The European Commission published today [4 March 2020] its proposal for an EU Climate Law, establishing the legal framework for achieving climate neutrality by 2050. This new legislation should serve as the backbone to realise the EU net-zero climate targets and prepare a fair and effective climate strategy, emphasised in the EU Green Deal.

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

“CEEP supports the ambition of the Regulation for an EU Climate Law by the European Commission to correctly link policy measures from all sectors of the economy to achieve the ambitions laid out in the Green Deal. Whilst we welcome the intentions of the Regulation, CEEP regrets the lack of connections to important sectors across the economic value chain in Article 3 to achieve this ambitious climate transition.”

“CEEP has been calling upon the Commission to conduct a proper Impact Assessment for the entire EU Climate Law. We welcome the fact that there will at least be such an Impact Assessment for the EU targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions for 2030, including all types of greenhouse gases beyond CO2 emissions.”

“As EU Social Partner, CEEP is committed to supporting the Commission on its mission to include and engage all citizens to play an active part of the climate transition: no transition will take place without the acceptance of society, and public services and SGIs are key enablers to include everyone in this transition thanks to their proximity with citizens.

Representing at EU level providers of public services and of services of general interest, CEEP brings together a broad-range of sectors, such as energy, transport, housing or waste management, which are at the heart of the climate transition and contribute to solutions supporting the EU ambitions for a more sustainable, economically viable, socially fair and environmentally friendly transition.

The European Commission published today [5th February 2020] its communication laying out its plans regarding the future review of the EU Economic Governance. Kicking off a consultation process that will last until the end of the year, this communication takes stock of the achievements and shortcomings of the current EU Economic Governance framework.

Reacting to this first communication of on the topic, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

For years now, CEEP has been a vocal promoter of a review of the Stability and Growth Pact and of the overall EU economic governance. We therefore welcome today’s launch of the consultation process by the European Commission. Today’s announcement should kick-off a broad and constructive conversation on how we could, together and in full transparency, improve the rules governing the EU economic governance.”

“The EU is faced with numerous challenges, such as supporting the digital transition or addressing climate change and its consequences. CEEP believes that adapting our economic governance with a more flexible approach is now more than needed, and that Member States should be further encouraged to invest and to adopt growth-friendly fiscal policy. More flexible fiscal rules should be one of main tools to use in order to reach that goal.”

“With its members, CEEP will actively contribute to the discussion, and calls the European Commission to keep his promises and deliver on this file. This consultation will be an important barometer to judge the commitment of this European Commission to the other institutions, social partners and other stakeholders.”

Today [22nd January 2020], the European Commission presented its communication “Shaping the Conference on the Future of Europe”, laying out the contribution of the institution to the debate. This communication is a direct answer to the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 15th January 2020.

One of the flagship proposals of the 2019-2024 legislative term, this Conference on the Future of Europe aims at giving a new impulse to the European construction and bring the EU closer to citizens. Running for two years, the Conference should lead to proposals for institutional reforms to make Europe stronger, more democratic, more efficient more transparent and with a greater capacity to act.

Reacting to those first contributions, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, said:

“We welcome the joint ambition of the European Parliament and of the European Commission to organise a broad and far-reaching Conference on the Future of Europe. Building up on the record participation at the 2019 EU elections, this Conference should further give back ownership and trust about the EU project to citizens by involving them directly.

“Following the publication of the European Commission’s proposal, the European Council should now also put forward its own position. Only a genuine inter-institutional approach, involving all institutions, consultative bodies, social partners and the civil society across Europe, could fulfil the ambitions and expectations put in this initiative. The Conference on the Future of Europe should not be an exercise ‘by the EU Bubble for the EU Bubble’.”

“CEEP will closely monitor the upcoming discussions setting up the format and organisation of the Conference. With our representativity and the mandate it brings us, social partners have a legitimate place in the Conference. We therefore call on the genuine and proper participation of social partners in the governance of the Conference, as well as in the events organised in this context at national, regional and local levels.

