Newsletter

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On Wednesday 22 July 2020, the European Commission’s DG Home launched an EU-wide public consultation to gather views on new actions that could be taken at EU level to promote the integration and social inclusion of migrants and people with a migrant background. The Commission also launched in parallel a call for applications  to set up an expert group composed of persons with a migrant background to participate in the development and implementation of migration, asylum and integration policies.

With both the consultation and the expert group, the Commission seeks to gather input from a broad range of stakeholders including national, regional and local authorities, civil society organisations, social and economic partners, businesses, education and training providers, academia, cultural and sport organisations, migrant organisations and private individuals. The results of the consultation will contribute to the development of the Action Plan on integration and inclusion announced in the Commission’s work programme.

The public consultation will be available in all EU official languages until 21 October 2020. The call for applications to become a member of the Commission expert group on the views of migrants will be open until 21 September .

Involving migrants, asylum applicants and refugees is essential to make the policies more effective and better tailored to needs on the ground. Well-managed migration to Europe contributes to our societies, culture and economy. The integration and social inclusion of people with migrant background is crucial for cultural exchange and community cohesion. It also helps address skills gaps, labour shortages, and to boost economic performance overall. Currently in the EU, too many migrants face challenges in terms of unemployment, lack of educational and training opportunities, and limited social interaction within their broader communities – challenges which adequate public policies could turn into opportunities. The responsibility for integration policies lies primarily with the Member States. However, the EU has established a large variety of measures to incentivise and support national authorities but also local and regional authorities and civil society in their efforts to promote integration. This includes dedicated funding and instruments addressing social and economic cohesion across Member States. In 2016, the Commission launched an Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals, which included fifty actions to promote integration. The von der Leyen Commission will put forward an Action Plan on integration and inclusion by the end of October 2020, whose content will be based on the results of both the consultation and the expert group. This topic is high on the agenda of the European Social and Economic Partners, that were called upon in the past months to start defining a strategy to renew their commitment in integrating refugees in the economic recovery phase from COVID-19.

The Statement that was published last 6 May 2020 following the meeting with Commissioner Johansson on the role of migrants in the way out of the pandemic will soon be followed by further joint actions in the field of economic migration, on which the EU social and economic partners expressed their mutual will to cooperate in the months to come. In this sense, a follow-up discussion amongst the EU economic and social partners and the European Commission on the renewal of the partnership for integration is foreseen for the 7 September 2020.

Should you wish to receive any information regarding CEEP activities in the field of migration and integration, or a general overview of the Commission’s initiative, do not hesitate to contact CEEP Project Manager Carlotta Astori.

In 2006, a number of existing directives on gender equality in the field of employment were ‘recast’ and consolidated, in the Recast Directive, also called Equal Pay Directive. The Directive was complemented in 2014 by a Commission Recommendation on Pay Transparency (2014/124/EU). At the beginning of 2019, the Commission ran two public consultations on equal pay and gender equality at large in the EU.

CEEP took part in these consultations and stressed that there was no need to revise the Equal Pay Directive or to introduce binding pay transparency measures at the European level. Nevertheless, European Commission President von der Leyen announced that she will table binding measures on pay transparency in her political guidelines in September 2019 as well as in the Commission Work Programme. CEEP welcomed the Commission’s choice to address the problems with unequal pay through the 2014 Pay Transparency Recommendation.

The Member States and the national social partners should choose themselves to incorporate the proposed actions they find appropriate in their ongoing work on equal pay, with full respect to the specific national regulation and practice. CEEP stresses that the proposed actions, such as pay audits, job evaluations and classification criteria of work of equal value falls in the remit of the Member States’ and the national social partners’ competence and are not issues to address at the EU level. Pay should be transparent but CEEP wants to emphasise that all policies that touch upon wage setting are and must remain national policies and hence a competence of the Member States and the national social partners.

There is a broad variety of wage systems in the Member States, ranging from strict salary scale in some Member States and/or sectors to individually differentiated pay in others. The Commission can in this regard provide guidelines and follow-up the actions taken at the national level as a voluntary support to Member States and the national social partners. CEEP acknowledges that further progress in some cases might be needed when it comes to the application of the legislative framework. To tackle the gender pay gap, the Commission can continue to monitor Member States compliance with the equal pay principle in the context of the annual European Semester exercise as well as contribute to tackling the root causes, in particular gender stereotypes and segregation on labour markets. It is also essential to increase the availability, the quality, and the affordability of care, in particular childcare infrastructures to encourage higher levels of female employment.

