Addressing the Macroeconomic Dialogue earlier today, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, stated the following on the compromise on Greece:

 ”It is not for CEEP to take a stand on the Euro Summit Statement of today. We can only welcome that it is based on unanimity, as this is an important basis for the further work lying ahead of the Eurogroup.
When it comes to content, we acknowledge that a great number of reforms mentioned in this last statement as well as in previous negotiating proposals concern key public services, whether public administrations or Services of General Economic Interest. In this respect, CEEP offers the experience and knowledge of its members, which are core providers of those services all over Europe. Many of them have, are, or will undergo major changes, and that is why we are constantly engaged in a process of benchmarking and sharing of best practices to support public services providers in their restructuring and change processes. We feel the duty to do the same in the Greek context, as the responsibility of increasing effectiveness and efficiency of public services lies primarily on public services providers. Reforming Greek public services, in order to make them capable of answering to the Greek people’s needs in a responsible way: We believe that it is part of the solution, and CEEP stands ready to provide its support.”

Following the vote of the European Parliament on the recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

“The European Parliament has sent an important message ahead of the 10th negotiation round: TTIP will be acceptable only if it does not threaten the way public services are provided, regardless of how they are funded and organised.

However, having a hybrid approach, instead of a positive list will make the safeguard of public services more challenging. Therefore, a clear and comprehensive list of reservations now needs to be set up.

Finally, we regret that the wording on the importance of compliance with the new public procurement package has been undermined. The opening of the public procurement markets should not go beyond the current EU regime and should not restrict the freedom of public authorities in organising the provision of public services.”

At the very time when the European Union is at a crossroads, CEEP wants to restate its full commitment to the European project and commit to “doing its share” within the limit of its competences, declared today Hans-Joachim Reck and Valeria Ronzitti, commenting the Council Conclusions and the press conference of Jean-Claude Juncker.

CEEP President and General Secretary highlighted in particular the following points:

On the efforts towards an agreement on Greece:

“It is not for us to take a stand on the final result of negotiations and it is for Greek citizens to decide on 5 July about the future of Greece. We can only acknowledge that a great number of the reforms mentioned in the offer published by the European Commission on Sunday 28 June touch upon key public services, whether public administrations or Services of General Economic Interest. In this respect, CEEP offers the experience and knowledge of its members who are core providers of those services all over Europe. Many of them have, are, or will undergo major changes, and that is why we are constantly engaged in a process of benchmarking and sharing of best practices to support public services providers in their restructuring and change processes. We feel the duty to do the same in the Greek context, as the responsibility of increasing effectiveness and efficiency of public services lies primarily on public services providers. Reforming Greek public services, in order to make them capable of answering to the Greek people’s needs in a responsible way: We believe that it is part of the solution, and CEEP stands ready to provide its support.”

On the completion of the Digital Single Market:

“We welcome the orientations given in the Council Conclusions of 25 and 26 of June and are ready here too to do our share, as the digitalisation of public services can be a key driver for effectiveness and efficiency. A new generation of public services is about to emerge and it is not all and only about e-government. Digitalisation supports the full spectrum of Services of General Interest, ranging from energy and water to education and healthcare. But the access to those services is directly linked to the quality of the connection to networks which remains an issue in many rural areas in Europe. This is why our commitment towards modernization alone is not enough: There is a clear need to connect rural areas to broadband networks, or we might end up with citizens left on the side of the ‘digital revolution’. However, connecting rural areas does not provide a high return on investment, and is not an attractive economic prospect for services providers, hence the need to set up incentives to encourage such investments, for instance through more flexible state aid rules that we now urge the European Commission to consider.”

On the Country Specific Recommendations and ongoing structural reforms:

We welcome the new timeline for the publication of the country-specific recommendations and euro area analysis. It is more than a technicality: this new method allowed for deeper discussion with Member States and social partners, increasing the sense of ownership of EU governance at national, regional and local levels. But it is still not enough: the direction of future country-specific recommendations should aim at improving the balance between the main goals of delivering ambitious structural reforms, pursing responsible fiscal policies aiming at short-term stabilisation, and long-term sustainability, investments and growths. In this respect, we welcome the focus given by the five Presidents’ report on the completion of the EMU. Today, that report acquires an increased relevance and meaning. Setting up a euro area treasury accountable at the European level is a great step, not only for the completion of the EMU, but for the EU project as a whole.”

“To conclude, we sincerely hope the EU will come out stronger from the current discussions and count on the institutions to do their outmost best to strengthen the European Union and the values of the European project. This would be perfectly in line with the principles and values promoted by Jacques Delors, who was so rightly invested the title of “Honorary Citizen of Europe” by the Council of 25 and 26 June.”

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CEEP welcomes the adoption of the EFSI regulation by the European Parliament, a few weeks following the Council’s approval. The Investment Plan can now become fully operational, and CEEP encourages Vice-President Katainen to speed up the work on the European Investment Advisory Hub to make it a “daily support” for projects promoters who already have questions on “how to use the EFSI”.

Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP Secretary General, commented the final version of the text, which is the heart of the European Commission’s Investment Plan:

“We are glad to see in the final text of the EFSI regulation many of the demands CEEP put forward. The final text avoids wordings which could have excluded ex-ante publicly-managed projects and public investors. References to the Europe 2020 strategy and to the 2013 Social Investment Plan are now clear. An increased transparency and accountability of the mechanisms are also important additions to the initial Commission’s proposal.

However, we regret that the EFSI still focuses on projects regardless of their geographic location. While this will increase the volume of cross-border projects and fundings, it ignores the different investment needs of Member States. It is clear that the EFSI, while being an important tool, will not be able to fulfil alone the investment gap in Europe. CEEP will now concentrate on supporting the development of the third pillar of the Investment Plan to reduce that gap, while pushing for a holistic approach towards long term investments in all EU policies”.

“We welcome the fact that the European Commission decided to consult with the social partners on the Energy Union”, commented Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP Secretary General, following a meeting between representatives of the European social partners and Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union.

“The Energy Union Strategy needs to be at the heart of a fully-integrated project, and not as a stand-alone initiative”, said Ms Ronzitti. In that context, the involvement of the social partners can bring an important added-value, especially with regard to the anticipation of change, the new skills requirement within the workforce, as well as the up-skilling, re-skilling and retraining of workers.
On top of that, cross-sectoral social partners, especially members at national and regional level, can effectively contribute to shape National Energy and Climate Plans. “We highly value the intention of Vice-President Šefčovič to push that involvement forward. We believe that it could also trigger a broader public acceptance of the Energy Union Strategy, which is much needed in some Member States, especially where big infrastructure projects are at stake”, detailed Ms Ronzitti.

Referring to the upcoming ETS reform, CEEP believes that, in order to finance the decarbonisation transition, a revision of the ETS should aim at raising the price of the CO2 permits to the level allowing its long term financing. The ETS in its current state does not deliver an appropriate price signal, failing to stimulate investment in a decarbonised generation.

CEEP also stressed the importance for the EU to play a leading role during the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, indicating the Energy Union strategy as the right instrument for bringing the EU’s ambition position forward.

Reacting to today’s vote by the International Trade (INTA) Committee of the European Parliament on the draft report of the Parliament’s recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

“Since the beginning, CEEP has been supporting the overall objective of concluding an ambitious trade agreement with our US partner. However, the TTIP should not put at risk the provision of high-quality services of general interests in Europe, now and, more importantly, in the future.
In this regard, we can only welcome the report adopted today by the INTA committee, as it supports the exclusion of SGIs and SGEIs from the scope of application of TTIP.”

Dear Vice-President Katainen,
Dear Mr. Stantič,
Dear Mr. Lahti,
Dear Bernadette Ségol,
Dear Milena and Tom,
Dear CEEP-Members,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I’d like to cordially welcome you to our second CEEP Public Services Summit! Exactly 30 years ago, representatives of our organization have laid the basis for a cross-sectorial social dialogue at European level together with Jacques Delors. At the beginning we concentrated on issues in the field of European employment and social policies. But then it was discovered that cooperation in economic terms, as foreseen in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), made a joint coordination of other policies inevitably necessary.

