Newsletter

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CEEP’s project LABOUR INT 2 is currently coming to the end of year one of implementation. CEEP is starting to plan its activities in the field of migration and integration, as well as of gender for the beginning of 2020. Amongst the initiatives, three main items of information are relevant to be shared at this stage.

  1. LABOUR INT 2: 1st Expert Group on Skills and Migration (EGSM): Brussels, 14 February 2020

The first meeting of the Expert Group on Skills and Migration will be held in Brussels on the14 February 2020.The EGSM is an ad hoc working group that will gather twice over the 24 months of implementation of the LABOUR INT 2 project, to identify challenges, policy drivers and working tools to enhance the capacity of project partners to implement concrete actions for skills assessment, informal validation of skills and skills matching for a faster and more effective transition of TCNs to the Labour market. The group will capitalise on work already available at European level, and the work carried out by the first EGSM in LABOUR INT 1, and will focus on:

–   existing innovative practices for vulnerable groups;

–   challenges of TCNs’ skills assessment;

–   policy drivers for validation of skills of TCNs within a multi-layered integration strategy

–   concrete working tools to perform recognition of skills and skills matching adapted to the specific needs of local labour markets

 

  1. ERIAS vademecum questionnaires

In the frame of the ERIAS project, to which the work of LABOUR INT 2 is closely connected, EUROCHAMBRES and CEEP are gathering positive integration examples. To this purpose, together with the project partners, two questionnaires have been developed: one for enterprises (employers) and one for Third Country Nationals (employees). For TCN, stories from people who found a job and from people who started a business are welcome and the questionnaire is structured accordingly.

CEEP would be pleased to integrate positive examples that you identify amongst your target groups in the vade mecum and are at your disposal for any questions you might have.

The deadline for submitting the stories is end of February 2020.

 

  1. EU ministers in charge of gender equality (EPSCO) adopted Council conclusions based on our review of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA)

The European Institute for Gender Equality’s (EIGE) findings show that no EU country has yet fully implemented this blueprint for women’s empowerment, with issues such as ageing societies, migration and climate change bringing new challenges for gender equality.

The ageing population of the EU is increasing demand for long-term care, which impacts women most as they do the bulk of unpaid care work at home. Caring responsibilities keep 7.7 million women and about half a million men out of the labour market.

Migration has triggered a response focused on security and border control and significant effort is needed on integration. Around one in two people from a non-EU migrant background are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and half of migrant women are out of employment.

When it comes to gender equality and climate change, although women are more likely to adopt eco-friendly behaviour, key decision-making positions in the environmental sector are dominated by men: only a fifth of government ministers dealing with environment, climate change, energy and transport are women.

Read more in EIGE’s press release or see the Beijing+25 presentation.

This week, on Tuesday 17 December 2019, the Commission kicked-of the new Cycle of the European Semester with the publishing of the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS) – formerly called the Annual Growth Survey. The main feature of the document is the climate transition, which according to Paolo Gentiloni’s, Commissioner-designate for Economy, “is at the heart of our economic governance”.

Alongside that primordial goal, the Commission has established other main targets that will be guiding economic policymaking, such as social fairness, the promotion of macroeconomic stability and the strengthening and further deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. Another central aspect that has been strongly emphasized in the ASGS is the challenge of preparing the European economy for the digital age, which will necessarily imply not only heavy investment to secure a leadership position internationally, but also getting our employers and workers ready to face the multiple transformations that the labour market will be undergoing soon.

All of those guidelines are indispensable and will provide the very foundation behind the EU’s industrial strategy, which will focus on the fortification of our Single Market, boosting innovation, fomenting research and development and, consequently, generating productivity gains and enhancing our competitiveness.

Another remarkable component is the incorporation, for the first time, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into the European Semester, which reinforces the Commission’s commitment with social inclusion. Along the same lines, the ASGS also highlights the need to fully implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, which can have an extremely positive impact on the functioning of social dialogue, both at the national and the EU level.

In order to accomplish the Commission’s goals, all those capital features must work complementarily. The whole cycle of the European Semester is meant to provide support for Member States in the materialisation of those targets, especially given the current economic outlook, marked by subdued growth performances and particularly low interest rates.

