna, Walter Marschitz, CEO of SWOE (Sozialwirtschaft Österreich) representing VÖEWG (Verband der öffentlichen Wirtschaft und Gemeinwirtschaft Österreichs), and Valeria Ronzitti, General Secretary of CEEP, addressed the challenges and opportunities of digitalized labour markets.

Identifying pressing challenges, CEEP highlighted:

On the digitalisation of public services: “Public services’ employers are also affected by new forms of work. Employee sharing, ICT-based mobile and voucher-based works are already employment forms in public services, whilst platform work and gig jobs are emerging.”

On the new forms of employer-employee relationships: “Questions on the status of workers and social protection are arising. We face today new determinants of subordination such as imposed rating systems, price setting competence or control mechanism. These elements should be used to establish the exact status of a platform worker.”

On the importance of subsidiarity: “Each Member State must define the employment relationship according to their specific legal contexts and to the different branches of law. Leaving the definitions for the EU-level would hamper the necessary flexibility to adapt to future developments of the labour market. It is for the social partners, in cooperation with Member States authorities, to foster this adaptation of national law to new circumstances.”

Focussing on solutions, CEEP presented to ministers some key elements to better define the employment relationship in a digitalised world:

  • Extending employee status to all platform workers and bogus self-employed;
  • Approximating the status of platforms to that of temporary work agencies;
  • Automatically extending collective agreements to wider categories of workers than “employee”, with a view to including platform workers;
  • Creating protective regulations on self-employment to protect workers.

Above all, social dialogue must remain the central element. Social partners’ activities on cross-sectoral and sectoral level need to be further promoted. Social partners are key in preparing the digital transformation of labour markets and should be further empowered at European, national, regional and local levels.

Joint Social Partners’ Final Report “Promoting social partnership in employee training”– PDF

Key summary

  • Rapid labour market changes such as the industry 4.0 revolution, digitalisation, social, demographic and environmental transitions and global challenges require joint actions on improving employee training. A skilled workforce is one of the main assets of the European social and economic model and this should be further developed to cope with the challenges posed by the future of work. Education, training and lifelong learning was reaffirmed as a priority by European heads of state and government while proclaiming the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017. Support for training to adults provides benefits for workers, employers and the whole of society.
  • There are many different national laws, rules and approaches to the organisation and provision of employee training. Some countries have wide-ranging and strong vocational training policies set in legislation, while in others training provisions are set by collective agreements, at various levels, or agreed directly between employers and employees in the workplace. Opportunities to access training can also be dependent on the size of the company/workplace. Access to effective employee training should be facilitated while respecting the diversity and flexibility of systems, which vary according to diverse industrial relations practices.
  • Financing levels and mechanisms of employee training vary significantly across Europe. This reflects the different levels of economic development in the Member States, but also different choices and responsibilities of the actors. Whatever the financing model, an important success factor is the involvement of social partners and the cooperative attitude between them when it comes to the management of funding, time and human resources. Improvements to national education and training systems could be further fostered through targeted financial support to Member States as part of the European semester process.
  • Employee training can contribute towards creating a good working environment, which ensures employees’ well-being in their work, motivates them, and enables them to progress in their career and earnings. In turn, employers benefit from the enhanced motivation and productivity of their workforce and overall businesses performance. This means that there is a shared interest and a shared responsibility of employers and employees to contribute to upskilling and reskilling, leading to successful enterprises and an appropriately skilled
    workforce.
  • Because they take an active role and have direct knowledge and experience of both labour and training markets, social partners are well placed to foster a diversified offer of training options in the search for the best possible fit with employers’ and workers’ needs on the labour market.
  • Social dialogue and collective agreements, in particular at the sectoral level, play an important role in the governance of training systems and in creating training opportunities and improving the relevance and provision of employee training. This includes social partners working together to foster transition and career paths between sectors. The establishment of training funds has occurred in several Member States and can play an important role.
  • Paid time off for work-relevant training and a right to training are established practices in some Member States. In such cases, social partners play a role in facilitating employees’ effective access to training. This could provide inspiration for other countries, depending on the national context. Employee training should be of high quality, effective and equally relevant for the worker and the employer. It should respond to the need for improving professional, soft and transversal skills and contribute to workplace and industry-related career development. Employee training offers should also respond to new and emerging developments in labour markets and enterprises. These offers should be tailor-made, innovative in terms of new training methods, take into account work organisation and be delivered online, where appropriate, and in a work-based environment. In addition, it should be accessible and benefit from pooling/mutualised resources within and between sectors.
  • Training provisions must be designed in a way that fosters and supports mobility between and within sectors. Securing these transitions benefits workers’ employability and employers’ capacity to attract new recruits.
  • The changes and transitions in the labour market require effective upskilling and reskilling, according to identified needs, and defined by labour market intelligence tools and social partner involvement at all appropriate levels, so as to respond to the existing and future skills demand identified by employers and trade unions across sectors and occupations. A good match between the training offer and enterprises’ need for an increasingly skilled workforce is a key condition for employers to offer training and for workers to access training and remain in quality employment while continued digitalisation, automation, and artificial intelligence changes their everyday work.
  • Employee training should be seen as an overall approach within which there may be a need for a targeted approach to specific groups. In such cases, and as part of the wider approach to active labour market policies, Member States should provide effective and systematic support including financial resources for training that supports the integration of the low-skilled, unemployed and socio-economically disadvantaged groups in the labour market, in particular migrants and refugees, via employee training and adult apprenticeships. The training needs of older workers and of NEETs in particular should also be taken into account. As part of this, Member States should ensure the implementation of the upskilling pathways Council recommendation with the effective involvement of social partners, as applicable.
  • Training schemes, developed with the involvement of the social partners, should aim to decrease the gender gap in certain professions, support women’s career development, and to ensure that they can also reach high-level and managerial positions where they are disproportionally under-represented. It is also important to encourage more women to study STEM subjects.

On the 1st June, CEEP held its statutory meetings, with members of the Administration Council, General Assembly, as well as the chairs and vice-chairs of boards and task forces gathered to discuss the main orientations for the association.

On this occasion, the General Assembly unanimously re-elected Valeria Ronzitti as General Secretary for a 3-year mandate (2018-2021).

CEEP Activity Report 2017 was presented on the 1st June to the members of the General Assembly, the Administration Council and CEEP Members during our statutory meetings. You consult it here.

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.”

Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, and Thierry Durnerin, chair of CEEP Public Services Board, signing the #CohesionAlliance (© European Union / Giedre Daugelaite)

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.

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