The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) was developed as an attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations on the Doha Agenda, under the aegis of the WTO. Twenty-three countries are concerned, including the EU as a bloc. China and Uruguay are still not participating. The EU supports the entrance of more participants into the TiSA negotiations, including China and Uruguay, who have officially showed their interest. However, the United States of America have been opposing it. The telecoms, electronic trade, financial services, postal, maritime, road, aviation and procurement sectors are all concerned, under certain conditions. In March 2013, the Council authorised the European Commission to begin negotiations – a decision supported by a vote in the European Parliament on 4 July 2013. Since then, 21 parties have committed to a list of sectors that could be included/not included in the agreement. Each contracting country is free to choose the sectors that will be liberalised.
Although all eyes are currently on the TTIP agreement with the US, CEEP thinks that TISA should be back in the spotlight since the debate promises to be just as inflammatory as the TTIP negotiations. Indeed, without clarification, we will surely be heading for serious problems since TISA could potentially promote an environment more conducive to privatization. CEEP acknowledges the fact that the EU – as a major actor on the global services market – has a “huge interest” in reaching an agreement. However, as we have liberalised our services via a reduction in non-tariff measures, reciprocity is highly needed with third countries. To be more precise, the Union does not need to open its market further. On the contrary, it is our partners that need to catch up. Therefore, the Commission must commit firmly and clearly to protecting our services of general interest – which are part of Europe’s DNA.
Besides the scope of negotiations, CEEP is also concerned about the lack of transparency in the current discussions. CEEP consequently intends to fight to gain full access to the Council’s negotiating mandate as this was the case recently for the negotiating mandate on TTIP. Therefore, CEEP will monitor the tenth round of TiSA negotiations, to be held in Geneva from 1-5 December 2014.
CEEP was granted a new project that aims to support the development of social dialogue measures and instruments across Europe.
This project will support national organisations and specific sectors to be further involved within social dialogue. This will be done via specific training and actions to improve their ability to integrate into, and to influence, the European social dialogue. We need first to give explanations/inform the participants in these training sessions and equip them with the necessary knowledge to get involved in social dialogue.
The objective of this project is to facilitate the intake of social dialogue activities in countries and in sectors with less experience in European social dialogue and, at a later stage, to support people in these countries in analyzing and implementing social partners’ agreements.
More specifically, this project will tackle the following actions:
- Organise two tailor-made training sessions to build ownership and knowledge – to train people for negotiations in social dialogue;
- Organise a study on the implementation of social partners’ agreements and two meetings on the implementation of social partners agreements in the 12 countries that have joined the EU since 2004. Every cross-industry social partners’ agreement will be tackled but with a specific focus on the agreement on Inclusive Labour Market and the Framework of Actions on Youth Employment;
- Organise two thematic meetings during this project on the following sectors:
- o Social Care (hospitals, social services) except people with disabilities
- o Mutuals, insurances and other institutionalised funding systems
This project will take place until July 2016.
On 24 November 2014, CEEP welcomed Dominique Ristori, Director-General of the Commission’s Directorate-General in charge of energy, for a lunch-debate with its members. Mr Ristori presented the Commission’s plans for the month to come and invited CEEP members to reflect together on how to best shape the European energy policy.
With regard to one of the debate’s main issues, the Framework for 2030, Mr Ristori underlined the remarkable signal sent out by the Council’s recent agreement that, already today, leads to a shift in the international setting. When discussing the compromise that the Council had reached on renewables, Mr Ristori stressed the possibility for Member States to set even more ambitious targets. Moreover, while reaching greater flexibility of support schemes, the market integration of renewables should be further developed at both European and national level. With regard to energy efficiency, Mr Ristori underlined that this will be one of the Commission’s key priorities as it is not only linked to the benefits of energy saving, but also sustainable job creation. He identified three priorities: an energy efficient building sector, energy efficient mobility and energy efficient products. In view of the concrete implementation of the Framework for 2030, CEEP members seized the opportunity to highlight the importance of planning certainty as well as a reliable governance process.
These policy demands were also raised in the context of another major issue of the lunch-debate: The current discussions on a new impetus for investment in Europe. CEEP members had the occasion to give concrete examples for the needed stable political framework for investment.Mr Ristori emphasized that the energy sector requires huge investments of 200 billion annually over the next three years. The major part should be invested in projects favoring energy efficiency and energy infrastructure. He welcomed CEEP’s position on this issue and highlighted that CEEP members could play an important role in liberating investment. The Commission itself would like to contribute both through a concrete action and a future oriented policy vision. He emphasized that the regulatory risk must be considered as the main obstacle for investors and acknowledged that planning certainty is indeed crucial and that it will be realized, among others, by the concrete implementation of the Framework for 2030.
The Commission’s plans on smart metering and smart grids were another important issue of the debate. According to Mr Ristori, there are only two options: Either to pro-actively create and organize this new field in Europe or to be pushed to do so by outside developments. Europe should be a frontrunner when introducing these new technologies. With regard to capacity markets, another priority for CEEP members, Mr Ristori underlined the importance for security of supply in the context of a changed energy mix. In this context, the lunch-debate was the occasion to discuss the next steps at European level, also in view of the Energy Union’s five pillars as set by the Commission’s Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.
Despite a few timid signs of recovery in some Member States, economic stagnation keeps hampering the long-term growth potential of the European Union.
The renewal of the European institutions has led to the important realisation that on top of an expansionnist monetary policy, strategic investment in key sectors are needed to compensate for the EU lack of a proper budgetary policy.
Indeed, the European Central Bank will not by itself break the vicious circle of low growth, low investment and low credit. Inflation has dropped to historically low levels while some countries have entered a dangerous spiral of deflation while credit to the private sector remains negative territory.
Public investment could not compensate for this as fiscal consolidation policies were too short-sighted. Undifferentiated cuts in public expenditure from 2010 to 2014 have reached 5% of GDP in the Euro area. Those cuts were mainlyin public investment, including in transport, education, public administration, health, environment protection, and so on.
This had a terrible impact as preserving public investment could have made a sizeable difference in terms of output, employment and growth potential, without major negative impact on budget deficits and debt ratios.
The EU desperately needs a positive and fast paced movement for job creation. Mr J.C. Juncker announced an investment plan as a key way to initiate this.
On Wednesday 25 November, before the European Parliament, the President of the European Commission, J.C. Juncker, announced an investment plan intending to crowd-in private investment thanks to a more strategic use of our public resources.
CEEP sees this plan as a step in the right direction.
A ‘European Fund for Strategic Investments’ will be created . Member States will be able to pay capital into the fund. Such lending will not be characterised as “expenditure” under the Stability and Growth Pact balance sheet. This would prove to be attractive for Member States, particularly those with credit ratings below the triple A.
Pipeline of projects: The fund will target “viable projects” with “real added value” for the European social market economy. It identifies the right “strategic infrastructure” digital, energy, transport infrastructure and Education infrastructures. Projects should meet three criteria: 1) EU value-added (in support of EU objectives); 2) Economic viability and value; 3) Projects that can start within the next 3 years.
Policy measures: In terms of removing obstacles, measures will focus on sector-specific (infrastructure, services and product market) and other financial barriers to investment.
Such an Investment plan was long awaited by CEEP as it addresses the right sectors and identifies the key hurdles on the capital market. CEEP will be pushing forward its approval throughout the interinstitutional bargaining process which has now started.
Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, presented on Wednesday its ‘Investment Plan for Europe’. That presentation was highly anticipated, as CEEP has been calling since the very beginning of the crisis for a major investment initiative at EU level in social and physical infrastructures. We believe that Mr Juncker’s investment plan has the right direction and ambition. We are however convinced that the implementation will be the real test in order to bring growth back in Europe.
The plan presented by the European Commission indeed focuses on the key sectors for future growth in Europe. The EU will grow thanks to investments in fields such as energy, transport, broadband, healthcare and education.
Also, the plan puts forward the right instrument. CEEP has been calling for a long time for such a ‘European Fund for Strategic Investments’. We welcome the fact that the European Commission has had the courage to propose it, and we hope that its efficiency will be high enough to make it a permanent instrument in the European governance.
Finally the plan is accompanied by the right governance tools, as the contributions by the Member States to the EFSI will not be counted in their ‘Stability and Growth Pact’ assessment.
But even if the plan presented is a step in the good direction, this can only take shape if each Member State commits to contributing to the guarantee scheme during the December Council meeting. Private investment can only flourish if based on sound public finances and re-launched public investments in infrastructures. Otherwise the plan will never create its extremely highly ambitious leverage effect and will only remain a 21 Billion € guarantee that the EC and EIB were able to put together.
Education and University ministers will meet on 12 December to discuss the economic case for education and training in the context of the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy.
Europe 2020 was designed as the European Union’s macro-economic strategy in response to the economic crisis in the Union. From the outset, education was intended to play a key role within the Strategy, as demonstrated by the headline target that was adopted; namely to bring down the rate of early school-leavers down to below 10% and to increase tertiary or equivalent attainment to at least 40% by 2020.
The decision to give an important role to education within Europe 2020 was based on the rationale that quality education and the development of skills are pre-requisites for innovation, sustained growth, competitiveness and high productivity.
However, in total, in 2011 and/or 2012, cuts in education budget were made in twenty countries/regions for which data are available. Cuts of more than 5 % were observed in Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, the United Kingdom (Wales) and Croatia.
This is an indication that expenditure for education was not and is still not treated systematically as an investment. Yet in order to achieve quality outcomes, the necessary investments need to be made.
CEEP now asks for a change of paradigm.
Resources, whether public or private, are always scarce. Available resources can be used in different ways to attain the same goal. Ensuring efficient and effective use of resources is thus an important issue of public policies, including the area of schooling and education.
