In February, the European Parliament ENVI Committee (Environment, public health and food safety) has published a briefing document from the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies on the ‘European policies on climate and energy towards 2020,2030 and 2050’ in reaction to the finalized Clean Energy Package and the EU decarbonization commitments. This paper presents an easy and clear overview of European policies on climate and energy towards the next upcoming decades. In this context, CEEP is committed to keeping the conversation on the decarbonization process of our European economy between the EU institution and our members active as public services and SGI providers are daily actors in this climate transition. We believe, only with joint actions and through a cross-sectoral approach, we have a realistic chance to tackle Climate Change.
At CEEP, we gather members from the whole economy, including sectors such as health, transport, communications, environment, waste, water, education, housing, local administration and energy. The last one is on the front line when addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction. However, as the EU actions are impacting the whole economy, and seen the broad actions required to substantially reduce GHG emissions, all CEEP members are concerned and we are dedicated to highlighting their expertise and strategies both at local and European level.
The EU has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by at least 20% by 2020 and aims to reduce by at least 40% by 2030. The briefing document describes how the previously agreed legislative files will enable the EU to achieve its commitments for 2020, which were agreed in the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the challenges that Europe must face in order to attain its targets for 2030 agreed in the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, this briefing document also presents the proposed roadmap to 2050, in which the EU can achieve its targets in different possible ways in this decarbonization process. The briefing covers topics such as ETS, effort sharing decision, renewable targets, energy efficiency, LULUCF, CCS, climate change adaptation strategies, financial investments. However, other related EU policies for reducing GHG emissions for the transport sector or circular economy, are not covered by this paper.
In brief, the Policy Department calls out to the EU Institutions and Member States to expand their vision on tackling Climate Change and take their climate action at a global level. This could be achieved by reinforcing its capacity for climate diplomacy and strengthening its geopolitical relations by shaping its foreign, trade, development, aid and security policies accordingly, as well as by planning conflict prevention strategies. The pressure from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report in 2018 clearly states the tremendous dangers of a global average temperature above 1.5 C°.
Therefore, we positively receive the call for joint actions to a climate-neutral economy including more energy efficiency, the deployment of renewables, greener and safer mobility, more competitive industry and circular economy strategies.
Yesterday 21 February, the European Economic and Social Committee placed the first stepping stone on the way to the European elections of 23-26 May 2019, with the ‘Civil Society for rEUnaissance’ event.
Bringing together, on the same stage, representatives of social partners and of civil society, inspirational figures including climate activist Greta Thunberg, and institutional leaders such as Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the line-up of the event was a clear signal that we are not dealing with the classic “business as usual” in Europe today. During the event, all speakers made clear that the challenges awaiting us in the coming months are numerous, and that all will have to be done to ensure participation during the upcoming elections. Between the digital transformation and its impacts on labour markets and the provision of our services, the call to bring answers to the human causes of climate and environmental changes and the ageing demographics, it is unlikely that any of the 28 Member States can bring solutions to all those issues by themselves. Some form of European response will be needed, and that is what we, as European citizens, will be called upon to vote.
Representing providers of public services and SGIs, CEEP clearly holds some of the tools to answer those challenges and contribute to the European project. Our members are active in sectors which are of prime importance for the daily life of our citizens. Without affordable, efficient and effective public services and SGIs, such as education, healthcare or energy, how would the EU society look like? At a moment when ‘sustainable’ is on everyone’s lips, we need to clearly recognize public services and services of general interest as instrumental for this sustainable future, bringing together environmental, social and economic concerns. And to act accordingly, in order to promote social and territorial cohesion, as well as upwards convergence for citizens and enterprises.
CEEP, just like the other EU cross-industry social partners, has a clear role to play in the coming months, to make sure the European values and our social-market economy prevail in May. Many other opportunities are awaiting us up until the elections and beyond, where we will make sure our key priorities, such a fair and predictable level-playing field for all SGIs, an active and living social dialogue, an attractive investment environment for our infrastructures, and a European democracy supported by cohesion and subsidiarity, are well taken into account.