Amidst a time of deep transformations, the EU Semester can be a fundamental coordination mechanism, ensuring stability and sound public finances, whilst concomitantly, stimulating the necessary investment in strategic fields. Therefore, its proper implementation is vital for the thriving of our Single Market and its pioneer sustainable growth model.

Beginning of December, the Finnish presidency of the Council circulated a “negotiating box” on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and own resources. 19 months after the Commission proposal and one year after the adoption of the European Parliament’s position, this negotiating box puts forward, for the first time, tentative figures for further Council discussions, notably a proposed overall level of €1,087 billion (1.07% of the EU’s GNI) for the next MFF.

This proposal is significantly smaller than what the Commission initially proposed. The budget has already caused controversy in the European Parliament. For Johan Van Overtveldt (ECR, BE), Chair of the Committee on Budgets, “the Finnish presidency proposal is well below Parliament’s expectations when it comes to meeting the Union’s commitments to investment, youth, climate and security”. The proposal also created opposition amongst supporters of increased cohesion funds in southern, central, and eastern states – who see it as a betrayal of the principle of redistribution in the EU, and insufficient to fulfil the European Commission’s agenda for a more ambitious union. But those on the other side of the argument are unhappy too. Germany and Member States comprising Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Sweden – view the budget as too large, as they do not want it to exceed 1 percent of GNI. (The Finnish presidency believes that, given these differences between Member States on the issue, the best it could hope for was to distribute discontent between them evenly.)

Since then, Commission President Von der Leyen unveiled the “Green Deal” to an extraordinary sitting of the European Parliament on 11 December. On 12 December, the European Council met with both climate and the MFF on its agenda. The European Council handed over negotiation duties for the next EU long-term budget to its president, Charles Michel, during the first round of the December summit on 12 December. EU Leaders did not discuss the content of the EU budget on 12 December at all.

The first day of the summit was overwhelmed by the climate discussion that ended up without an agreement, as Poland refused to sign up for the climate neutrality by 2050. However, the negotiation on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) could be instrumental in bringing Warsaw on board in June. There are strong concerns that the cost of the transition will be higher for some countries than for others.

President Von der Leyen said she will present the financial instruments of her Green Deal in January, including the Just Transition Fund and the European Investment Fund and advised Poland to look at the details of these initiatives. “But of course, it goes in parallel to the development of the MFF,” von der Leyen explained. “Clearly a significant part of the future budget will have to be earmarked to climate agenda,” Michel told the press, “a minimum of 25% is the proposal.”

The longer the MFF discussions continue, the longer the delay to the Commission’s implementation of its work programme from the beginning of 2021. France would like to reach a deal that will help President Emmanuel Macron justify the energy he has invested in the European project to a domestic audience with a view to national elections in March. Germany intends for its presidency of the EU, which will begin in July 2020, to focus on the many other challenges the bloc faces. There is a great weight of expectation on Charles Michel’s shoulders to find a way through this roadblock.

Dear readers,

Now coming to an end, 2019 has been, as expected, a year of change and new beginnings. The European elections, held in May, reshuffled the cards, with a new European Parliament and a new European Commission. A new leadership across the institutions, which now calls for building new connections.

When it comes to our main partner at institutional level, namely the European Commission, we look forward to working with President Ursula von der Leyen and her College of Commissioners on the 6 key overarching priorities clearly identified. In this context, it will be of outmost importance that the structure within the European Commission organised around those issues genuinely delivers a holistic and integrated approach to policy making.

The EU Green Deal, which is the flagship initiative of this new European Commission and was presented last Wednesday (11 December), is a clear example of this approach, putting forward proposals for environmental targets in a broad range of policy fields, as well as financial tools and instruments to smoothen the social consequences of the transition. Coordinated by Frans Timmermans, European Commission Executive Vice-President, the Green Deal will occupy a central place also in CEEP’s agenda.

Amongst the other initiatives to be rolled out by the European Commission in the weeks and months ahead, CEEP will also scrutinise the proposal for the Sustainable Investment Plan, the initiative on Fair Minimum Wages, the Industrial Strategy, and the Commission’s paper on the format for the Conference on the Future of Europe. On the CoFeE, CEEP is following the preparatory work carried by the join action of the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council, which will soon set up an Action Plan and agenda. Conceived as an open platform, the Conference aims to engage with different actors from the European and national levels. CEEP will insist that we, together with the other European cross-sector Social Partners, have an important voice in this project as we believe that the future of Europe cannot be built without a strong social dialogue.