Thus, CEEP welcomes the Commission announcement that it will revise the Barcelona targets. The Commission should work together with Member States to ensure that the targets are fully reached. We also suggest that the Barcelona targets consider the affordability and quality of childcare facilities.

One of the main focuses of the Public Service Board’s work is to change the so-called “SME definition”. For reasons of proportionality, a large number of EU legislative regulations provide for facilitations or support for SMEs. Small and medium-sized enterprises in which public authorities have a direct or indirect holding of more than 25 percent are not considered as SMEs according to the European Commission’s definition of ownership. This has far-reaching consequences, for example in the allocation of subsidies, so that these companies cannot take advantage of the planned administrative relief. In addition, the Corona crisis has shown that such an exclusion can cause major problems for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular and requires urgent reform.

For this reason, CEEP has repeatedly and very vehemently addressed the problem of this definition to the Commission in the context of the Corona crisis. In the coming weeks, we will continue to address this problem in the Public Service Board by preparing a modified version of the position paper on the definition of SMEs and by continuing to maintain a close exchange with stakeholders. In this context, all members are invited to submit concrete examples where public SMEs have been disadvantaged under the current SME definition.

CEEP has also focused strongly on Commission initiatives in the field of competition law and will continue to intensify its work in the coming months. This mainly concerned initiatives on the revision of State aid rules and on the use and re-use of data – especially from the public sector. Legal clarity in State aid regulations is vital concerning the high level of investment needed for SGEI providers to fulfil their mission at the public’s satisfaction in the long term. The revision of State aid rules will therefore remain a key competition law priority in the coming months.

One line of conflict for the public sector that has arisen relatively recently in the context of competition policy is the digitisation initiatives of the Commission. It is precisely these most recent initiatives that are intended to (re)regulate the transfer and use of data, particularly in view of the conditions created by digitisation. Consequently, they may have a far-reaching negative impact on the public economy.

The subject does not only concern competition law, however, but is of great relevance beyond the individual Boards of CEEP. For this reason, we have discussed and commented on competition-relevant areas of digitisation in a working group which is not attached to a Board. In the coming weeks, we will continue this work, particularly with regard to the consultations on the New Competition Tool and the Digital Services Act. You can find here CEEP’s response to the roadmap on European Data Spaces.

Dear readers,

After months of intense debates to shape the appropriate EU answer to the COVID-19 crisis, EU leaders have taken significant steps during the last 2 weeks, agreeing last Tuesday (21st July) on the upcoming 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and the dedicated recovery instrument to support the Member States most hit by the ongoing pandemic.

However, further interinstitutional negotiations will be needed to bring to life the EU budget and the recovery instrument. In a resolution voted on 23 July, the European Parliament expressed its readiness to withhold its consent if the deal agreed by EU leaders is not improved upon, on issues such as the lack of clarity regarding the future repayment plan for the Next Generation EU, the need for an immediate introduction of “a basket of new own resources which must enter the Union budget as of 1 January 2021”, a call for “ending all rebates and corrective mechanisms”, and the weakened tie between EU funding and the respect of the rule of law. The European Parliament wants to engage immediately in constructive negotiations with the Council to improve the proposal.

Once this interinstitutional agreement will be found, it will be up to Member States to prepare and present their respective national recovery plans, which will then be assessed by the European Commission and the European Council.

Just as we did intensively contribute to the path leading to the MFF and Recovery Plan as currently agreed by the EU institutions, CEEP will engage with its national sections and members across Europe and its partners from the ‘SGI facing COVID-19’ Platform to jointly call for the proper presence of public services and SGI in those plans, as well as the genuine involvement of social partners in the process.

In parallel, CEEP and its members are reflecting on a longer-term vision and, to highlight and push forward this refection, we publish today the contribution of Jean-Eudes Moncomble, Chair of CEEP’s Sustainability Board.

In the meanwhile, CEEP Newsletter and Newsflashes will take a one-month recess and will be back in September.

I wish you a good read, and a safe summer!

Kind regards,

Valeria Ronzitti

Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world, with the EU at risk of a second wave, four major uncertainties are hanging over Europe and the world to shapeour future and the place of public services and of services of general interest in this history-defining moment.

The first uncertainty is health: whilst the pandemic that hit Europe at the beginning of the year appears to be under control, health uncertainty remains crucial because there is no treatment or vaccine to date and no one knows how the virus will behave. We cannot take the risk of a second, more devastating health crisis, leading to new economic and social crises in addition to the first one. The first objective is therefore to rebuild and increase Europe’s short-term and long-term resilience. It is therefore all the organisations, businesses, associations and local authorities that have enabled Europe to overcome, sometimes in very difficult conditions, the first wave of the pandemic that must be helped to get back into a position to cope with a possible second wave. In concrete terms, this means investments to be realised, purchases to be made, stocks to be replenished and professionals to be recruited. The role of organisations in charge of services of general interest in the fight against the pandemic has been decisive: this is obvious for the carers, in the “first line” in the fight against the Covid-19; but the “second line” consisted in particular of those who ensure the continuity of energy supply, transport or telecommunication services, waste collection and treatment, water supply and sanitation, not forgetting funeral services, which are unfortunately overstretched. Services of general interest are one of the pillars of European resilience and must urgently be strengthened so that Europe does not collapse in the face of a second disaster, health or otherwise.

The second uncertainty is economic. Europe is facing a historic economic recession of which we are certainly only just beginning to feel the first effects: the recession is spreading to almost all sectors of the economy with the immediate consequence of a fall in employment and an impressive increase in unemployment and therefore insecurity, in a particularly difficult financial context and it will be difficult to avoid a major social crisis. Important supporting policies have already been put in place and strong recovery policies are being put in place. The sums involved are colossal, commensurate with the stakes. A major question remains: who will pay? This question is central; we can note a change in the opinions of experts and decision-makers who consider that part of this debt must be borne by central banks so as not to weigh excessively on the accounts of states and local authorities, businesses and individuals, the former being tempted to shift the burden to the latter via taxation. CEEP does not have the expertise to take part in the debate to determine which technical solution should be implemented, but it insists on the imperative need not to deteriorate the capacity to invest and consume of all economic actors for purely ideological reasons. The situation is exceptional, the solutions must be exceptional and the European Union and the Member States must show innovation and courage, far from ideology.

The third uncertainty is political. The scale of the crisis seems to have overshadowed major environmental issues such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity. It also seems to have relegated to the background the effort to modernise the European economy, spurred on by the development of digital technology. However, these two major challenges – the environment and the modernisation of the economy – did not disappear during the pandemic. A crucial issue then arises, which is also an uncertainty: will Europe be able to reconcile economic recovery with environmental and digital transition at an acceptable economic and social cost? There is a fine line between, on the one hand, a return to the world of the past through a generalised relaunch with the sole objective of restoring growth and employment and, on the other hand, a relaunch solely targeted at the sectors that are driving the ecological and digital transitions, some of which even see an opportunity to increase speed.. Yet the pandemic has not changed the inertia of our economies: everyone knows that accelerating transitions has a cost, whether in terms of stranded assets or destroyed jobs. And the dramatic rise in unemployment that has only just begun is the terrible realization of the price to be paid for accelerating transitions. Policy coherence is essential, not least in order to move towards the reindustrialisation that many are calling for. CEEP must support the idea of taking the difficult path which, whilst resolutely pursuing the transitions that have been initiated, will not pay the high price of the disappearance of entire sections of our economies with its unacceptable social consequences. At the heart of the environmental and digital transitions, CEEP can contribute to the reflection that must make it possible to reconcile the preservation of traditional economic sectors and the development of those that seem to respond to new societal and civic aspirations, through a coherent and reasoned approach, far from any ideology.

The fourth uncertainty is societal: in order to fight the virus, most citizens have fundamentally changed their behaviour; many have discovered teleworking, different lifestyles with regard to distribution channels or transport. A certain awareness seems to have formed around the idea that the development of the past was unsustainable. The crisis has provoked, especially in Europe, the return of citizens to values such as solidarity or social cohesion. Choices – such as, for example, overly accountable management of health systems – are clearly being called into question. Many citizens have discovered or confirmed their appetite for a more local organisation of their lives, in terms of work or trade. What will remain, once the crisis is over, of these new behaviours which have contrasting consequences on the objectives of the European Union: we should not underestimate the strength of the systems to return to their starting point. CEEP shall support and encourage this movement towards values that are moreover close to those of services of general interest. Through their proximity to citizens, CEEP members can play a decisive role in observing the behavioural changes that constitute one of the levers for a successful environmental and digital transition and in defining the responses to be provided.

