Today [10th July 2019], Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, discussed the role of “Cohesion Policy in achieving the EU’s strategic objectives”, and how providers of public services and services of general interest can support the Cohesion Policy. The event, “Together for a strong Cohesion policy 2021-2027”, was organised by the European Committee of the Regions’ Cohesion Alliance (gathering decision-makers and stakeholders, including CEEP, supportive of a strong Cohesion Policy).

Focusing on the importance of a strong Cohesion Policy for the construction of a Social Europe and the part of public services’ providers in this, Ms Ronzitti said:

  • Member of the Cohesion Alliance, CEEP represents providers of services of general interest which are vital to most social and economic activities. They are therefore instrumental in reaching the EU’s objectives in general and play a part that is necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The characteristics of the provision of public services as an activity – such as affordability, universality, consistency – can inspire the efficiency of policies fostering social and geographical cohesion.”
  • “We expect that the link between the European Semester and the EU Cohesion Policy will lead to a better and more effective programming exercise, and to better and more focused investments. We hope that this link will help achieve progress through implementing the investment-related aspects of the country-specific recommendations, as part of the future of the European Semester.”
  • “Cohesion Policy is designed to make European societies more equal, more stable and more coherent from a social perspective. The contribution of the Cohesion Policy to turning the Pillar of Social Rights into a tangible reality is obvious. Implementing the Pillar of Social Rights should therefore go hand in hand with the Cohesion Policy’s overall funding. Upward convergence should remain a strategic objective of the Union, and Cohesion Policy has a key part to play in it.”

Today [3rd July 2019], Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, discussed the issue of “Sustainable growth: skills and smart work organization in the digital era” at the High-level Conference Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

In an interactive session with the EU Social Partners, Mrs Ronzitti presented CEEP’s key messages on the importance of innovation for social dialogue and public services in Europe:

  • Addressing innovation and the platform economy: “Many of the elements brought up in the speeches during the conference should positively inspire the Social Partners’ current negotiations on digitalisation and highlight the need to put workplace innovation at the top of the agenda. Platforms could also further be seen as a “way of functioning”, and not as a business model.”
  • Addressing the need of digital infrastructures: “However, besides the need to plan for the future and to develop innovative solutions to address our challenges, the emphasis should also be put on the need to develop digital infrastructures, especially in rural areas. Digitalisation should be inclusive and benefit every single citizen with a particular attention to those living in remote areas.”
  • Addressing the adaptation of education systems: “It is now urgent to reform our education systems and create a genuine ‘digital-friendly’ learning environment. Digital literacy should be included within the cursus, with the aim of improving STEM skills for every student.”

During the meeting of the General Assembly on 27 June 2019, CEEP members have adopted an opinion “A Sustainable Climate Strategy for Europe: Acting Now! – Statement on Climate “For Sibiu and Beyond”“.

Our key messages are the following:

  • Global warming is a major risk and climate policies must be developed as part of a sustainable approach.
  • A prerequisite for success is the social acceptability of these policies, which requires greater equity and democracy, particularly at the local level.
  • CEEP members manage essential infrastructure and provide SGIs that contribute to well-being and competitiveness; their proximity to economic actors makes them key players in climate policies.
  • The EU Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 needs to recognise that role and put “enablers” of sustainable climate policies at its centre.

This morning [27 June 2019], Rainer Plassmann, Chair of CEEP SGI Task Force and Head of Personnel and Organisation and of the Staff Unit “Services of General Interest” at Stadtwerke Köln GmbH, was elected President by the General Assembly of the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services and Services of General Interest (CEEP).

Mr Plassmann will bring to CEEP his extensive experience on European affairs and on the workings of CEEP as former General Secretary of the association between 2000 and 2008, and chair of the SGI Task Force since 2011.
He has been active in Brussels for over 20 years and has always been a vocal defender of public services and services of general interest, with a wide network of contacts throughout Europe.

Rainer Plassmann’s mandate will run until December 2020. He will work in close cooperation with CEEP Presidential team, together with Vice-Presidents Milena Angelova (CEEP Bulgaria), Filippo Brandolini (CEEP Italy) and Tom Beattie (CEEP UK).

On 8 May, ahead of the Sibiu Summit, CEEP presented its contribution to the EU Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, to be adopted during the June Council meeting. Our input, prepared on the basis of the CEEP Key Priorities 2019-2024, relies on 4 pillars:

  • A Europe of values and freedoms,
  • A fair digital transformation,
  • A sustainable and inclusive climate strategy,
  • A Europe which leads by example.

You can find our contribution here.

On 8 May 2019, the EU Social Partners (CEEP, ETUC, BusinessEurope and SMEunited) have presented a joint statement on the Rule of Law. You can find it below and here (in PDF).

On 3 April 2019, the European Commission launched its Communication on “Further strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union. State of Play and possible next steps” (COM (2019) 163 final). It thereby invited the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council and the public at large to reflect on how strengthening the enforcement of the rule of law can make an essential contribution to the future of the European Union.

The European Social Partners fully agree that our democracies must be safeguarded and call on EU leaders to include the upholding of the rule of law in the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024. They also stress their full commitment to supporting the rule of law as one of the foundations on which the European project and the democratic values it stands for are built.

