News

This afternoon [27 May 2020], European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the European Commission’s proposals for the EU recovery, relying on the Next Generation EU instrument, a proposal for an updated Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and an adapted Commission Work Programme for 2020.

Following the presentation of those long-awaited proposals, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti said:

“CEEP welcomes the intent of the European Commission to put forward a proposal for an EU recovery aimed at balancing burden-sharing, solidarity and sovereignty across the EU. The EU institutions must now agree on a recovery strategy fixing the damages caused by the COVID-19 outbreak while preparing for the future.”

“With our members, we will now proceed to a careful analysis of the proposals for the Next Generation EU instrument. We must now find the right balance between grants and loans, short and long-term perspectives and, first and foremost, address the most urgent priorities.”

“CEEP supports the highlighted priorities for building a forward-looking EU model. The green and digital twin transitions must be the engine of the new EU growth strategy embracing a resource-efficient, sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Central in providing the direct response to the COVID-19 outbreak, our members, representing employers and providers of services of general interest at the frontline of the crisis, should be placed at the very heart of the recovery and the future of the EU project.”

CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti signed an opinion piece for the magazine “Our World – Struck by the Pandemic” edition:

Public Services and Services of General Interest on the Frontline Against COVID-19

Other contributors to the this edition of the magazine include, amongst others, Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health, António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of The European Commission for Promoting Our European Way of Life or Gianni Pittella, Member of the Italian Senate, Former Vice President of the European Parliament & former Leader of the S&D Group in the European Parliament. You can consult the full edition here.

Today [5th May 2020], Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, attended the informal meeting of employment and social policy ministers, organised by the Croatian Presidency of the EU and held online for the first time.

Addressing the “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on European societies: demographic challenges and measures for economic recovery and social security”, the meeting brought together EU social partners and employment and social policy ministers of the 27, with a focus on the consequences of COVID-19 on labour markets and the economy and the measures to alleviate those.

Representing employers and providers of services of general interest, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti said:

Appropriate investment into social infrastructure is indispensable to manage the demographic transition. The pandemic is now exposing the product of decades of underinvestment in our social infrastructure. We must learn from this experience and mobilize unprecedented efforts to close this investment gap.”

CEEP supports the call to EPSCO ministers issued by the European Commission to protect and invest in social services and social infrastructures: they are the ones ensuring the delivery of essential services to the vulnerable sectors of the population, including the most exposed to the impacts of the COVID-19. This momentum requires a new policy mix to be put forward, which must be able to not only promote the recovery, but to efficiently address our long-term structural challenges.”

CEEP also calls for the EU and the Member States to make full use of social dialogue, which has a proven track-record of generating effective, practical, and equitable solutions to the type of challenges now confronting the world of work. At EU level, social partners have been working actively and collectively with the institutions to face the crisis and intend to continue this work throughout the next phases, in which we should be consulted as the ones who can efficiently deliver.”

Today [15th April 2020], the Commission, in cooperation with the President of the European Council and responding to the call from the heads of state and of government for a coordinated exit strategy, has put forward a European roadmap to phase-out the containment measures put in place due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Welcoming the objectives of this roadmap aimed at promoting a pan-European cooperation whilst progressively lifting lockdowns across the continent, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, commented:

When designing exit strategies, a one-size-fits-all approach is impossible to implement across the EU, as territories and sectors are unevenly affected. European guidance is however needed to promote solidarity and cooperation across the continent. Failing to implement a coordinated approach could prove contrary to the whole EU integration, which was aimed at increasing economic and social convergence between and within Member States.”

“We welcome the fact that the Roadmap stresses that public health remains at the top of the agenda and should prevail on the economy. Notwithstanding the importance of restarting the economy to mitigate the enormous economic and social impacts of the crisis, the protection of public health, combined with the serious evaluation of the capacity of each national healthcare system, should remain the first guiding principle.”