On 8 July, the European Commission has published its long awaited new Smart Sector Integration Strategy as well as its new Strategy for Hydrogen. CEEP has welcomed the approach to publish such highly interlinked topics at the same time and therefore provide a potential to stimulate the development of energy efficient technologies and accelerate the decarbonisation process to reach for a climate neutral Europe by 2050.

It is also welcomed that many of our suggested proposals in CEEP’s Input to the Smart Sector Integration in regard to use of electricity, renewable and decarbonised gases, buildings, industry, flexibility option, such as smart grids, and local operators have been considered in this proposal. Before the publication of the strategies, CEEP organised two online meetings with Kitti Nyitrai, member of the cabinet of Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, and with Stefaan Vergote, Head of Unit Strategy and economic Assessment at DG CLIMA, who are both responsible in the development of the strategies. The meetings were led by CEEP Energy Task Force chair Elmar Thyen and vice-chair Alain Taccoen: CEEP was able to advocate our calls for a holistic concept that includes both electricity, renewable and decarbonised gases as well as innovative heating and cooling solutions for the industry, energy and transport sector.

CEEP believes that a one technology solution will not solve the complex challenges to reduce emissions whilst remaining energy efficient, affordable and secure, but through a significant increase of cross-sectoral cooperation to maximise the true potential of each sector and application.

The Smart Sector Integration Strategy is now planned to be the foundational layout of the green energy transition and is based on three main pillars. First, a ‘circular’ energy system with a higher energy efficiency goal will promote the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle in practice, local energy sources, waste to energy as well as the principles of the Renovation wave. Secondly, a greater direct electrification of end-use sectors using more directly electricity produced from local renewable energy sources. And thirdly, promotion for clean fuels, including renewable hydrogen and sustainable biofuels and biogas. The Commission proposes a new classification and certification system for renewable and low-carbon fuels. Under these three pillar, the Commission put together a concrete action plan divided into six chapters with 38 concrete policy proposals and guidelines for Member States. These include the revision of existing legislation, financial support, research and deployment of new technologies and digital tools, guidance to Member States on fiscal measures and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, market governance reform and infrastructure planning, and improved information to consumers. The aim is that the strategy will serve as a compass that supports Member States to direct them in their efforts to decarbonise in the same direction.

The Hydrogen Strategy is the first EU wide strategy promoting the use of hydrogen in the energy system and addresses how to transform this potential into the existing sectors, through investments, regulation, market creation and research and innovation. It explains that the main priority on how to produce hydrogen is the use of solar and wind energy, but also considers for the short- and medium-term low-carbon hydrogen. The aim of this strategy is to set out a gradual scheme to slowly and effectively introduce hydrogen as a storage and energy production option into the energy system:

From 2020 to 2024, the aim is to install at least 6 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU, and the production of up to one million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.

From 2025 to 2030, the aim is to make hydrogen an intrinsic part of the integrated energy system, with at least 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and the production of up to ten million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU.

From 2030 to 2050, the aim is to have renewable hydrogen technologies which are well matured in the energy system and can be deployed at large scale across all hard-to-decarbonise sectors.

In support of this strategy, the Commission has launched the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance with industry leaders, civil society, national and regional ministers and the European Investment Bank. The Alliance will build up an investment pipeline for scaled-up production and will support demand for clean hydrogen in the EU.

The next step for the Commission is the evaluation of the planned Sustainable and Smart Mobility strategy, regarding which an open consultation has already been published. This will additionally strengthen the sector integration development in Europe. Also, the Commission intends to invite interested parties to debate in a large dedicated public event at the end of this year and to contribute to the public consultations and impact assessments that will inform the preparation of the follow-up proposals  envisaged for 2021 and beyond as mentioned in the key action of the documents. (see original document in the links above).

After the summer break, CEEP will kick off the discussion again and invites its members to join its Smart Sector Integration Webinar on 15 September from 10h00 to 11h00 with confirmed Panel speaker Antonio Lopez-Nicolas, Deputy Head of the Renewable Energy Unit at DG ENER.  Further information on how to log in and the draft agenda will be shared with you in due course.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has already led to multiple social and economic consequences. In recent weeks, the European Commission has launched numerous packages of measures and legal initiatives to combat this crisis. CEEP played an active role in this process and provided input on various occasions.