Today [14th January 2020] the European Commission released the first proposals under the “100 days priorities”, notably the investment pillar of the Green deal and the 1st phase consultation of the social partners on minimum wage as an integral part of the Communication on building a strong social Europe for just transitions.

As a first reaction to those initiatives CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti commented:

“We welcome that the European Green deal investment plan and the EU just transition mechanism were published on the same day. To hope achieving the high level of ambition of the green deal we need the right funding attached to it, both in terms of support to infrastructures with the Investment Plan and in terms of investment in people with the Just transition Fund. For all this to be sustainable we also need a clear social roadmap as employers cannot be left alone in anticipating and managing transitions. In this regard, we strongly welcome the fact that the communication on social Europe also addresses transitions because employers and workers will face many of them beyond the environmental one. Everything is interlinked and we hope to keep seeing this comprehensive approach also in the future concrete proposals. Not only at EU but also at national and local level.

Apart from this general support, however, we can already express concerns:

“While welcoming the proposal for a just transition fund we wish to issue an early warning as to make sure local and regional actors have the capacity on the ground to benefit from these new 3 pillars architecture and to avoid complexity. To further improve the outreach of the new fund we call on the Commission to rely on National Public Investment banks and on their unique knowledge of structural needs and possibilities for investing at National level.”

“We also believe that Social dialogue and collective bargaining should have been identified, in the first stage consultation on minimum wage, as the first and foremost solution to foster adequate and fair minimum wages in Europe. We believe social dialogue is insufficiently identified as the key solution for all Member States and CEEP will make sure this important role is highlighted in its response to the consultation.”

On Thursday 12 December 2019, CEEP held the fourth edition of its Public Services Summit. The whole-day event took place in Brussels, at the European Economic and Social Committee. On this occasion, CEEP welcomed, amongst others, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), MEPs Katrin Langensiepen and Anna Cavazzini, as well as various speakers from the European Commission, European Parliament, trade unions and civil society.
The event was opened by Rainer Plassmann, CEEP President, and Karl-Heinz Lambertz, who highlighted together the EU institutional renewal, the need to act on the key priorities for citizens, as well as the role of public services and services of general interest in this process.

Ahead of the event, David Maria Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, prepared a statement for the Public Services Summit. Emphasising that “public services are the backbone of our societies”, President Sassoli highlights that “we need to ensure that everyone has access to affordable and high quality public services, that both provide for our individual needs and make our communities stronger”, calling for proper funding and investment, as well as recalling the principle of “access to services” from the European Pillar of Social Rights. You can read the whole statement here.

Panel 1: A Fair, Competitive and Sustainable Social Partnership

The first morning panel of the Public Services Summit dealt with the important issues of Social Dialogue and the EU social agenda. The panel was composed of Milena Angelova, CEEP Vice-president, of Jörg Tagger, Head of Unit for Social Dialogue of the European Commission’s DG Employement, MEP Katrin Langensiepen, vice-chair of the EMPL committee and Lina Carr, ETUC confederal secretary.

Milena Angelova insisted on the need to design policies and reforms that are able to bring together competitiveness, the transition to a climate neutral economy and fairness in the labour market. She welcomed the work of the Juncker European Commission to strengthen social dialogue, and called for Ms von der Leyen to further strengthen social dialogue through fundings, by the ESF and for joint actions of social partners.

Jörg Tagger presented the achievements of the Juncker commission to support social dialogue, including the initiative on the new start for social dialogue. He also presented the major new initiatives of the EU commission including the EU framework for minimum wages, the binding measures for pay transparency and the future work on unemployment benefit schemes. He concluded by reiterating the commitment of the European Commission to support social dialogue.

MEP Katrin Langensiepen addressed the importance of agreeing on a Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) that would help address poverty and social exclusion in Europe. She expressed how important public services are in Europe to help address exclusion and tackle inequalities.

Finally, Lina Carr expressed the strong attachment of ETUC to the implementation of the Pillar of Social Rights and mentioned that the new Commission should work on the implementation of the remaining principles, putting a specific emphasis on the principle for fair wages in Europe. She  called for a ‘socialisation’ of the European Semester and for further reinforcing the social policy aspects of the EU economic governance.

Panel 2: Public Services and SGIs for a Green Deal

In light of the European Commission’s freshly published Green Deal on 11 December, keynote speaker Stephen White, policy analyst at DG ENV, explained the Commission’s full engagement and focus to deliver the expectation of the Green Deal agenda over the next four years. In this discussion, the panel highlighted the vital role of Public Services and SGIs in achieving a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 in a sustainable way.

Mr Brandolini, Vice Chair of CEEP stressed the importance of ensuring that the new Green Deal respects the economic, social and environmental dimensions, and that these are placed at the very heart of European policy making, across all sectors. In particular, the discussion raised the issue of social acceptance for this climate transition and the danger of civil upheavals if this new deal is not just and feasible for all EU citizens.

Mr. White concluded that the only way to meet this challenge is for all actors, institutions, cities and communities to engage. As representatives of public organisations, we stand ready to ensure that this transition leaves no one behind.

Panel 3: Public Services, SGIs and the EU Industrial Strategy

The 2019 Public Services Summit’s first afternoon panel welcomed Ruth Paserman, General Advisor in the Cabinet of Valdis Dombrovskis, Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee and MEP Anna Cavazzini (Greens, DE). The debate was extremely constructive, and panellists accurately brought to the table the key aspects that must be reflected upon when discussing a joint industrial strategy for Europe.

Ms Paserman kicked off the discussion bringing a strong message regarding the importance of cooperation amongst Member States. She highlighted the fact that given the challenges we are about to face – such as digitalisation, demographic transition and climate change – we must join efforts towards the strengthening of the European industry as a whole. In this context, she pinpointed that to make a successful transition towards a circular economy and to establish a well-functioning European single market, public services are indispensable.

President Luca Jahier opened his intervention welcoming the new Commission’s strong beginning and progressive agenda. Mr Jahier believes that we are facing enormous challenges and that the only way to overcome those is to seek for the opportunities that they will bring alongside them. Furthermore, he stated that Europe must take the lead in this process and be pioneers since the very conception of innovative products all the way until their production and distribution.

Finally, MEP Anna Cavazzini delivered a very consistent contribution, emphasizing the centrality of public services and services of general interest for the successful implementation of an industrial strategy as well as the Green Deal, which are inseparable processes. Ms Cavazzini said that in order to properly undergo the industrial transition ahead, citizens must be able to conceive a long term-vision and for that they need to rely on a stable political framework as well as have access to high-quality affordable public services.

Panel 4: The State of Democracy in Europe

The concluding panel of the day addressed the state of democracy in the EU, and brought around the table Jacek Krawczyk, President of the Employers’ Group of the EESC, Petros Fassoulas, General Secretary of the European Movement International (EMI), and Tanja Rudolf, Advisor to the Director-General for Communication at the European Parliament.
Opening the session, Ms Rudolf presented the campaign of the European Parliament ahead of the May 2019 elections, which focused on 3 principles: a clear vision and narrative, the financial constraints, as well as the need to build connections.

Mr Krawczyk addressed the specific contribution of the EESC and of its Employers’ Group, highlighting both the actions undertaken (at EU and at local level) and the need to make the ‘business case’ for the EU, as a stable environment to boost support and democratic participation, including from businesses and entrepreneurs.

Finally, Mr Fassoulas presented the activities that were undertaken by the EMI in 2019, specifically highlighting the Democracy Alive Festival, as well as some key outcomes ‘Listen to Europe’ survey. This survey, conducted by the EMI in 2019, highlights a widespread lack of support for democracy, as well as a sense of disempowerment and alienation regarding the future. Mr Fassoulas also highlighted the need for pro-democratic forces to join forces to counter negative perceptions and drive changes.

Today [11 December 2019], the European Commission has presented the long-awaited Green Deal for Europe. CEEP welcomes this proposal: as climate change is happening, Europe needs to act now.