All those topics were already on the agenda of our fourth Public Services Summit, which was held on 12 December at the European Economic and Social Committee. 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.

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 highlighted 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: it will be a priority for CEEP to make sure that the European Parliament in its entirety stands behind this very encouraging and right message from its President.

Four panels, addressing “A Fair, Competitive and Sustainable Social Partnership”, “Public Services and SGIs for a Green Deal”,  “Public Services, SGIs and the EU Industrial Strategy” and “The State of Democracy in Europe”, provided the opportunity to engage on the burning questions of the EU agenda and prepare us to face 2020.

Meanwhile, it is also time to take stock of the achievements of 2019, which was a year of transition. CEEP contributed to this transition, with pre-election activities both at national and at European level. After the elections, we built bridges with the new European Parliament to set up an Interest Group on Public Services and Services of General Interest, whilst contributing to the hearings of candidate-commissioners and engaging with the new College of Commissioners.

All those activities proved to be important opportunities to present our vision for public services and SGIs, and to highlight the contributions of our members to the EU socio-economic and democratic model.

We intend to continue to work along those lines in 2020. In the meanwhile, enjoy your reading, and we wish you all the best for the festive season. We will be back with a CEEP newsflash on 10 January 2020.

Kind regards,

Valeria Ronzitti

On 11 December, the European Commission presented the long-awaited Green Deal. CEEP welcomes the Commissions new proposal- As climate change is happening, Europe has a responsibility to act now. The new European Green Deal, a cross-sectoral European pact aiming for higher emission reduction targets, new climate policy laws, new financing and social transition mechanisms, has the potential to change climate policymaking in Europe and re-direct it to where it will be most needed.

In this context, 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. 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.

In the framework of the EU Green Deal, CEEP specifically calls for strong and fair climate policymaking. Considering the new Climate Law and pursuing the ambition to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, it is important to face the wide-ranging challenges of climate change across different sectors and countries, affecting each differently. Indeed, “one size does not fit all”: it will be crucial to ensure legislations from different sectors do not conflict with already existing policies and are in harmony to efficiently achieve our climate goals.

Another important aspect involves the 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. In this light, CEEP already welcomed the reviews and adjustments of past emission target strategies and the Commission’s new mitigation policies such as the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and the Strategy for Smart Sector Integration.

Public Services and SGIs also play a key role in safeguarding social infrastructures in Europe: in this highly intensive climate transition, CEEP welcomes 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 of leaving no one behind in this transition. The climate challenge must be met in a new context of awareness and demand for citizen’s involvement.

The implementation of the EU Green Deal will require a sustainable financing plan with a long-term vision. Boosting financing to climate-friendly solutions and transforming the European Investment Bank into 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.

At the 9th Subsidiarity Conference that took place in Rome on November 22nd, members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE) exchanged views on the role of local and regional level in EU decision- and policy-making. CEEP endorses a stronger voice for local and regional authorities within and towards the EU institutions in line with the subsidiarity principle, but also with the importance of carrying out public services missions in a way reflecting local needs and specificities, as provided for by Protocol 26 TFEU.

For several years already, widespread discussions have been taking place concerning the concrete shape and the impact of subsidiarity and proportionality. This debate first occurred within the “Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and Doing Less More Efficiently” and resulted in the Commission’s Communication on Subsidiarity and Proportionality. One of the discussion’s main conclusions is the recognition that regions and cities deserve a clearer say in EU policymaking. CEEP also joins the event’s organisers in stressing the need to ensure that regions and cities must have the effective capacity and the expertise to deliver their input in practical terms.

We thus clearly welcome the initiative “Input from political debates in regional parliaments” triggered by the CoR and CALRE aimed at strengthening the involvement of regional parliaments with legislative competences early on in the EU legislative process. The project may find useful synergies with the Regional Hubs project launched by the CoR in 2019, which enables 36 European regions to assess the effectiveness of a selected number of EU policies currently implemented, such as public procurement and air quality policies.

These projects, in CEEP’s eyes, also have the added value of paving the way towards more binding steps such as the “Conference on the Future of Europe” mentioned by President-elect Von der Leyen in her Political Guidelines. CEEP will closely follow and participate in this debate in the future.

