On 28 May, CEEP’s General Assembly adopted CEEP’s position on the Policy Framework for Climate and Energy in the period from 2020 to 2030. Being one of the most discussed issues on the EU agenda in 2014, this Policy Framework intends to ensure Europe’s energy supply and competitiveness as well as sustainability with regard to an important reduction of Green House Gas Emissions. Taking up the proposals made by the European Commission in January 2014, CEEP demands an ambitious approach for the European Climate and Energy Policy until 2030.
On the whole, CEEP welcomes the Commission’s Communication as it contributes to the overall aim of climate change mitigation, protection of resources and security of energy supply. Therefore, CEEP supports the Commission’s proposal of a binding reduction target for green house gas emissions by at least 40 per cent until 2030.
In general, the emission trading system is seen as the right instrument to reach this target, but has to be reformed due to existing insufficiencies. Nevertheless, it is also necessary to define the cost-efficient allocation of reduction efforts among Member States for the non-ETS sector. Moreover, the internal reduction target should not let the EU lose sight of the long term objective to build a global carbon market.
CEEP embraces the proposal for a binding EU-wide expansion target for renewable energies. However, it has to be ensured that all Member States firmly commit to contributing in a substantial way to the achievement that goal. Additionally, CEEP highlights the need for an economic mid- to long-term view that includes interconnectors and energy generation capacities. In an energy market partly dominated by renewable energies, not only the generation of electricity but also the provision of secure generation, which is supplied mainly by conventional power plants and hydro storage plants, has to be taken into consideration.
With regard to energy efficiency, CEEP welcomes the Commission’s approach to examine first to what extent the target for 2020 has already been reached. In order to achieve market-based policy solutions, it is necessary to move away from defining absolute consumption targets that can lead to growth inhibition.
In this context, the design of the according governance process is decisive. The reliability of the national plans and a fair effort-sharing has to be guaranteed. Moreover, an ambitious approach is also needed in order for the EU to continue to be a worldwide leader towards a success of the world climate negotiations.
At European level, the European Council aims to achieve an agreement on the Policy Framework until its meeting in October 2014 in order to achieve a coherent European position ahead of the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris in autumn 2015. Before that and during the second half of the present year, the European Commission will take a stance on the review of the Energy Efficiency Directive and the new governance process for the EU Energy and Climate Policies.
The Economic crisis has led to an important rarefaction of the funding resources available for the financing of the European economy in the long-run.
Investments went down in the whole European Union and it is essential now, in order to tackle the unacceptable unemployment rates we are facing today, to open new paths for a sustainable growth in a global context of stagnation. The funding needs, only for the network infrastructures, including transport, energy and telecommunications, are estimated to more than 1 trillion Euros for the 2020 horizon at the European level.
Furthermore, CEEP’s members are actively facing in their day to day activities difficulties of conception, valorisation and financing of their long-term projects while they are undergoing deep structural transformations including changes in society such as the ageing of the European workforce and evolution of the services delivery such as the transversal development of IT technologies and e-services.
To actively decarbonise the European economy, to accompany and not suffer the development of IT technologies and to regenerate urban and rural areas, investments projects need to be implemented through proper interconnection channels between Local authorities, Education institutions and Enterprises beyond the traditional borders between the public and the private spheres.
Now that a new European Parliament has been elected, the European Union may look again toward a long-term horizon. In 2010, the EU 2020 strategy for a smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth was built on the very basis of the mobilisation of the economic, financial and social actors.
Today, a renewal of the European investment strategy is desperately necessary to face the challenges of the future and CEEP’s members hope that the new parliament will fully undertake this responsibility together with a new college of Commissioner led by a new president.
The role of National public investment banks is essential in this matter and need to fully cooperate with a reinforced European investment bank together with the creation of a real investment fund industry.
The European Union must face these challenges head-on and aim, in the reorientation of the EU 2020 strategy, for an ambitious new plan of action for investment.
Commission’s negotiating points: towards more transparency?
For the very first time since the beginning of the negotiations, the Commission released its negotiating positions in five areas (on chemicals, cosmetics, motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products, textiles and clothing). American counterparts make this kind of document available on a regular basis. Therefore, when discussing with DG Trade in the upcoming months, CEEP will encourage the Commission to engage into a similar process, especially for negotiating positions related to Public Services and standards. Indeed, CEEP complained several times about the low level of transparency in the TTIP debate and CEEP is convinced that it is in the Commission’s interest to address this issue by disclosing more information to stakeholders.
Negotiations: what’s new?