This fact can for example be observed in a closer cooperation in environmental policies or a common monetary policy. Today the countries of the European Union have grown that close together, that around 80 percent of the decisions taken in Brussels have a direct or indirect effect on each individual citizen and with it also on the Public Services. Therefore, it was coherent to identify major European social partners 30 years ago which are involved in European policy-making in an institutionalized way and which have been assigned an own chapter in European primary lawCEEP therefore takes an eminent role compared to other European umbrella organisations. We are no classical lobby organisation, but we are an acknowledged partner of the EU institutions. This fact is at the same time recognition and duty. Because one thing is for sure: industrial relations in Europe are as complex today as European Policy-Making, since the EU was enlarged from 10 member states in 1985 up to 28 member states today.

CEEP does also have to face this complexity. However, our positioning for example in the field of European energy policy has shown that the CEEP members are a good indicator for the subsequent positioning of the Council. So, have a look at the CEEP and you will know how the EU member states will position themselves. But CEEP members are not only faced with new challenges by the multi-level governance system. It is also the European-wide economic and financial crisis that put our members under an enormous pressure during the last seven years. The essential role of social partners could be detected just in these times of crises. It is a matter of fact, that those member states, which better faced the crisis, possessed a well-functioning social dialogue system. I do however emphasize, that many things do also have to change. As a self-critical employer I want to stress that we can do more to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Public Services. The reforms that have been initiated in many member states in the last seven years originated from the fact, that the public sector hasnt been able to react to and to anticipate necessary change fast enough.

Therefore CEEP could be in a leading position for the initiation of a benchmarking system for the European public sector. On this basis it would be possible to exchange best-practices and to commonly reform the regional and local administrations as well as the public utilities in a cooperative relationship. Dear ladies and gentlemen, both the Political Guidelines of the new EU-Commission as well as today’s conference put the emphasis on the foundation of growth and employment in Europe. In order to achieve this goal, two prerequisites are necessary, out of my point of view: A) de-facto investments and B) re-gaining trust in the European projectIn both terms a do see the CEEP as a partner of the European institutions and the other way round.

One of the first major projects initiated by the new European Commission has been the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Its aim is to stimulate investments of 315 billion Euros within the next three years by diminishing the risk-bearing capacity of investors. Only 21 billion Euros will be coming out of the EU budget respectively from the European Investment Bank. It is envisaged that 1 Euro public guarantee will initiate 15 times more public or private investments. I especially appreciate that the Vice-President of the European Commission for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, is with us today.  Hence I’d like to emphasize that CEEP explicitly welcomes the focus on the sectors identified by the EFSI. A major priority of the fund is foreseen for investments in infrastructure, especially in the fields of broadband, energy and transport infrastructure. We do also appreciate the focus on renewable energies, energy efficiency as well as education and health. Public and private investments are asked to go hand in hand, complementing each other.

In this context, both as president of CEEP and as European citizen, I’d like to point out, that Public Services are the backbone of the European social-market economy. Therefore investments in enterprises, education and infrastructure form the basis for future prosperity and technological progress as well as for the establishment of further employment.

In the current debate on the issue of Industry 4.0 it is far too often disregarded that Public Services are indispensable for all the following value-added steps: A reliable and intelligent energy supply as well as a coherent transport infrastructure is a prerequisite for efficient industrial production; high-speed broadband access is a prerequisite for the digitalization of both the economy and the society; secure water and sanitation are constitutive for the well-being of the whole population. The English language invented a proper term for these facts: it calls public services the “enabling services“. This snowball-effect can even be proved: According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the increase in public investments in an amount of one percent of the national GDP leads to economic growth of 0.4 percent in the very same year. Four years later the increase amounts for 1.5 percent. I am, however, also convinced, that is it is not only the right financial instruments we need but also the right and long-term oriented political framework.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the last minutes remaining, I’d like to focus on one topic that more and more worries me, when thinking about the future of Public Services. The current European Commission has dedicated even two Commissioners to the topic of digitalization. Andrus Ansip as Vice-President for the Digital Single Market and Günther Oettinger as Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society.