CEEP particularly highlights the necessity to recognize the vital role of Public Services and Services of General Interest (SGIs) as key actors in this climate transition, addressing the challenges of digitalisation, the social and the economic aspects. Valeria Ronzitti, General Secretary, commented on the proposal: “The success of the Green Deal is Europe’s last chance to fight Climate Change, and its success will depend on the integration of a well-balanced approach towards a sustainable development. Placing at the very heart of the policy-making the economic, social and environmental dimensions is precisely where services of general interest are located.”

In the framework of the EU Green Deal, CEEP calls more specifically for:

  • The need for strong and well-balanced climate policy-making: in light of the new Climate Law, and supporting the ambition to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, CEEP highlights the wide-ranging challenges of climate change across different sectors and countries, affecting each differently. It should be therefore understood that “one size does not fit all”: it will be crucial to ensure legislations from different sectors do not conflict with previous existing policies and are in harmony to achieve efficiently our climate goals.
  • Successful integration of mitigation and adaptation policies in the EU Green Deal: it is vital to consider the adaptation of our economies and the resilience of our infrastructures. Action must simultaneously handle other environmental challenges such as water availability or biodiversity, and CEEP welcomes the new EU Biodiversity Strategy and the Zero Pollution Action Plan.
  • The key role of Public Services and SGIs in safeguarding social infrastructures in Europe: in this highly intensive climate transition, we welcome in the EU Green Deal the attention given to citizens and communities. Public Services and SGIs are in direct contact with their users and understand the importance to leave no one behind in this transition.
  • A sustainable financing plan with a long-term vision: Boosting financing to climate-friendly solutions and transforming the European Investment Bank towards the first Climate Bank is a vital step to accelerate the climate transition. Public Services and SGIs promote economic growth and employment in Europe by providing essential services (communications, water, energy, waste treatment, transport, etc.) and their contribution is crucial to support the competitiveness of our industries.

With the positive vote of the European Parliament on the new European Commission, the EU is now set to enter its new institutional cycle on 1 December 2019. With 461 votes in favour, the new European Commission has gathered a broad support from all sides of the European Parliament. CEEP welcomes the outcome of the vote, which puts an end to instability and provides the College of Commissioners with a stable majority.

With its focuses on an EU Green Deal, on making the economy works for the people and the EU fit for the digital age, Ursula von der Leyen and her College of Commissioners will address important issues for the future of Europe.

Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, commented on the new European Commission:

We welcome the broad support of the European Parliament to the new European Commission today, which confirms the entry into office of Ursula von der Leyen and her College of Commissioners on 1 December. Building up on the outcomes of the Juncker Commission, the priorities identified by President von der Leyen will help the EU to face the triple transition: decarbonized, global and digital. Now is the time to effectively deliver on those promises and ensure that the EU remain a beacon for peace, prosperity and sustainability.”

“Employers and providers of public services and services of general interest will be instrumental to bring to life the priorities of the new European Commission. Climate change and the EU Green Deal, reconnecting the social and the economy, making Europe fit for the digital age: public services and SGIs, active in sectors such as healthcare, education, housing, public transport, energy, telecommunications or water, are at the heart of all those policies.”

“As the cross-sectoral social partner representing providers of public services and SGIs, CEEP supports the proposed approach to bridge EU decision-making and the reality of enterprises, workers and citizens. This College of Commissioners will need to be inclusive and recognise the role of social partners to succeed. Building up on the practice initiated by the Juncker Commission to consult social partners on any initiative having an impact on growth and job creation in a broad sense and our integration into the debates to shape the future of Europe. In that regard, the Conference on the Future of Europe will play a central role and we look forward to further discuss with President von der Leyen and her College of Commissioners on how they intend to associate social partners to that initiative.”

Today [21 November 2019] CEEP, European cross-industry social partner representing employers and providers of public services, holds the final dissemination conference for its the project “Social services in European cross-industry Social dialogue: towards a strong and deeper involvement”.