EU and US negotiators met in Arlington on 19-23 May for a fifth round of negotiations on their free trade pact. It was the most extensive round since the talks were launched last July. Talks mainly focused on access to services and procurement markets.
The chief negotiators held a final press conference on 23 May. “Our work is proving challenging,” said Mullaney (US chief negotiator), commenting on the talks generally. Sources close to the negotiations admit that they are not expecting much progress this year and point the finger at November’s congressional elections in the US, where Democrats fear the effects of further trade liberalisation. But there are clearly obstacles to be overcome on the EU side too. For instance, ISDS was not negotiated in this round because the Commission hit the pause button, pending conclusion of a 90-day consultation launched in April.
CEEP approved an Opinion on TTIP in its General Assembly of 28 May link to the opinion.
ISDS in TTIP
The ISDS tool has been subject to serious criticism over the past months and has been described as highly controversial. However, there is no certainty on the way this consultation will at the end impact the content of negotiations on TTIP. Indeed, the Commission will write a report by the beginning of autumn, as well as publish the contributions and discuss the results with the Member States in Council and with the European Parliament. The EU’s legislators should then draw the appropriate conclusions from the consultation. Negotiations on ISDS provisions in the TTIP with the US could then resume. Under those circumstances, CEEP calls its members to actively contribute to the ISDS consultation.
Both an answer to the EC Consultation and a Position Paper on ISDS will be released beginning of July.
In his first plenary session of April, the European Parliament approved the Telecoms Package which dealt, among others, with the Regulation laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent.
Following a first proposal of the European Commission in December 2013, the recent vote, with 534 MEPs in favour, 25 against and 58 abstaining, set down the Parliament’s position on the European Union’s telecoms package ahead of negotiations with the member states that will be led by the next Parliament.
In view of these negotiations on the Telecoms package, CEEPs considers the Telecoms package as a first step towards a reformed legislative framework that aims to adapt better to today’s realities in the telecommunications sector.
CEEP notes the improvements to the provisions on radio spectrum which recognise its importance for broadcasting and its contribution to European culture and media pluralism. The value of radio spectrum as a vital resource for broadcasting and the achievement of a wide range of social, cultural and economic values, notably cultural diversity and media pluralism is explicitly recognised.
However, a reformed regulatory framework should incentivize the investments in advanced next-generation access networks required for the EU to reach its Digital Agenda targets and for the European Digital Single Market to become a reality. It is necessary to address the level playing field between the rules that apply to (often non-European) ‘over-the-top’ online services compared to eCommunications services, provided mostly by the European players. It is fundamental to grant a level playing field amongst all the participants in the digital economy value chain.
The European Parliament and the Council reached in February an agreement on the proposal for a directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information. On 15 April, the European Parliament adopted this directive which will now have to be implemented into national law. Besides this, the European Commission published on 29 April, a consultation for the future of CSR for 2014.
Review of the directive:
Following this agreement, enterprises concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on boards of directors.
The new rules will apply to around 6 000 large enterprises and groups across the EU (mainly listed companies and financial institutions) with more than 500 employees. This includes listed companies and unlisted companies, such as banks, insurance companies and other companies that would be designated by Member States because of their activities, size or number of employees. Additionally, and after much debate, disclosures may be provided at group level, rather than by each subsidiary or affiliate within a group
Those enterprises will be required to disclose information “necessary for an understanding of their development, performance, position and impact of their activity” but there is no obligation as to how to disclose and no templates. Enterprises would have the flexibility to disclose information in the way that they consider most useful. Enterprises may use the international, European or national guidelines on reporting they see fit. They can also report on every label they are awarded with (definition which includes our CEEP-CSR Label).
The draft Directive provides for further work by the Commission to develop guidelines in order to facilitate the disclosure of non-financial information by companies, taking into account current best practices, international developments and related EU initiatives. CEEP, thanks also to its position within the CSR Coordination Committee of DG ENTR, will continue its work on this topic.
Counsultation of the EC on CSR:
The Commission launched the public consultation to receive feedback on the implementation of its most recent policy on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which is outlined in the Communication “A renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility” published in Autumn 2011.
Once the consultation closed (deadline: 15 August), it will feed into a technical report and some outcomes will be useful for the multi-stakeholder forum on CSR which is planned for November 2014. CEEP, with its work in the CSR coordination committee of DG ENTR, will keep you updated about the process and work actively on this issue.
However we can already regret that the ambition of a consultation has been softened and the questionnaire looks more like a survey than a proper consultation. To read the consultation, please click here: http://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/CSR-Survey-2014
At the initiative of the CEEP French section, members of CEEP-France and candidates to the European Parliament were invited to a debate in Paris. On 30 April 2014 at the headquarter of the Fédération des Entreprises Publiques Locales , the guests talked about the issues concerning public services within the single market, the funding for public services, the EU 2020 strategy and the social dialogue.
