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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the ‘Val Duchesse’ that launched the cooperation with European social partners with the aim to involve social partners in the internal market process.

30 years later, European social dialogue has an even higher importance and, we, as representatives of employers’ organisations involved in the cross-industry and sectoral social dialogue (public transport, railway, electricity, education, hospitals and local and regional governments) declare the following for the High level event on social dialogue:

We fully support the European Commission’s commitment to enhance the importance of social dialogue and the EU social partners’ role in EU policies

We also welcome that Mr Juncker aims to become the President of “social dialogue” and are pleased to support him in this process. This high-level event on social dialogue on the 5th of March is the opportunity to highlight its visibility and its importance at EU level.

European social partners have particular expertise in their sectors and in the realities of their workplaces. They are best placed to help respond to issues such as management of change, restructuring, anticipation of future skills and training needs, transitions to employment, occupational safety and health, labour market integration, youth employment, etc; topics that are all of great importance in the light of the EU2020 strategy.

Moreover, because European social partners are closely linked to the realities in their sectors and the people on the ground, they can make an important contribution to the priority of Commissioner Juncker to make the European Union more democratic and bring it closer to its citizens; or in the words of the Commission to create ‘A Union of Democratic Change’.

We support the need to develop the capacity-building of national social partners

Capacity-building of social partners at all levels is of great importance and partners of the PSEF commit to supporting its development where and when possible. Partners of the PSEF commit to developing a more Social Dialogue friendly Europe.

As a consequence of national backgrounds and national economic situations, social dialogue went through difficulttimes in several Member States. With the support of the European Commission’s programme several activities on capacity-building should start to strengthen the current situation.

In view of the mid-term review of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, it is of great importance for the European Institutions to keep a large share devoted to social dialogue, infrastructure, education and training, R&D, and all other programmes that have a high return on investment for the European Economy.

Social partners are ready to work for the future of social dialogue

After 30 years of existence, we are at a turning point of EU social dialogue and it is now time to look forward and, based on our experiences, work together the future of social dialogue. Social Dialogue Partners of the PSEF are ready to take part in the announced work and evaluate the outcomes of the negotiation table.

The Public Services Employers’ Forum is an informal forum of European employer organisations
cooperating on matters of joint interest. Signatories of this joint declaration are:
CEEP, CEMR, EFEE, EURELECTRIC, HOSPEEM and UITP.

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CEEP was recently granted a project dedicated to the involvement of social services in the European cross-sectoral social dialogue. This project aims to facilitate the stepping up of these sectors within social dialogue at European level, thanks to activities of identification and gradual involvement.

The increased involvement of social services in the cross-sectoral social dialogue is a long process. Preliminary research and preparatory phases are of prime importance, as it will make it possible to determine future involvement of social services in cross-sectoral social dialogue. Distinguishing between employers’ organisations and service providers or lobby organisations will be of paramount importance.

How will it operate?

As a first step, an analysis based on desk research and interviews will be carried out to identify the structure of potential players for the social dialogue within social services.

This will be followed up by four round table meetings on capacity building and training on social dialogue mainly.

Finally, an event will be organised to disseminate the results of the project (around September – October 2016).

Following the presentation of the communications of the European Commission on the Energy Union and the Road to Paris, CEEP (European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services) welcomes the key priorities outlined in these projects. We endorse the idea that the Energy Union is not an isolated project anymore, but is deeply intertwined with other major European strategies, such as the EU Semester and Climate action. The Energy Union has the potential to put the EU on the road towards a coherent policy framework for a secure, sustainable and competitive European energy system, as well as to bring back economic growth and increase the level of investments in Europe.

In a meeting with EC Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič yesterday, Hans-Joachim Reck and Valeria Ronzitti already identified ways to best realise the objectives set out by the European Commission.

CEEP President Hans-Joachim Reck commented: “We are ready to support the Commission’s objectives on the Road to Paris and to set up the Energy Union.” The next steps towards their implementation will be decisive. He also explained: “We now quickly need a reformed ETS-system setting the right incentives to transform the European energy systems. A long term view should also include energy generation capacities that help secure a reliable energy provision.”

CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti added: “We welcome the fact that the European Commission acknowledges the importance of social partners in the development of the Energy Union. In this perspective we hope that the ‘clear links’ announced between the Energy Union governance and the European Semester will materialise” concluded Ms Ronzitti, anticipating to raise this issue at the next Tripartite Social Summit of 19 March.

Speaking today at the macroeconomic dialogue at political level (MEDPOL) in Brussels, CEEP Executive Vice-President Milena Angelova pointed out the importance of social dialogue in the structural reforms needed to bring back long-term growth. “Reforms are still necessary as we have not yet built the institutional framework and the infrastructures supporting long-term growth. And we can say that when we discuss reforms, we give a chance to social dialogue, which can be a proper means to reach balanced solutions and avoid further polarization in labour markets”, she explained.

Also, Ms Angelova welcomed the introduction of the triptych ‘Investment-Fiscal responsibility-Structural reforms’ in the Annual Growth Survey. Emphasising the importance of fiscal responsibility, she said: “After years of short-sighted fiscal policy, fiscal consolidation must now be replaced by a more growth-friendly fiscal responsibility.”
Following the recent communication of the Commission ‘Making the Best Use of the Flexibility within the Existing Rules of the Stability and Growth Pact’, Member States have today clearer margins for budget manoeuvring, encouraging them to invest and push through proper reforms.

“However, we should not be overly positive on the present lull which has too much to do with the lowering of the oil prices”, underlined Ms Angelova. “To finally give birth to some genuine growth, intelligent investment is the way. The Investment plan is the first step in that direction.”
The main challenge for the plan will be to satisfy many expectations with a limited initial public capital and a very ambitious anticipated leverage effect for private funding. The priorities identified are right, focusing on some key public services such as transport, energy and communication infrastructures and education, which are the very support of long lasting growth.

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At the eve of the 30th anniversary of ‘Val Duchesse’, CEEP wants to commemorate the event, proud to have been one of the “founding members” of the social dialogue at European level.

We strongly believe that the Social Dialogue has contributed to building and protecting the European Social Model. “Social Dialogue is a part of the solution to the challenges faced by Europe,” explained Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary. “That is why we are committed to strengthening it, both at the bipartite (between employers’ and trade unions) and at the tripartite level (between European institutions and employers’ and workers’ representatives).”

“The European Social Partners, as well as the national Social Partners, should now be more involved in the European Semester, which is now of capital importance for the design of the future of our Social Market Economy”, explained Ms Ronzitti.

From a Social Dialogue representing employers and workers from 10 Member States in 1985 to the Social Dialogue with representatives of 28 countries, the European Social Partners are a part of the evolution of the European Union.

The Social Partners have proved their ability to respond to evolving national Social Partners needs while finding the common denominator between 28 very diverse industrial relation systems. “CEEP is committed to pursuing that evolving path, sure that the European Social Partners will be able to demonstrate once again how essential they are for the progress of the European project” concluded Ms Ronzitti.

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Today, Filippo Brandolini, CEEP Executive Vice-President, represented public service providers at the public hearing on the Circular Economy Package at the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament.

In the context of the current discussions on a possible withdrawal of the Package, Mr Brandolini encouraged the European Commission to acknowledge the wide-spread support for it and highlighted its crucial role for the European economy as a whole:

“The Circular Economy Package is an important step towards a more circular economy in which resource efficiency becomes the key driver for both economic growth and environmental protection in the European Union. CEEP embraces the Circular Economy Package as it represents an outstanding opportunity to realize the objective of an even more sustainable economy. For CEEP, managing waste means managing resources.”

“The Circular Economy Package underlines that it is not about choosing between the prevention of the environment on the one side, and growth and jobs on the other, but about achieving benefits in all these fields.”

“The Package has an enormous potential to set free investment in resource-efficient technologies and services. It could thus become a driving force for the European economy as a whole. The Package should not be delayed in order to create the right framework for the highly needed increase in investment in Europe.”

Mr Brandolini underlinded that recycling must be increased in terms of quantity and, in particular, of quality. In this context Mr Brandolini highlighted: “Landfill reduction targets are a crucial part of achieving a circular economy. Both landfill targets and recycling targets should apply to all waste, not only municipal waste.”

Brussels, 21 January 2015 – To promote the European social dialogue in three EU candidate countries – Montenegro, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the European social partners will meet representatives of national employers and trade unions of these countries at a seminar in Belgrade on 22 and 23 January 2015.

The key goal of ETUC, BUSINESSEUROPE, CEEP and UEAPME is to help social partners in these countries better understand the role and functioning of the European social dialogue in view of their countries’ accession to the EU, and supporting the development of social dialogue between national organisations and/or their respective members.

Social dialogue is an important feature of the European model of economic and social development. In many EU countries, social partners play a substantial role in determining working conditions. As a significant vehicle of policy-making at EU and national levels, it allows devising arrangements that reflect the needs of enterprises and employees.

Engaging in a properly structured, responsible and effective social dialogue will also be key in the candidate countries for developing the framework conditions for long-term economic growth and job creation. Existence of strong, representative and independent employers and worker’s organizations is a prerequisite for an effective social dialogue at all appropriate levels. Further the recognition of national social partners in these countries through their consistent and effective consultations by governments is an essential component to make social dialogue a success.

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Mr Hans-Joachim Reck was re-elected as President of CEEP during the General Assembly held in Rome today. Mr Reck does hold the honorary post as President of CEEP since 2012. He has been re-elected for a 3-year mandate.

Mr Reck has been active in politics for a long time, in various functions. From 1993 to 1996, he was party manager of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at federal level and, from 2003 to 2005, he was General Secretary of the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia. Since 2007, Mr Reck is General Director and Chief Executive of the Verband kommunaler Unternehmen, the German Association of Local Utilities.

“I intend to profile CEEP as the main actor for the modernization of public services in Europe”, explained Mr Reck during the General Assembly. “Through benchmarking and peer review, CEEP members are in the best position to refurbish the services they manage.” A special attention will be given in the coming years to the development of Digital Infrastructures to support public services modernisation, in particular public administration. “There is a clear Digital gap in public administration and CEEP will contribute to fill in that gap”, emphasised Mr Reck.

Milena Angelova (Secretary-General of BICA, Bulgaria), Filippo Brandolini (President of HERAmbiente, Italy) and Tom Beattie (President of CEEP UK, United Kingdom) have been elected as Executive Vice-President of the association.

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Hans-Joachim Reck (President), Milena Angelova, Tom Beattie and Filippo Brandolini (Executive Vice-presidents). Photo by Elmar Thyen.

Following the presentation by Mr Jean-Claude Juncker of the Commission’s ‘Investment Plan for Europe’, CEEP General Secretary, Valeria Ronzitti said:

“The plan presented by the European Commission focuses on the key sectors for future growth in Europe. The EU will grow thanks to investments in fields such as energy, transport, broadband, healthcare and education.”
 
“The plan puts forward the right instrument. CEEP has been calling for a long time for such a ‘European Fund for Strategic Investments’. We welcome that the European Commission had the courage to propose it, and we hope that its efficiency will be high enough to make it a permanent instrument in the European governance.”
 
“The plan is accompanied by the right governance tools. The contributions by the Member States to the EFSI will not be counted in their ‘Stability and Growth Pact’ assessment.”
 
“But even if the plan presented is a step in the good direction, this can only take shape if each Member State commits to contributing to the guarantee scheme during the December Council meeting. Private investment can only flourish if based on sound public finances and re-launched public investments in infrastructures. Otherwise the plan will never create its extremely highly ambitious leverage effect and will only remain a 21 Billion € guarantee that the EC and EIB were able to put together.”

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“A good start for the new Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker, ‘president of social dialogue’”

The European Social Partners met for the first time with Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen.

On this occasion, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti emphasised the need to strengthen the role of social partners in the macroeconomic governance of the European Semester. “CEEP is committed to be the messenger of its members for the effective and efficient implementation of the Country specific recommendations at national level. The European Commission needs to give us the means to do so.”

Bringing growth back is also a priority for CEEP. “As social partners, we are committed to share the responsibilities with the European Commission to bring growth back to Europe while reinforcing the European Social Model” also explained Ms Ronzitti. “The social dialogue is a key tool in order to reach that goal”, she concluded.

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