Co-funded by the European Commission, this CEEP project was co-organised with the following national social services organisations from across Europe: UDES – French association of social enterprises, UNISOC – Belgian national employer organisation for non-profit organisations, and ALAL – Lithuanian association of local authorities. It aims at providing a better understanding of how social dialogue is organised in social services, focusing on the situation in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Romania.

In her opening remarks, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, emphasised the importance of social services and of social dialogue, and how they can support each other. “The aim of this project is three-fold: it raises political awareness about the key role played by your services to ensure the stability of the EU economy and citizens’ participation in the social and economic life”, said Ms Ronzitti.

She continued:It also is a major contribution to further raise the involvement of social services in cross-industry social dialogue. Social dialogue provides means and solutions to cooperate with institutions, both at EU and at national level. And social services have their place at the table, when the EU must strive for more balance between economic and social.”

The main purpose of the 21 November Final Conference was to discuss and promote the outcome of the project, which are presented in the following study and report (also available in Bulgarian, French, Hungarian, Lithuanian and Romanian).

Today [7th November 2019], Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, addressed the Macroeconomic Dialogue at political level, in the presence of, amongst others, Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank President, Mário Centeno, Eurogroup President, and Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission Vice-President for Social Dialogue and the Euro.

Addressing the role of education and training in facing the challenges of digitalization, demographic transition and climate change, Ms Ronzitti stressed:

  • The central role of public services and services of general interest in the European economy:Despite the generalized economic slowdown, the service sector is currently the “silver lining” of our economy. Public services and services of general interest are in this context essential for the welfare of citizens and play a major role in maintaining wage stability and household consumption.”
  • The need for better coordination: “CEEP welcomes the joint policy debate organised by the Finnish Presidency, bringing around the same table the Economic and Financial Affairs Council and the Education and Youth Council on 8 November. Such courageous initiative should help to identify pathways to address the existing investment gap in education infrastructure.”
  • The current gaps in investment in social infrastructure: “The report of the High-Level Task Force on Investing in Social Infrastructure in Europe ‘Boosting Investment in Social Infrastructure in Europe’ identified a gap of EUR 15 bn in social infrastructure. We see two pathways to address this issue: public funding will be indispensable, while there is also a great potential to introduce alternative financial models, merging private and public funds.”

Today [16th October 2019], Milena Angelova, CEEP Vice President, and Valeria Ronzitti, General Secretary, addressed the Tripartite Social Summit (TSS). In the presence of Antti Rinne, Prime Minister of Finland, Ms Angelova thanked both President Tusk and President Juncker for their commitment and dedication to social dialogue for their last TSS.

Highlighting the challenges and priorities for employers of public services and services of general interest, and how they can contribute to a “competitive, fair and sustainable Europe”, Ms Angelova said:

  • On the central role of public services in the European economy: “Public Services promote economic growth and employment in Europe by providing essential services. They contribute substantially to the fight against climate change and, thanks to their quality, to the competitiveness of the European industry.”
  • On the need for investment to support the industrial transformation: “Today’s industrial policies must link many elements: innovation, investment, skills and decarbonisation. CEEP has been constantly warning about the need for tremendous investments in digitalisation, automation, robotisation and artificial intelligence in order to have an impact on productivity and competitiveness. We promptly need new investments in physical and social infrastructures and in skills and competences to foster real productivity gains, create more jobs and pay better wages.”
  • On sustainability and inclusiveness at the core of all policies: “All the policies that we devise today can only be successfully implemented if sustainability is placed at their core. To ensure the social feasibility of environmental policies it is important that these transitions are inclusive and do not leave anyone behind.”

 Ms Angelova also emphasised the added-value of social dialogue and called for a proper and genuine cooperation between employers and trade unions: “It is our shared responsibility to anticipate and equip the workers with appropriate skills, so that they can face the necessary transitions with confidence. Employee training is an investment and not a cost.”

CEEP also presented during the Tripartite Social Summit the outcomes of its most recent Pulse of Public Services. You can find the report here.

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