The invited candidates , MEP Pervenche Berès (PS/S&D), MEP Philippe Juvin (UMP/EPP) and Mr. Jean Barbizet (UDI), are all in the position of being (re)elected and recognized for their expertise in the field of CEEP competencies.
This event shows CEEP national sections’ high commitment to preparing the post election period and to defining the directions the EU shall take for the next five years. The debate was also the opportunity for CEEP General Secretary to point out the core demands sent to EP candidates all over Europe such as:
- Ensuring continuous accessible funding for Public Services: As public services still face difficulties due to financial constraints, CEEP calls for the upcoming European Parliament to ensure the continuation of the Project Bonds initiative and to guarantee that new long-term investment tools do not replace the investments that should be made within public budgets but rather complement or add to the existing funding opportunities for public services. In addition, CEEP calls to favour the development of physical and social infrastructures, including human capital, which are essential for private business prosperity and citizens’ quality of life.
- Adopting a long-term and sustainable view when planning for the future: MEPs should consider the impact of each of their decisions on the current and next generations by maintaining the coherence with all EU objectives and values to ensure economic, social and environmental cohesion and always keeping the balance between the European Economic and Social Model.
- Supporting Innovation, Research and Education: there is a clear need to better anticipate future skills’ needs. What is more, investment in public services pays-off and therefore all investments in education, research and innovation, may also have a positive impact on employment creation. As a consequence, future MEPs should seek to actively promote the bettering of labour market transitions in order to enhance the overall employability of European workers and design an approach that is consistent with the development of lifelong learners through the identification of today’s and tomorrow’s key competences.
On all these issues, CEEP is committed to provide its expertise in order to support MEPs in the development of EU policies contributing to the development of a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe, based on quality, accessible and effective public services.
The upcoming EP elections are at the center stage of the opportunities for Europe’s citizens to express their opinions over the handling of the Eurozone crisis and the EU policy making of the next five years.
The crisis keeps endangering the unity of the European Union as well as the European project’s integrity. Public services face in this context the challenge of offering quality services while being subject to important constraints.
In this respect, CEEP would like to raise the particular issue of anticipation of change and restructuring in public services which should be of common concern to allof us.
For public services enterprises and organisations, structural reforms have prevailed in some countries while quantitative adjustments were preferred in others. These adjustments generally reflect the budgetary situation at the national level and in this regard, high debt levels were often synonym of important adjustments for public services. This has notably been the case in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. In this regard we believe it is important to notice that Countries which consolidated early, through reforms adapted to the characteristic of their national economy, were under less pressure to carry out adjustments. Anticipation of change is key in this regard and may help soften the negative consequences of the necessary transformation our European public services are going through.
Without proper anticipation of change, public services may face a deterioration of their ability to adapt to an increasing demand for quality services. This can already be observed in education and health care.
CEEP believes that this issue is essential for the upcoming European elections as it raises the important question of the quality of the services ensuring on a daily basis the economic, territorial and social cohesion of the European Union, across the political divide. In this difficult situation, public services’ providers are willing to review their management practices in order to increase effectiveness and to support the overall competitiveness of the European Union’s economy together with the promotion and protection of its social model.
The European elections are fast approaching. On 25 May, new MEPs will be elected. New faces will come to Brussels. New opportunities will arise to make our voice heard. Today, I was in Paris to explain our key messages to French candidates to the European elections: we want future members of the European Parliament to be aware of the importance of public services. We want them to adopt a long-term vision when planning for the future. We want them to promote EU policies contributing to the development of a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe, based on quality, accessible and effective public services. Those messages have been sent out today to all top list candidates all over Europe.
Today is also the beginning of a new era for CEEP. I am indeed proud to present you the a new visual identity, with a new logo, a redesigned website and fresh templates. Without altering the core values of the association, we also developed a new strapeline – Your voice. Your interests. Your future. – embracing the essence of our mission with more accuracy. By representing employers and providers of public services, we also give a voice and a future to the citizens by ensuring their rights to access essential services as well as to private businesses by representing the essential infrastructure for their growth.
This key moment is also a chance to improve the recognition of the association, with an increased presence on social media.
The voice of public services employers and providers shall indeed be louder in Brussels. To express our goals efficiently, as well as to effectively use media channels, is a first step. We will build on this first step to impact on the new European legislative session, starting with the European Parliament elections.
In the meanwhile, I invite you to discover our refurbished website on www.ceep.eu, and to join us on Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn.