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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
  • 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.

Familly picture at the Tripartite Social Summit, with Katherina Reiche, CEEP President, and Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary (picture: © 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.

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