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On Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 May 2015, CEEP will organise the second edition of the Public Services Summit (PSS). Held at the European Economic and Social Committee, the PSS will bring together EU leaders, national policy-makers and leaders of public services.

The Summit will mainly focus on the European Investment strategy, with a particular focus on investments in public services. Panellists will discuss the political case for an Investment Plan during the first day, while concrete examples and best practices will be presented during the second day, with spotlights on transport, energy, digital and social infrastructures such as healthcare and education.

Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, explained the philosophy of the event: “The event aims to be a big brainstorming session. We intend to give the opportunity to participants and members to actively take part in the discussion. Too often, conferences and summits are a compilation of speeches, with a crowd only there to listen. We want the PSS to be an interactive event, able to inspire the Public Services community over the next two years”.

Amongst others, European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, Minister Nicolas Schmit and Director-General Dominique Ristori (DG Energy) will be addressing the event.

Hans-Joachim Reck, CEEP President, said: “It is a great honour for us to welcome such prominent speakers. Next to Mr Katainen, Schmit and Ristori, we will also hear speeches from many different horizons. Representatives of the EIB, of the trade unions, of sectoral organisations will discuss with our members, which have a ground experience of the economic reality and know in which infrastructures Europe needs to invest.”

You can find the agenda of the event here.

You can register for the event here.

CEEP welcomes the presentation of the Digital Single Market Strategy by the European Commission. It is a key step towards a fair regulatory environment, crucial to boost the European digital economy and a more inclusive society, to ensure a level-playing field for all, to encourage future investments in digital infrastructures and to sustain investment in original digital content which is one of the main drivers of the digital economy and society. The Strategy rightfully focuses on both networks and content, going hand-in-hand as a virtuous circle.

Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, specifically emphasised the importance of an inclusive e-society in the Strategy, including digital skills and expertise as well as the access to e-services. “The Digital Single Market Strategy stresses the growing importance of e-services, such as e-government, e-energy, e-transport and e-health. Since the beginning of the economic crisis, public services providers have been facing new and complex challenges, such as budget cuts and the search for improved efficiency. For our members, e-services clearly represent an important instrument to become even more efficient and effective.
However, in order to reach the full potential of those services, there is a need for citizens and businesses to have access to efficient and reliable networks. In that context, additional investments are needed in digital infrastructures, in particular broadband rollout, in urban as well as in rural areas.”

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At the informal ESPCO (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council), CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti expressed the views of public services’ employers, emphasising the importance of social dialogue in the current context:

  • “The involvement of social partners in shaping Europe’s policy-making is a pre-condition for its legitimacy and democratic acceptability. The ‘New Start for Social Dialogue’ process should reinforce Social Dialogue at bi-partite and at tri-partite level, while keeping intact the autonomy of Social Partners.”
  • “A good tripartite dialogue can help foster bi-partite activities by creating a real habitus of discussion and negotiation, as well as giving organisations the opportunity to discuss regularly. This practice is still severely lacking in too many countries, while the first thing that social partners need is the full and constant support of the governments in order to develop and sustain sound working relations.”
  • “The autonomy of social partners should never be questioned. Social dialogue is a factor of stability and competitiveness for the EU. This essential role cannot be fully played if our autonomy, representativeness and very nature are questioned whenever we should be encouraged to reach balanced compromises.”

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The event takes place in Brussels on 20 and 21 May 2015 and will bring together European leaders of public services and decision-makers around the topic ‘Re-investing in Europe: Investing in Public Services’.
Agenda and programme is available here..

At the Tripartite Social Summit, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti expressed views on key issues of the European agenda.

  • On the Energy Union and Climate-change management:

“CEEP strongly supports the establishment of a real Energy Union. We see the necessity for a swift completion of the internal energy market as a way to support the economic recovery within the EU but also as a way to strengthen Europe’s external dimension.”

“We hope that the European ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will find counterparts in the rest of the international community and that the bottom-up approach decided in Lima will give a new impetus to the climate change negotiations.”

  • On the Investment Plan and the EU Semester

“The Investment Plan must have far-reaching impacts, aiming at creating sustainable jobs and improving Europe’s long-term growth potential by modernising social and physical infrastructures. Private investments alone cannot reach that goal. They have to be based on and supported by well targeted public investments in key Services of General Interest.”