Just recently on 6th of May the Commission presented its strategy for the Digital Single Market. I am highly convinced that the focus of the Commission on digitalization is at least as important as the focus on growth and jobs whereas both topics do anyway closely relate to each other. The digital age does mean both, a big chance as well as a big challenge for Europe and its economy. Public Services are equally affected by this development, no matter which type of service they represent. New technologies change the demands and comportment of clients and citizens. They dramatically change communication, information and operating procedures. At the same Public Services will have to face rising requirements with respect to IT-security.

Digitalization does have many faces: Social Media, Smart-Service offers, intelligent transportation, just to mention a few. All these developments do not only ask for adaptation. In an optimal way Public Services do use these developments in order to pro-actively design new business opportunities. Many Public Services already today are either fully or partially facing a European-wide market situation. The digitalization does lead to a situation on which new third parties enter into these markets all of a sudden. Sometimes they are coming from completely other branches. This becomes quite obvious for example if you have a look at the smart home market and the activities of Google, Vodafone or Samsung. The development of new technologies raises new expectations concerning the nature of Public Services. We have to be fully aware of these developments and tackle them pro-actively. Therefore we also have to modernize in this field in order to stay attractive in the long run and in order to be able to fulfill the demands of our customers and citizens also in the future. I am sure that a new generation of Public Services is about to emerge.

And I am also sure that the CEEP with its cross-sectorial membership is the right organization to tackle these challenges together. Todays and tomorrow’s CEEP Public Services Summit will discuss all the mentioned topics more in depth. I am therefore looking forward to an interesting exchange of views!

“We have deconstructed the ‘inefficient and ineffective public services’ dogma declared Valeria Ronzitti at the end of the 2nd edition of the Public Services Summit, which brought together more than 150 participants around the theme Reinvesting in Europe: Investing in Public Services.

The Summit took place just after the CEEP General Assembly which unanimously re-elected Ms Ronzitti as General Secretary for a second mandate: “I am particularly happy about the findings of the Summit because they perfectly fit with the “SGIs ethos” under which I intend to guide the organisation over the next three years “Strengthen the public services community, because the EU will grow thanks to investments in the social and physical infrastructure we represent; Grow in terms of representativeness, because we need to make sure the voice of public services employers all over Europe is better heard in the EU semester; Innovate the public services we represent, because our members are the best placed to modernise the services they manage”.

Modernisation of public services, especially through digitalisation, was very much at the centre of the debates during the Public Services Summit. From transport to water providers passing through local authorities’, members showcased the benefits of digitalisations for increased effectiveness of the services, beneficial to private businesses and to citizens.

“Public Services are the backbone of the European social-market economy and CEEP is ready to drive its members towards a new generation of public services” concluded Valeria Ronzitti, announcing that as a result of the Summit the Public Services Employers’ Forum is going to address a set of recommendations to EU institutions.

Opening remarks by Mr Hans-Joachim Reck.

Ms Valeria Ronzitti was re-elected as General Secretary of CEEP during the General Assembly held on 20 May 2015. Ms Ronzitti has been elected for this position in 2012. She has been re-elected for a 3-year mandate, running until 2018.

Public services employers and providers welcome the European Commission package on Better Regulation. Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary said:

“The European Commission made today a step in the right direction to increase the quality of EU legislation, have smarter regulation and strengthen the ownership of the European project by EU citizens.”

“However, it is clear that ‘Better regulation’ cannot be achieved by the European Commission alone and has to receive a strong commitment from the co-legislators. The Communication on Better Regulation would only have a symbolic effect without the adoption of a new inter-institutional agreement.”

“What is good on paper needs now to be implemented in practice, and CEEP will give a “vigilant support” to the package. We need to make sure it will translate in a more inclusive approach to EU policy making, notably by the involvement of EU social partners in the REFIT platform.”

“CEEP has been monitoring closely and engaging on actions presented under REFIT and will continue to do so. Reducing regulatory costs can bring significant benefits to Services of General Interests in Europe, notably by improving the investment environment. However, it is important that more systematic monitoring and evaluation of policies do not question fundamental elements of existing and long-negotiated EU legislation.”

“Finally on Social Partners agreements, we are glad that the European Commission found the right balance between the essential need of respecting the specific role of social partners when concluding agreements and the need of transparency and accountability to which, of course, we are also subject.”

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