We now call upon Member States, as well as the EU, regional and local institutions to involve the social partners in the design of the de-containment process. By their nature and representativeness, employers and trade unions are the perfect interlocutors to prepare and issue guidelines on how to safely bring sectors, regions and Member States out of lockdowns.”

“SGI providers, which have maintained activities throughout the crisis, have implemented specific health and safety measures to protect workers. With its partners of the platform ‘SGI facing COVID-19’ and their joint expertise, CEEP can therefore contribute to shaping concrete guidelines.”

On 27 March 2020, CEEP, together with its sectoral members HOSPEEM (healthcare), EFEE (education) and EBU (public service broadcasters); PSEF members CER (railways) and UITP (public transport); and partner organisations EASPD (services for persons with disabilities) and HOPE (hospital and healthcare), have launched a new platform “Services of General Interest facing COVID-19”, which is accessible here.
Featuring examples and practices from sectors such as healthcare, telecommunications, housing, public transport, social services, education, administration, energy or water, this page will be regularly updated, highlighting both the short-term effects of the ongoing crisis on providers of those essential services, as well as highlighting proposals for long-term political solutions.

Ahead of the launch of the platform, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, commented:

SGIs providers work tirelessly to ensure that essential and high-quality services are still available to citizens and businesses. Healthcare providers are, evidently, first in line but all SGIs around Europe have been directly hit by the coronavirus spread, and this cannot be understated.”

“This platform, as well as the network of associations we are building to support it, intends to highlight these consequences, ranging from adapting the management of the staff to facing sharp and brutal changes in the usage of the services.”

“By highlighting to the EU institutions the impacts of the crisis on the ground, the platform will also serve the purpose of contributing to shape the coordinated exit strategy and the comprehensive recovery plan the EU Commission has been tasked with yesterday by the European Council.”

Ahead of the Council video conference of today dedicated to the COVID-19 emergency, CEEP called upon EU leaders to preserve European welfare systems and the social market economy. Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, commented:

“Our members, SGIs employers and providers, work tirelessly to ensure that essential and high-quality services are still available to a frightened population. Healthcare providers are, evidently, first in line on this battle and deserve particular praise. However, all SGIs around Europe have been directly hit by the coronavirus spread and this cannot be understated”.

 “We now ask EU leaders to respond to the commitment and dedication shown by our members on a daily basis with adequate measures to face this crisis, and to make sure their efforts and struggle are fully recognised all over Europe. This crisis has put in broad daylight our critical lack of physical and social infrastructures at the European level. CEEP has long warned for the consequences of undifferentiated fiscal consolidation on the operational framework for SGIs, while witnessing the unreserved support to the “for profit sector” to prepare for the transitions.”

 “It is now time to demonstrate the decisiveness of the EU’s action, with a united response, fiscal policies delivering “whatever it takes”, and making full use of all possibilities through the ESM until the economic dynamic is properly restored. The Corona Response Investment Initiative must help healthcare systems but should also provide support for heavily affected SGIs enterprises.”

 “Measures taken now will pave the way for a solid recovery based on a new paradigm where the “business case” for investing in SGIs should be a major rationale. Urgency plans are crucial, but they should not obliterate long-term needs and strategic choices. On the contrary, this crisis gives us the opportunity to confirm our engagement for a greener economy and improved infrastructure. Schools, hospitals, digital infrastructure are key today, as demonstrated by this crisis, but will also remain key for the long-term prosperity of our social market economy.”

The European employer and trade union organisations’ sympathies are with the families of those who have already lost loved ones to COVID-19, and our gratitude is to the workers and enterprises who are already showing exceptional courage and resilience, both to treat the sick, and to maintain the vital goods and services upon which we all depend. We are closely following the developments of the dramatic emergency of the COVID-19 epidemic across Europe and are at the forefront, particularly within member states, of the design and implementation of the extraordinary measures to help enterprises and workers in facing this emergency.

The European social partners support the set of measures announced by the European Commission and the European Central Bank over the last days, and are in close contact with the Commission to help ensuring a swift and effective implementation, which shall come on top, and in support of, the national measures that have been, and are going to be discussed between national social partners and national governments.

The European social partners urge the European Council of Heads of State and Government to approve all the measures proposed by the European Commission so far, without any delay, nor with changes that could weaken their impact.

The social partners urge the governments to approve in particular measures envisaging:

  • the temporary full use of the built-in flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact targets, including its temporary suspension by using the general escape clause;
  • avoiding single market distortions, including bans and export restrictions and especially for export of medical equipment and medicines, and stopping closing borders for goods; safeguarding all freight transport modes is a priority within the EU, also having an essential role to coordinate and inform regarding actions taken in Member States;
  • encouraging Member States’ spending and investment particularly to reinforce staff, equipment and means for national health services, social protection systems and other services of general interest;
  • mobilising unused structural funds and any other available EU funding to support Member States in ensuring financial and income support for workers affected by unemployment or suspension from work, including non-standard workers and self-employed;
  • ensuring credit access and financial support for enterprises, especially all types of SMEs, affected by lockdown and emergency measures, with a coordinated intervention from the EU budget, the ECB, the EIB, and national promotional banks;
  • activating the solidarity fund for natural disasters and any other available funding at EU level;
  • the efforts by the European Commission to deploy full flexibility within State Aid rules should also be acknowledged.

Member States should involve national Social Partners in the designing and implementation of national measures.

All efforts need to be undertaken to help workers, enterprises, economic activities and public services to survive the crisis, so they will be able to come back to their activities when the crisis ends, to keep workers in their jobs meanwhile, to protect from unemployment and loss of income, and to alleviate financial losses.

The Commission and Member States must ensure that financial support reaches enterprises, especially all types of SMEs, and all workers, including the self-employed and those with precarious jobs who are most vulnerable.

The Commission’s plan to apply flexibility regarding the application of its fiscal and State Aid rules is essential to supporting public services, which are stretched to the limit, as well as companies and workers hit by the crisis.

EU funding invested in protecting workers and enterprises from the worst effects of the crisis should be additional to member states’ spending.

Europe must show responsibility, solidarity and efficiency in facing this emergency, by protecting all its affected citizens, workers and enterprises.

The European employer and trade union organisations’ sympathies are with the families of those who have already lost loved ones to COVID-19, and our gratitude is to the workers and enterprises who are already showing exceptional courage and resilience, both to treat the sick, and to maintain the vital goods and services upon which we all depend. We are closely following the developments of the dramatic emergency of the COVID-19 epidemic across Europe and are at the forefront, particularly within member states, of the design and implementation of the extraordinary measures to help enterprises and workers in facing this emergency.

The European social partners support the set of measures announced by the European Commission on 13 March and the European Central Bank over the last days, and are in close contact with the Commission to help ensuring a swift and effective implementation, which shall come on top, and in support of, the national measures that have been, and are going to be discussed between national social partners and national governments.

The European social partners urge the Eurogroup and the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN), meeting on 16-17 March, to approve all the measures proposed by the European Commission so far, without any delay, nor with changes that could weaken their impact.

The social partners urge the governments to approve in particular measures envisaging:

  • the temporary full use of the built-in flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact targets, including considering its temporary suspension by using the general escape clause;
  • avoiding single market distortions, including bans and export restrictions and especially for export of medical equipment and medicines, and stopping closing borders for goods; safeguarding all freight transport modes is a priority within the EU, also having an essential role to coordinate and inform regarding actions taken in Member States;
  • encouraging Member States’ spending and investment particularly to reinforce staff, equipment and means for national health services, social protection systems and other services of general interest;
  • mobilising unused structural funds and other EU funds to support Member States in ensuring financial and income support for workers affected by unemployment or suspension from work, including non-standard workers and self-employed;
  • ensuring credit access and financial support for enterprises, especially all types of SMEs, affected by lockdown and emergency measures, with a coordinated intervention from the EU budget, the ECB, the EIB, and national promotional banks;
  • activating the solidarity fund for natural disasters and any other available funding at EU level;
  • the efforts by the European Commission to deploy full flexibility within State Aid rules should also be acknowledged.

Member States should involve national Social Partners in the designing and implementation of national measures.

All efforts need to be undertaken to help workers, enterprises, economic activities and public services to survive the crisis, so they will be able to come back to their activities when the crisis ends, to keep workers in their jobs meanwhile, to protect from unemployment and loss of income, and to alleviate financial losses.

The Commission and Member States must ensure that financial support reaches enterprises, especially all types of SMEs, and all workers, including the self-employed and those with precarious jobs who are most vulnerable.

The Commission’s plan to apply flexibility regarding the application of its fiscal and State Aid rules is essential to supporting public services, which are stretched to the limit, as well as companies and workers hit by the crisis.

EU funds invested in protecting workers and enterprises from the worst effects of the crisis should be additional to member states’ spending.

Europe must show responsibility, solidarity and efficiency in facing this emergency, by protecting all its affected citizens, workers and enterprises.

This Friday [13 March 2020], the European Commission has presented its guidelines in order to provide a prompt and efficient European response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the EU economy.

Reacting to this package of measures, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

“We highly welcome the Commission’s effort to put in place a set of actions to mitigate the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. In particular, the flexibility-driven approach to the state aid regime and to the Stability and Growth pact will surely contribute to improve Member States’ margins of maneuver to offer relief to enterprises and workers.”

Our members, providers of public services and services of general interest, are highly affected, such as the healthcare sector – which clearly must be given ultimate priority right now – as well as transport and education. Additionally, public banks and financial institutions will suffer the pressure to adequately respond to this emergency and must have the proper tools and incentives at their disposal to safeguard liquidity ratios across Member States.”

Giving the appropriate support to those essential services is indispensable. Nevertheless, we are concerned that, apart from the tailored measures that are rightfully designed to assist the healthcare system, the Commission’s action plan announced today lacks a well-defined approach to public services and services of general interest, especially local public services enterprises with structures, staffing and budgetary capacities of SMEs.”

“Finally, the challenge we face today must be a lesson for the future. The EU must finally set up an institutional framework that allows for the efficient coordination among different levels of governance and enhances the EU’s leading role. Without such skeleton, our capacity to respond to shocks will remain short-termist and marginal.”

Today [10th March 2020], the European Commission put forward its proposal for a new Industrial Strategy. The Strategy comprises a communication for A New Industrial Strategy for Europe, An SME Strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe, an Action Plan for better implementation and enforcement of the single market rules and the Single Market Barriers Report.

Reacting to this proposal, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

“CEEP considers the Package published today as a central element for the realization of the EU’s ambition to support the environmental and digital transitions of economic actors, on equal footing with the EU Green Deal, the European Sustainable Investment Plan and the Digital Package.”

“Services of general interest are at the heart of those strategies and are essential actors of the competitiveness and adaptability of the EU industrial base. SGIs are responsible for the provision of the infrastructure without which most, if not all, of our economies’ value chains would collapse: We call in this context for a balanced approach, fully taking into account the specificities and achievements of employers and enterprises of services of general interest.”

“CEEP welcomes the inclusion of the SME strategy in this Industrial Package. The new Commission’s framework has rightly identified the measures necessary to assist SMEs while recognizing that SMEs are very diverse. In this context we insist on the role of local public services SMEs for achieving our sustainability and competitiveness objectives and call for the strategy to also address their needs in the assessment of the SME definition.”

“The Circular Economy Action Plan is a key component of the EU industrial architecture. EU industries must fully embrace the ways of the circular economy or risk failing to meet with the EU’s environmental objectives. SGIs are at the key players in driving this new economic strategy and will pave the way of other economic actors to follow.”

We encourage the EU, national, regional and local authorities as well as social partners, to further build on this new strategy for concrete actions to reinforce the legal framework of the EU industry, R&D, financing, intellectual property, skilling and reskilling of workers, climate action measures, circular economy, as well as adapting competition rules and fight unfair practices.”

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