On 19 February, 2019, the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (or “INTA Committee”) adopted a Draft Motion for Resolution supporting the Juncker Commission’s intention to re-open international trade agreement negotiations with the US authorities. Although in favour of rules-based international trade and clearly endorsing the report on this point, CEEP remains prudent as to the direction next steps should take. The European Parliament’s plenary is expected to adopt this report, making it the Parliament’s official position, in March 2019, whilst the European Council shall likely do the same roughly at the same moment. CEEP strongly recommends that both institutions should keep the safeguard of European citizens’ basic interests and their legitimate concerns at the top of the list of priorities.
Several provisions within this report deserve attention. For example, on content-related aspects of these talks, the exclusion of agricultural products from the negotiation scope seems appropriate to protect European public health. But even more important are procedural guarantees and conditions on the process of negotiations. In particular, the INTA Committee’s clear stance in requiring a broad consultation process involving the civil society and a sustainability impact assessment as well as setting the condition that talks will only be triggered with a lift of current US tariffs on aluminium and steel (and shall be interrupted, should any new tariff be decided by the USA) are sine qua non preconditions to any step forward in this direction.
CEEP considers that poor performance of the European Commission’s negotiators in ensuring transparency and providing credible guarantees in terms of accountability were key in TTIP’s failure and anyway unfit to protect and foster the development of EU citizen’s common interest. Moreover, should this path be opened and notwithstanding the positive elements described above, more shall be needed in the negotiating mandate to adequately protect public services. Such provisions could include, inter alia, guarantees on public procurement regulation (access to tenders), specific provisions for small-scale local utilities (e.g. as derogatory regimes reducing administrative burden or providing legal protection), recognition of Services of General Interest (SGIs) as a legal notion… Much still needs to be done to ensure public acceptance on any new project – an obvious conclusion considering the narrow majority of this week’s vote in the INTA Committee (21 votes in favour, 17 against and one abstention).
CEEP’s Policy Officer for Public Services Alexis Le Coutour (firstname.lastname@example.org) remains at your disposal for any further question regarding this matter.
The range of inequality levels prevailing in Europe is so wide that it is difficult to consider a “single European model”. There are today vast differences between and within the European Member States when we address the critical issue of inequalities in Europe. As for specific issues, these differences concern income levels, wealth levels and employment gaps. We witness major differences between regions which for CEEP are to be linked to an unequal repartition of key physical and social infrastructures in the European Member States.
CEEP always advocated that key enabling services such as energy, transport, housing, health, education… are a pre-condition to ensure citizens are geared up to face the major transformations our economies are going through. CEEP is particularly concerned by the impact of demographic-ageing, the digitalisation and the adaptation to climate change and a greener economy. All these changes bear the potential to aggravate inequalities if not managed properly. Public services and SGIs should be better supported through targeted investments to give us the tools to address inequalities. As of now we face major weaknesses in the delivery of these essential services. For education and training: there is a gap in education outcomes between individuals with different socio-economic backgrounds, which implies large amounts of wasted potential.
Participation in training activities reflects such inequalities and those with higher levels of basic skills proficiency are five times more likely to attend adult learning activities than low skilled individuals. For Health: the less educated and the poor are more likely to be in worse health and die prematurely than those in more favourable socio-economic circumstances. For example, individuals with lower levels of education have a lower life expectancy than the better educated across all European countries. Isolated territories with lack of transport infrastructures suffer from a lack of accessibility. The lack of provision for quality public transport can have a detrimental impact on social integration and employment. Finally, on Energy and more particularly energy poverty, today in Europe between 50 and 125 million people are unable to afford proper indoor thermal comfort.
Most EU countries have significant levels of energy poverty whilst the share of household expenditure spent on energy is rising in Europe, with increases more prominent in low-income families – whose expenditure increased by 33% between 2000 and 2014. The Romanian presidency of the Council put high on the agenda the topic of addressing inequalities and inclusive growth. CEEP will contribute to this debate by highlighting the critical importance of its members when addressing inequalities.
CEEP will participate next Thursday 28 February and Friday 1 March in a Kick-Off Meeting in the framework of the project “EQW&L – Equality for Work and Life”.
The EQ&WL project aims to define strategies and collaboration schemes which focus on Work-Life Balance, by promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships (PES, SMEs and social partners) and a nonstereotyped approach to Work-Life Balance. The project focuses on SMEs which represent those economic groups which offer more opportunities for women and face the greatest difficulties in implementing Work-Life Balance policies. Concrete tools which support this balance will be tested and then incorporated at EU level.
In the framework of this project, the concept of “Work-Life Balance” is understood in a broader way, namely as not being exclusively “women–centred”; it incorporates the encouragement of men participation in care duties as well as aspects of personal life which are not necessarily related to taking care of dependent persons.
EQ&WL will specifically address gender stereotypes and subconscious gender biases and will develop a business case for SMEs which invest in gender-balanced work-life balance policies, thus showing how these policies can benefit both workers and employers.
Therefore, the project is focused on three different levels:
- System: proposing and testing strategies which can be used to support persons entering the labour market so as not to be marginalised due to their work-life balance needs;
- Individuals: the new EQ&WL services will offer those people in search of a job the opportunity to recognise/address own specific work-life balance needs;
- Companies: SMEs which offer relevant employment opportunities for women but face more difficulties than bigger corporations in implementing work-life balance policies.
The project implementation is organised in six phases. Amongst those, the project start-up will take place next Thursday 28 February and Friday 1 March in Rome, Italy, in the form of a Kick-Off Meeting. Overall, the project is designed to maximize opportunities for cross-regional comparison of findings.
Do not hesitate to contact CEEP Project Officer Carlotta Astori for more information.
For the first CEEP Newsletter in 2019, I would like to begin by wishing you all a happy new year! For the EU and its citizens, 2019 will be a challenging and decisive year. The European elections, scheduled to be held on 23-26 May, will dictate the fate of Europe for the next five years, and probably beyond.
It is therefore also a crucial moment for CEEP, a moment to raise and shine, prepare the ground and influence future decisions of the EU legislator. The first steps of that work have already been completed: we have established our key priorities for 2019-2024 and started to engage with key stakeholders highlighting those messages. More will now need to be done, at all levels, to promote our commitment to shaping and leading the future of public services within the European project.
Indeed, through its members and their activities, as well as its involvement in activities at European level, CEEP has a lot to offer:. As cross-industry social partner, as THE representative of providers of essential services in daily contact with citizens, and as a network active across Europe, CEEP can directly contribute to strengthening the ownership of the European projects by citizens as well as the democratic dimension of the EU, and contribute to opposing populist discourses all over Europe.
In Brussels, in the capitals and in regions and municipalities, CEEP and its members will aim at discussing the achievements and shortcomings of the European projects, and the positive and negative effects on public services and services of general interest.
Whilst some CEEP sections are already engaging with their respective candidates at local and national level, the organisation of activities at EU level will ramp up in the coming weeks and months.
Events such as The Social Partners’ conference on 6 February, where the Social Partners’ Work Programme 2019-2021 will officially be presented, the DEMOCRACY ALIVE festival organised by the European Movement International in partnership with the European Parliament, the Tripartite Social Summit, and high-level events such as the Sibiu Summit and the EESC-organised “Civil society for rEUnaissance”, will be the opportunity for CEEP to highlight its messages, commitments and contributions.
We now intend to double-up on activities, in order to impact the discussions before the elections, during the process leading up to the appointment of the college of Commissioners and the establishment of the priorities for the next 5 years at EU level.
Let’s join forces for the future of Europe!
CEEP organised last Tuesday 22 January, together with UDES, the Third Steering Committee Meeting in the framework of the European Commission’s co-financed project “Social Services in European cross-industry social dialogue: towards a strong and deeper involvement”. The meeting was held in Paris, kindly hosted in the UDES premises.
The project, that started back in 2017, aims to increase the profile of social services at the European level within the remit of social dialogue. By collecting key information in 6 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Romania), this project has the objective of improving the knowledge of social services’ providers when it comes to social dialogue at the national level and to promote their better inclusion within the existing structures of social dialogue. The goals of the project are, therefore, not only to raise awareness about the importance of social services in social dialogue at the European and the national level, but also to create a long-standing network of social services active within the social dialogue.
During the Third Steering Committee Meeting, it was agreed by the participants that the project report – currently available in an interim draft – is to be finalised following the remaining project meetings to be held in the first half of 2019 and taking stock of the results of those.
The dates for the remaining meetings for the project were also determined. These are as follows:
- Paris Round Table Meeting – targeting Bulgaria and Malta: 29 March 2019
- Technical Training Meeting – targeting the 6 EU Member States on which the project focuses upon: 15-16 May 2019
- Final Dissemination Conference: 8 November 2019
During the meeting, the provisional structure and the setting up of the Technical Training Meeting were also discussed. This meeting will be the opportunity to gather representatives from SSGIs providers from the 6 target EU Member States and discuss with them the possibilities to overcome the fragmentation they are facing at the national level, taking stock of the process that led France and Belgium – two of the main partner countries – to build inter-sectorial umbrella organisations for multiple sectorial services to be represented.
The Third Round Table Meeting will be held on 29March in Paris and is organised by CEEP and UDES. The target countries for this meeting are Bulgaria and Malta. Should you wish to register, do not hesitate to contact CEEP Project Officer Carlotta Astori.
CEEP together with its European cross-sectoral social partner counterparts are fully engaged to tackle in their work programme 2019-2021 the difficult question of the future of work. In particular, the topics of digitalisation and skills development have been carefully selected as key priorities for negotiations for the year 2019.
The world of work is transforming at a rapid pace and these new transitions call for decisive action at all levels. Many opportunities lie ahead to improve the quality of working lives, expand choice and provide new flexible instruments at workplace level, address the skills mismatches and labour shortages, tackle the gender gap, and much more. Yet without decisive action we risk heading for a world that widens uncertainties for employers and workers. In a recently-published report, the Global Commission on the Future of Work of the ILO recommends to address the following priorities:
- Increasing investment in people’s capabilities
- Increasing investment in the institutions of work
- Increasing investment in decent and sustainable work
Public services’ employers are deeply impacted by technological advances – artificial intelligence, automation and robotics – which will create new jobs and transform the existing ones, but those who lose their jobs in this transition may be the least equipped to seize the new opportunities. Today’s skills will not match the jobs of tomorrow and newly acquired skills may quickly become obsolete. The greening of our economies will create millions of jobs as we adopt sustainable practices and clean technologies, but other jobs will disappear as countries scale back their carbon- and resource-intensive industries. Changes in demographics are no less significant. Expanding youth populations in some parts of the world and ageing populations in others may place pressure on labour markets and social security systems, yet in these shifts lie new possibilities.
Social partners all over Europe need to seize the opportunities presented by these changes to create a brighter future and deliver economic security, equal opportunities and social justice – and ultimately reinforce the fabric of our societies. This topic will be high on the European Union’s agenda for the years to come. The Commission is preparing a high-level conference to take place in Brussels on 9 April to address all these issues, inviting social partners, governments at all level and civil society to debate and exchange solutions and practices. CEEP together with its members will identify and highlight the main challenges faced by public services’ employers and identify solutions and practices to be shared at EU level to accompany these deep transformations.
Since the vote of 23 June 2016 that ushered in the entire Brexit process, heated debates and long negotiations took place, all involved parties being well-aware of the tremendous impact of Brexit on livelihoods and businesses. CEEP also contributed to this debate by elaborating its vision of a future EU-UK relationship, protecting the common interest that public services’ providers have been enhancing throughout Europe for decades.
CEEP also warns against the risk of a so-called No-Deal Brexit, an option that can impossibly be excluded yet, but instead looms. This is particularly true after the vote by which the House of Commons rejected the Draft Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration on 16 January. On this one point, the EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, while speaking at the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee, observed that “while there seems to be a majority in the House of Commons opposing ‘no-deal’, [this] will not stop ‘no deal’ from happening, unless a majority for another solution emerges”.
As recognised European social partner and representative of public services’ providers across the EU, including the UK, CEEP is bound to promote the public interest they serve and be vocal in this debate. Brexit does not imply that and should in no circumstances whatsoever lead to a situation where all bonds across the Channel are stretched thin – let alone broken. Such a step, amongst other far-reaching consequences, would indeed, with crystal clear certainty, critically undermine public services’ ability to play their part in the service of citizens. Like other undertakings, companies providing services in the general interest (SGIs) are in desperate need of reliable supply of numerous goods and services – and in the case of EU and UK, such supply occurs across the Channel more than anywhere else.
CEEP therefore supports a Brexit that both respects the British people’s decision on one hand and the longstanding, deeply rooted links between mainland Europe and the United Kingdom on the other. It recommends the above-mentioned Opinion to decision-makers and citizens alike on both sides as a means and a possible path towards this aim.
CEEP’s Policy Officer for Public Services Alexis Le Coutour (email@example.com) remains at your disposal for any further question.
A major topic for European public services and for the quality of services they provide to European citizens, the needed reform of the legal definition of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the EU legal order has gained substantial recognition over the year 2018, not least through the efforts of CEEP and its partners.
Performing Public Services and Services of General Interest (SGIs) not only entails very specific conditions and obligations, it is also operated in many cases by small- or very small-scale structures. Most of these companies “cannot be considered an SME if 25 % or more of the capital or voting rights is directly or indirectly controlled, jointly or individually, by one or more public bodies”, the European Commission’s Recommendation 2003/301/EC states.
As a result, many small-scale enterprises fall out of the remit of public policies specifically designed to address the specific needs of private-sector SMEs – despite sharing their condition of e.g. scarce financial and human resources or limited administrative capacity. The situation is all-the-more damaging as, per definition, all these companies provide services vital to economic activity and social cohesion alike, from public health to water and energy supply. Moreover, the number of such structures amounts to about 25.000 EU-wide (to-be-compared to about 23 million private-sector SMEs…). In other words, enlarging the legal SME definition to them, thus enabling them to benefit a range of SME-specific policies, tools and frameworks, should lead to a hardly perceptible impact on other SMEs, if at all. A comprehensive overview of arguments in favour of tackling this loophole as well as a summary are respectively accessible here and here.
Whereas this shortcoming of European legislation was widely “below the radar screen” of EU politics, CEEP’s efforts in raising public awareness appear to have a first impact by rallying official support from important decision-makers across EU institutions. This support took the shape of, e.g. a breakfast discussion organised in the European Parliament’s premises, a conference officially hosted and attended by the President of the European Committee of the Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz, a Resolution of the European Parliament stressing the need for action from the EU executive body (see Art. 16), a CEEP response to a public consultation organised by the European Commission…
The quite specific timing of this European legislature’s end made an actual reform of the SME legal definition before European elections of May 2019 impossible. The decision will therefore logically depend on the future political majority in the European Parliament and the Commission based upon it. The political ground, however, is prepared and CEEP will remain committed towards this necessary step.
CEEP’s Policy Officer for Public Services Alexis Le Coutour (firstname.lastname@example.org) remains at your disposal for any further question.