“The European Semester is an essential element of the European policy making. The change of national policies towards more sustainable investments must be reflected in the Semester. To make the Investment Plan works, Member States also have to set their National Reform Programmes on an ‘investment and growth mode’.”

  • On reforming public services

“Since Public Services are responsible for 26 percent of the European GDP and employ 30 percent of the European workforce the public sector needs to take over responsibility to restore European competitiveness. We do our share by identifying management practices that can best accompany reforms in public services at national regional and local levels”.

On top of Ms Ronzitti’s speech at the Tripartite Social Summit, CEEP addressed a letter to Heads of State and Government in view of the Council meeting and published its biannual ‘Pulse of Public Services’, presenting the main challenges faced by public services’ providers in Europe.

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On 18 March, CEEP addressed a letter on Working Time Directive to Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.

The letter accompanied CEEP answer to the open consultation on the revision of the WTD and reiterated a long standing public services’ employers position : for employers providing public services on a 24/7 basis, it is crucial to revise the Working Time Directive. Such a change was asked since 2003, when judgments of the European Court of Justice (SiMAP and Jaeger) had introduced a re-interpretation of the concept of working time. Those adaptations proved to often be unfit for purpose and unsustainable, entailing a growing use of opt out in public services.

The approach to a revision must be clearly based on the recognition that the world is very different today in comparison to what it was over 20 years ago, and that the Working Time Directive, as it stands, does not reflect at all those changes. A revision should be based on a complete shift of paradigm and provide a cross-sectoral framework solution to today’s employers’ and workers’ needs. To adapt and face the transformations within the labour market, the Working Time Directive should become a stable, clear and more certain legal instrument, able to give the needed flexibility to national law or collective bargaining in order to address the matters which are highly dependent of national circumstances and practice of the labour law.

In a letter to members of the INTA (International Trade) committee of the European Parliament, CEEP presented its proposed amendments in order to improve the European Parliament’s Recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

In its effort to make a decisive contribution to the current work on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, CEEP prepared amendments aiming at improving the proposal of the European Commission. Our amendments to the legislative proposal focused on five main priorities:

  1. To make sure that the plan does not only respond to economic but also to social and job creation objectives;
  2. To make clear that public and private investments need to complement each other’s: In the original proposal for the EFSI Regulation there is an over reliance on the leverage effect to be achieved by private investments;
  3. To ensure that funds trigger investment both in physical and social infrastructures;
  4. To strive for decentralization of the mechanism currently outlined by the EFSI regulation, giving more place to local authorities and social partners;
  5. To obtain more transparency and accountability of the selection committee thanks to an enforced role of the co-legislator.

You consult the letter sent to the MEPs of the ECON and BUDG committee, as well as the Amendments prepared.

At the high level conference ‘A New Start for Social Dialogue’, Hans-Joachim Reck, CEEP President, reiterated the commitment of public services employers’ to Tripartite Social Dialogue. “The involvement of European, but also national, Social Partners in the European policy-making process is a pre-condition for its legitimacy,” he said.

He also offered the concrete support of CEEP in reinforcing industrial relations in public services, especially where effectiveness and efficiency need to be increased through modernisation and reforms. He went on, explaining that “negotiated reforms work better, especially when they are backed by benchmarking about what worked well or not in different countries and different sectors.”

For that reason, CEEP launched back in 2010 the Public Services Employers’ Forum, together with several sectoral employers’ organisations. At the occasion of the re-launch of Social Dialogue, the PSEF presented a joint declaration on social dialogue.

During the concluding session, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, outlined the elements of what could be called a “tripartite work programme”:

  • Strengthening the involvement of social partners in the EU semester by ensuring that Country Specific Recommendations reflect the real needs of employers and workers at national level;
  • Involving social partners in EU policy making, beyond the classic ‘article 154 consultations’, in fields going from the Energy union to the Digital Agenda, which all have an impact on growth and job creation and on better regulation, in the sense of bringing consistency in the too fragmented panorama of social dialogues.

“But the tripartite social dialogue cannot work if it is not based on sound bipartite Social Dialogue. CEEP wants to reiterate today its strong commitment to bipartite social dialogue. Strong and autonomous Social Partners are an essential pillar of EU social market economy”, concluded Ms Ronzitti.

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