The Rule of Law is essential for the proper functioning of the European Union, its institutions, its Single Market, labour market and society. It is an important guarantee for European citizens, employers and workers. The attractiveness of Europe as one of the best places to live, work and do business is highly dependent on a coherent and reliable application and enforcement of our common set of rules and values.

Member States joined the Union sharing the same commitment to the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and for the rule of law. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail. A sustainable Europe must improve the means of all public powers for reporting, monitoring and being accountable. This is necessary to win people’s support.

The rule of law also requires effective, independent and impartial institutions (e.g. courts, inspection services and bodies) and mechanisms of redress so that these rights are justiciable and their legal protection can be ensured. The longstanding role of social partners in setting, applying and enforcing these rights, particularly through social dialogue and collective bargaining, should be fully recognised.

The European Social Partners therefore fully agree that the rule of law must be respected, better explained, promoted and applied across Europe. We remain fully committed to defending our common European rules and values and to speaking up for their protection across the continent through an enhanced dialogue with social partners and civil society at large.

We are willing to participate in appropriate social partners’ consultations regarding the Communication and to support the European institutions in their efforts to strengthen the rule of law across Europe.

On the 10 and 11 of April 2019, in Bucharest, CEEP and the EU cross-industry social partners exchanged views with EU Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs during the informal EPSCO meeting. The ministers’ meeting was focused on the instruments and solutions found by Member States to ensure gender equality in the European Union.

Highlighting the challenges and priorities for providers of public services and services of general interest, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti said:

“There is a strong economic case for supporting women’s careers in the labour market. Today, the skills and competences that women acquire through education are not sufficiently used and risk becoming a waste of resources for the EU as a whole.”

“CEEP is particularly concerned by sectoral segregation of the labour market. We know this situation particularly vividly in several public services sectors, in healthcare and education where women are overrepresented and transport where we face the opposite trend. Actions should be taken to address stereotype gender norms in education and career choices.”

“We need to provide concrete instruments for allowing work-life balance. Member States need to invest into social infrastructures and formal care services. The examples from Ireland or Portugal go into the right direction. In parallel, Social Partners must use the full potential of collective bargaining to design innovative flexible working arrangements. Indeed, leave arrangements are not the panacea for better labour market participation of women.”

“Finally, the use of non-legislative measures such as Gender Budgeting can be increased. Fiscal policies and administrative procedures can be structured to address gender inequalities. This will promote accountability and transparency in fiscal planning, increase gender responsive participation in budget process and advance gender equality.”

At the high-level conference ‘The Future of Work: Today. Tomorrow. For All.’ today [9 April 2019], Milena Angelova, CEEP Vice-President, and Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, highlighted the key challenges faced and solutions found by employers and providers of public services and services of general interest. A special focus was put by CEEP speakers on the need to anticipate change to bring answers, for workers and citizens.

Milena Angelova, CEEP Vice-President, said:

“Labour shortage and skills mismatches are the most serious problem that the EU employers and public services providers face nowadays, causing a loss of 2% of EU GDP and impeding the creation of sustainable jobs. This, combined with demographic ageing and brain drain, produces worrying divergences between Member States.”

 “We need a reform of education systems, driven by a genuine paradigm shift in the goals and functioning of the education sector. (…) Reliable anticipation of the supply and demand of skills and of the future structure of the EU labour market are key, together with making vocational education and training a first-class option for learners and fostering permeability between VET and higher education. It means also an increased demand for STEM, digital and soft skills, and great needs for the upskilling and reskilling of employees.”

In the concluding plenary panel, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

“The question of coping with demographic ageing, digitalisation and decarbonisation and their consequences in enterprises all over Europe will be our top priorities. Today confirmed that they concern everyone equally. For CEEP members, something that resonates particularly vividly is the necessity to create a labour market that is able to anticipate change.”

“A key message of CEEP today is that Europe needs to build multi-stakeholder approaches linking together enterprises, education and training providers, social services, local and regional government and social partner organisations. With mutual trust, respect and joint actions we will successfully cope with the transformations, leaving no one behind.”

Today [5 April 2019], in Bucharest, CEEP and the EU cross-industry social partners exchanged views with EU Ministers of Economic and Financial Affairs during the informal ECOFIN meeting.
Highlighting the challenges and priorities for providers of public services and services of general interest, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti said:

“CEEP would like to thank Minister Teodorovici and the Romanian presidency for having answered to a long-standing call by the Social Partners to be invited to informal ECOFIN meetings. As social partners, we are at the center of shaping economic and social policies and facilitating reforms; that is why we believe we can bring real added value, and call on the future Presidencies to follow this example.”

“CEEP welcomes the agreement reached at technical level on the future Capital Markets Union, which bears great potential in granting better access to public markets for SMEs. We believe that more should be done to help Member States achieve more competitiveness and convergence through the coverage of the costs of some relevant structural reforms and investments.”

“We are strongly concerned by the existing divergences between Member States, which are particularly noticeable following the enlargements of 2004, 2007 and 2013. CEEP remains a strong supporter of well-designed stimulus programmes and quality-targeted investments.
We believe they are a key ingredient in ensuring social and territorial cohesion in Europe. More should now be done to ensure that structural funds become more flexible and effective to counter the worrying trend of widening regional disparities.”

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