In addition to numerous position papers, discussions and initiatives – such as the “SGIs facing COVID-19” platform – CEEP has expressed concrete positions on individual topics. In this context, we had addressed to the European Commission, and particularly to Executive Vice-President Vestager and Commissioner Breton our interrogations regarding the scope of the Temporary Framework of State aid for Services of General (Economic) Interest and the need to reconsider the current SME definition, which are particular urgency for the Public Service Board.

The particular problem that Services of General (Economic) Interest are facing in this crisis is recognized by the European Commission and our general concerns are shared. With regard to the scope of the Temporary Framework on State aid, we meanwhile have certainty that all aid schemes of the European Commission apply to both the public and private sectors. This is a great success, as no distinction is made in the ownership structure. Instead, the aid measures are focused on the respective sector that needs aid.

As the service sector was and is particularly affected by the crisis, we are pleased that the European Commission has set the right priorities. Aid programmes such as the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme by the European Central Bank and the measures of the Temporary Framework of State aid can be mentioned in this context. Regarding the current SME definition, the Commission has taken note of our concerns. However, the SME aid already in place will not be extended to public SMEs facing the current crises. There is, nonetheless, the possibility for Member States to include LPSEs in their national aid schemes for targeted SME aid. The Public Service Board is currently collecting examples of companies affected by the SME definition in order to address this issue specifically to the Commission. You are invited to send your examples to katinka.kraus@ceep.eu.

On 1 July, Germany will start its Presidency of the Council of the EU for the next six month, taking over from Croatia. In its first presentation of the upcoming priorities, and despite the COVID-19 crisis, the German government remains committed to important priorities such as climate protection and the digitalisation.

Amongst those, one of the ambitions of the German Presidency will be to make mobility in Europe more modern, more innovative and more sustainable, building up on the lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer, responsible for transport, outlined the priorities for the mobility sector, building up on the work of the Croatian Presidency and the Commission’s adjusted work programme. The approach to mobility of the German presidency will be relying on three pillars: sustainability, mobility and digital transformation. A focus will be put on three main initiatives scheduled for release in the last quarter of the 2020: the Strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, ReFuelEUAviation -Sustainable Aviation Fuels, and FuelEU Maritime-Green European Maritime Space.

Meanwhile in Germany, whilst Brussels is still waiting for the new Hydrogen Strategy (to be published on 8 July), the German government published its National Hydrogen Strategy, with a financial support of 7 billion Euros. The German presidency is also expected to finalise the discussions on the ongoing legislative files, including the measures to speed up the completion of the Trans-European transport network (TEN-T), the Connecting Europe Facility, rail passengers’ rights, the Eurovignette proposal and many other priorities outlined by the Croatian Presidency. The German government also put forward the intention to develop a European pandemic contingency plan for freight transport. Lacking so far Europe-wide arrangements for key transport infrastructures and modes of transport in the event of pandemics, introducing uniform standards and procedures has been identified by the German government as a priority.

CEEP believes that managing the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis whilst handling climate change will ask for strong commitments from EU Member States. Increasing the share of public transport is in our views the best decarbonisation and e-mobility strategy for urban areas and cities. Public transport is sustainable, clean, and reliable. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, public transport operators maintained their services and were vital for facilitating the transport of staff and patients to healthcare facilities.

In the aftermath of COVID-19, public transport operators will require a considerable financial input. These investments will be vital as the public transport sector is a key driver for employment. Public transport is also a basic requirement for successful economic structures. To safeguard the development and the decarbonised transition of this sector, CEEP calls for a continued and strong political environment and long-term legal security, as well as better access to European funding for urban transport. CEEP intends in the upcoming months to strengthen the image of public transport as expressed in our position to the Year of Rail 2021 and on the upcoming EU Strategy for smart and sustainable mobility.

On Thursday 25 June 2020, CEEP took part in the European Commission’s hearing of the EU Social Partners’ consultation meeting on the “Pay Transparency Initiative”.

Continuing the discussions started during a bilateral meeting between CEEP and Commissioner Dalli on 9 June 2020, this consultation is paving the way to the implementation of President von der Leyen’s political guidelines, where binding pay transparency measures are one of the flagship initiatives. It also follows the evaluation of the Recast Directive in March 2020, which stated that limited progress had been made on enforcing the right to equal pay and increasing pay transparency by Member States, and started a public and a social partner consultation on new measures to achieve pay transparency in Europe.

This issue is very high on the agenda of the social partners as this initiative is likely to have an important impact at work place level.