In light of the past inter-institutional negotiations, CEEP has continued its efforts in promoting the messages of providers of public services and services of general interest (SGIs) on the recast of the Drinking Water Directive (DWD).

The Trilogue negotiations bring around the table the two EU co-legislators – EU Parliament and EU Council – as well as the European Commission, with negotiations progressing rather slowly so far.  The current state of play is that no agreement on any of the main topics of discussion (access to water, EDCs and microplastics, water leakage, information to consumers, materials in contact with drinking water) has been reached yet. On 27 November, COREPER I (Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union) discussed the item, ahead of the next Trilogue meeting on 3 December.

CEEP’s paper on the Trilogue recommendations on the Drinking Water Directive (DWD) summarises our position and identifies the main priorities and challenges yet to address. Both the European Parliament’s first reading position and the Council’s General Approach provide significant improvements that we support. We especially welcome the fact that the Parliament and Council substantially agree on a number of key points:

  • Strengthening the link with the Water Framework Directive – Art. 7-8
  • Introducing a risk-based approach with an appropriate division of responsibilities – Art. 7-10
  • The need for harmonised minimum hygiene requirements for materials and treatment chemicals in contact with water intended for human consumption – Art. 10a and 10b
  • Maintaining indicator parameters – Annex I
  • Maintaining the risk-based monitoring frequencies of the current Directive that were revised in 2015 – Annexe II
  • Maintaining the possibility for derogations – Art. 12a

CEEP’s overall stand favours the Council’s position, which presents more comprehensive proposals on three main topics of institutional trilogue discussion, with regard to the scope and focus of the Directive (Article 1, Article 14), the harmonised EU minimum hygiene requirements (Article 10 a, b) and the access to water (Article 13).

Should you require further information or would like to send your contributions, please contact Policy Officer Henriette Gleau (henriette.gleau@ceep.eu).

Dear readers,

On Wednesday 27 November, in its plenary sitting, the European Parliament expressed its support to the College of Commissioners presided over by Ursula von der Leyen, as well as to the political priorities identified. With 461 votes of support (which is 39 votes more than Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014), the von der Leyen Commission is now set for the new European Commission to start its activities on 1 December.

Building up on the outcomes of the Juncker Commission, the priorities identified by President von der Leyen in her Political Guidelines will support the EU to face the triple transition: decarbonised, global and digital. It is now time to effectively deliver on those promises and ensure that the EU remain a beacon for peace, prosperity and sustainability. This new EU institutional cycle should support bold ambitions for Europe, whilst ensuring the proper articulation between the EU, national, regional and local levels.

Setting up an EU Green Deal, ensuring that the economy works for the people, making Europe fit for the digital age: in this new institutional cycle, CEEP will make sure that employers and providers of public services and services of general interest are recognised as instrumental to bring to life those priorities.

As the cross-sectoral social partner representing providers of public services and SGIs, CEEP supports the proposed approach to better bridge EU decision-making and the reality of enterprises, workers and citizens. Social partners should be natural partners in that exercise, building up on the frequent consultation on any initiative having an impact on growth and jobs’ creation and their integration into the debates to shape the future of Europe. The Conference on the Future of Europe will play a central role, and we will engage with President von der Leyen and her College of Commissioners to ensure that the social partners are a part of that initiative.

One golden opportunity for CEEP to highlight its commitments to the EU integration and place its members at the heart of the discussions, will be the Public Services Summit 2019, which will be held on 12 December at the European Economic and Social Committee (Rue Belliard 99-101, in Brussels). Besides CEEP members, the event will bring together EU institutional leaders and decision makers, as well as representatives of EU associations. CEEP will welcome, amongst others, Karl-Heinz Lambert, President of the Committee of the Regions, Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee and Katrin Langensiepen, vice-chair of the Employment committee of the European Parliament. Now that the European Commission has officially been confirmed to enter into office on 1 December 2019, the event’s agenda will quickly find its final form and the names of the other confirmed guests will be announced soon.

We are now entering a crucial phase, during which CEEP has the opportunity to build a stable relationship with the new European leadership, starting with the European Commission President and Executive Vice-Presidents and the President of the Council of the EU.

Kind regards,

Valeria Ronzitti

Following its official inauguration and launch on 16 October 2019, the European Labour Authority has started its activities. The European Labour Authority management board will meet on 3 December 2020. It is planned for the group to adopt the work programme 2020 and further define the key activities that should be implemented for 2020.

Over 17.5 million Europeans live or work in a Member State other than that of their nationality. This figure has almost doubled compared to a decade ago. At the same time, businesses benefit from the Internal Market and operate across borders on a daily basis. Cross-border activity is an inherent feature of the EU, which benefits individuals, economies and societies as a whole. To facilitate free movement of workers within the Union, the EU has developed an extensive body of legislation pertaining to EU-level labour mobility, which keeps evolving to ensure the effectiveness and completeness of the acquis. The upcoming period will see the stabilisation of the new rules on labour mobility and a reinforced focus on their correct implementation, along with a strengthened enforcement. This will need to be complemented with a sustained effort to support free movement of workers as one of the pillars of the internal market, and to combat misperceptions surrounding it. The key new tool for strengthening enforcement of the labour mobility rules is the European Labour Authority. Inaugurated in October 2019, the Authority must now deliver on its tasks and respond to the ambitions which underpinned its creation. The Work Programme 2020 foresees a number of operational and preparatory actions spanning across the full range of the Authority’s seven tasks, including in view of the transfer of the European Platform tackling undeclared work and the EURES network.

In addition, the Authority will consolidate its administrative and governance structure, which will prepare for even more ambitious activities for the year 2021. The two tasks of “Facilitating access to information on labour mobility” and “Coordination and support of concerted and joint inspections” represent priorities of action for the Authority. Facilitating access to information on labour mobility is seen as a priority task of the Authority to bring important added value as soon as possible, and to provide a basis for other tasks. The Authority is set to improve the availability, quality and accessibility of information offered to individuals, employers and social partner organisations regarding the rights and obligations stemming from EU legislation on labour mobility and social security coordination. The Authority will set up the necessary arrangements to carry out concerted or joint inspections, with the aim of supporting at least one pilot inspection during the year 2020 to test the adequacy and effectiveness of the procedures and tools developed for common initiatives. At the same time, it will start providing learning and training opportunities for national inspectorates.

CEEP will participate in the management board on 3 December and will be represented by the chair of the CEEP Social Affairs Board, Jeanette Grenfors, who will highlight key priorities for employers in the context of quality information sharing and will further provide inputs on how joint inspections should be conducted.

Last Thursday 21 November 2019 CEEP held the final dissemination conference for its 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 aimed 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 is also 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.”

Adam Rogalewski, who opened the session on behalf of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) together with Ms Ronzitti, insisted very much on the key role of social dialogue to ensure Social Services of General Interest (SSGIs) are prepared to face the future challenges ahead. On this point, Sven Matzke, the appointed European Commission’s contact point for the project for the past two years, underlined that one of the aims of the project was to give more attention to SSGIs in cross-industry social dialogue, looking at what this European Commission has achieved in this field, and the projects of the incoming European Commission. To this purpose, it was important to benefit from Eckhard Voss’s presentation of the study that was conducted by Wilke Maack Partners (WMP)  over the two years of the project, since the introductory remarks were corroborated by the findings of the research that highlighted the importance of developing cross-industry social dialogue in the 6 countries targeted by the study, since there has hardly been any collective bargaining in those countries during the past decades, due to the inexistence of providers and employers in these sectors.

A first panel discussion in the morning gave the audience an in-depth insight of the situation of SSGI providers in the 6 EU Member States targeted by the project research, especially in terms of the challenges faced by SSGIs in each of the countries and the level of preparedness in each national context to tackle and address them.

The afternoon session was opened by a panel featuring the project partners and EUROFOUND that provided relevant examples of countries and SSGI employers that have had the time and resources to develop social dialogue at the cross-industry level, and shared with the audience the process of how they managed to do it.

The conclusions were positive since the best achievement of this two-years project was indeed the creation of a long-standing networks of providers and actors at the national level through which CEEP intends to continue promoting the importance of social dialogue, now that they are better equipped to know the difficulties such actors face at the national level. The aim of this project was to do more capacity building and raise at the EU level the importance of addressing the SSGI challenges at the cross-industry level of social dialogue, since the diversity of sectors can only be addressed in this context.

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