Equal pay between women and men has been a founding principle of the European Union since the Treaty of Rome in 1957. In 2006, a number of existing directives on gender equality in the field of employment were ‘recast’ and consolidated, together with case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, into a single Directive 2006/54 (the Recast Directive). The Recast Directive provides the right to equal pay for the same work or work of equal value, i.e. the comparison between different occupations of equal value. The Directive was complemented in 2014 by a Commission Recommendation on Pay Transparency (2014/124/EU).

Considering the persistent gender pay gap, and the scarce progresses in enforcing the right to equal pay, a forthcoming initiative is now being discussed, building on previous work by the Commission. It will complement other Commission initiatives focused on tackling the root causes of the gender pay gap, such as the adoption and implementation of the Work-Life Balance Directive 2019/1158, sectoral initiatives fighting stereotypes and ensuring better gender balance and the proposed Directive on improving gender balance on company boards of the large EU listed companies.

CEEP stressed during this meeting that the only effective way to tackle wage differences between women and men is to address the root causes, in particular gender stereotypes and gender segregation on labour markets, education systems and in society in general. It was also emphasized that these underlying causes to the gender pay gap are to be taken into account following a holistic approach when analysing, as well as addressing, the gender pay gap. CEEP also reiterated in this sense that employers do not believe that more regulation on pay transparency is the solution.

The meeting started with a morning session of separate employers/trade unions discussions, followed by a joint session in preparation of the official hearing sessions with the Commission. The afternoon session was welcomed by the chair, Mr Jörg Tagger, Head of Unit of the Social Dialogue Unit in the DG EMPL, followed by a presentation from the Commission (delivered by Ms Irena Moozova, Director Equality and Union citizenship in the DG JUST) of the planned initiative.

Should you wish to receive any information regarding the inputs employers shared with the Commission, or a general overview of the initiative, do not hesitate to contact CEEP Project Manager Carlotta Astori.

Dear readers,

Whilst most of the EU Member States have lifted the lockdown measures implemented to slow down and limit the spread of the COVID-19, and with EU internal borders slowly reopening, a sense of normalcy is coming back in the life of EU citizens.

However, this impression should not overtake the EU decision-making process: the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as its continuous and accelerating spread around the world, will have dramatic economic and social consequences. Building up on the proposals of the European Commission for an adapted Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 and the Next Generation EU recovery instrument, EU leaders need to take quick and decisive actions to put Europe on the path to recovery. The upcoming Summit of the European Council on 17 and 18 July might end up as ‘make-it or break-it’ for responding to the COVID-19 challenge and, ultimately, will be the starting bloc for the future of the EU.

This message was at the heart of CEEP key messages at the Tripartite Social Summit on 23 June. In presence of Andrej Plenković, Croatian Prime Minister, the Ministers of Labour of the incoming German and Portuguese Presidencies, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, CEEP delegation highlighted its expectations, for EU leaders to find a quick agreement on the MFF 2021-20207 and the Next Generation EU, and to anchor a long-term and forward-looking EU recovery. CEEP also emphasises the importance of putting employers and providers of public services and services of general interest at the heart of the recovery.

Anticipating the future is also at the heart of the EU social partners’ framework agreement on digitalisation which was officially signed on Monday 22 June by EU Social Partners. Supporting the digital transformation of Europe’s economy and its implications for labour markets, the world of work and society at large, this agreement supports the successful integration of digital technologies at the workplace, investment in digital skills, skills updating and the continuous employability of the workforce. The agreement enables employers and unions to introduce digital transformation strategies in partnership in a human oriented approach at national, sectoral, and workplace levels, including on the modalities of connecting and disconnecting and respect of working time rules and appropriate measures to ensure compliance.

And, in the week of the UN Public Service Day, which was celebrated on 23 June, all those issues are resonating in a different way. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, public services and services of general interest remained operational. At no point was the provision of water, energy, education, housing, transport, telecommunications, administration services and waste management structurally questioned. The only exception, which is a result of years of underinvestment in several Member States, was the healthcare services which struggled to cope with the scope of the crisis.

Our lobby efforts are now concentrated on making sure that the next MFF 2021-2027, as well as the Next Generation EU recovery instrument, will support boosting strategic counter-cyclical investment to promote upward convergence and foster a resilient social market economy, ensuring that all social and physical infrastructures provided by CEEP members will be properly funded.

The coming weeks will, in any case, be more decisive than ever for the future of the EU.

I wish you a good read.

Kind regards,

Valeria Ronzitti

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