CEEP believes that EU Member States should thus more often and more carefully use cost-benefit analysis to ascertain that public and private resources devoted to education address real problems and societal needs in the best way.
Efficiency and effectiveness of educational policies is the goal of all Members States, and principles of good public governance are not country specific. Some concrete options exist to reinforce the efficiency of investment in education:
- There are no international quality standards for conducting Cost Benefits analysis. CEEP believes that some guidance could be developed at international level at this level.
- Within the EU2020 strategy and its trimesters, an annual recommendation should be issued to Member States to adopt Cost Benefits Analysis as a regular component for considering new educational programs and measures
For individuals, education generates benefits not only because it improves occupational prospects, wages and job satisfaction. Education also has considerable spill over effects as it leads to more informed decisions affecting health, marriage, parenting and retirement. These positive outputs should always be considered when assessing the potential benefits of a specific education program or policy.
While it has been severely criticized by some national governments, especially the German one, Cecilia Malmström , the incoming Trade Commissioner, announced that she will not take out the ISDS tool from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) because “it would make it (the agreement) fall apart”. The European Parliament will be asked to give its consent on the text by the beginning of 2015. Since the CETA agreement is a “mixed agreement”, national parliaments will also have to vote on the text. As a consequence, the ratification process of the CETA is foreseen to last at least between one and 2 more years.
With regards to Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), there are signs coming from internal sources of the Commission showing interest to take it out. EC President Juncker said in a speech at the European Parliament last week that “there is no need for an ISDS in TTIP”. However, he let Vice President Timmermanns have the last say on this issue, thus not clarifying his final intention and illustrating how the new structure of the Commission and the Juncker-Timmermanns tandem will probably work in the coming years.
However, big businesses are pushing against such a move and 14 Member States (among which UK, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Czech Republic) have sent a letter to the Commission last week, urging EU officials not to drop the ISDS in TTIP.
The other sensitive issue related to TTIP at the moment concerns the transparency of the negotiations: the consultation launched by the European ombudsman ends the week and the Commission is expected to present some proposals to improve the transparency of the negotiations in November. CEEP has been advocating for more transparency in TTIP since the very beginning of the negotiations and you can read our position here.
The 8th round of negotiations will take place in Brussels by the end of the year. CEEP will make sure that the TTIP agreement will safeguards Services of General Interest as the backbone of the EU social model. To be more precise, we developed positions which, while promoting trade and economic exchanges, preserve the role of SGI in the EU, and the principles of ‘freedom of definition, organization and funding of SGI’, as well as their special treatment regarding the internal market and completion rules.
Two main topics were on CEEP’s agenda for the past few weeks: the CEEP CSR Label Awarding Ceremony and the activities surrounding the first steps of the Juncker Commission.
Last Wednesday was an important day for CEEP: 24 providers of services of general interests’ were awarded with the CEEP-CSR Label, acknowledging their groundbreaking CSR commitments.
The CSR commitments of those 24 SGI providers prove that they do more than simply fulfil their public services missions. They are particularly efficient and effective when it comes to positively impacting the social and environmental aspects of society and by being always seeking to be more innovative.
The awarding ceremony also highlighted the ever-growing importance of the CEEP CSR Label, since new European rules on public procurement have emphasized the positive impact of labels in tendering processes.
Also, the Juncker Commission, with its new structure and the important role of Vice-Presidents, was approved by the European Parliament and the European Council, giving Jean-Claude Juncker and his team the green light to take office from 1 November.
CEEP already established contact with some Commissioners and their cabinets. Building up on the pledge of Jean-Claude Juncker to be the ‘President of Social Dialogue’, we aim at establishing a concrete and result-oriented working relationship with the new EC.
On this regard, CEEP already welcomed the focus of the Commission on investments. Well-targeted investments are of uttermost importance for the EU future prosperity. There is much room for improving the quality of national public expenditure, with the pursuit of public policy objectives such as improving the ‘school to work’ transition, reinforcing public employment services and favouring fair mobility.
CEEP now counts on making our positions heard by the EC as well as by MEPs, in order to develop EU policies aiming at fostering long-term growth, while emphasising the need for the authorities to acknowledge CSR efforts.
CEEP welcomes the European Council’s decision on the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework. It proves that the European Union has the courage to play the front runner against climate change and to go to the Conference of the Parties 21 in Paris with a strong mandate.
CEEP sees in the Council’s agreement a decisive step towards a competitive, secure and sustainable European energy system. It reflects CEEP’s demands for a binding reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% until 2030 as well as for a binding target on renewables at European level.
Moreover, the recognised need for a reformed Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), including as well a fair effort-sharing between the ETS and non-ETS sector, is in line with CEEP’s demand for it. In order to avoid an asymmetric burden for sectors in direct competition, the Council agreement has to be put into legislative proposals as soon as possible.
In this context, CEEP calls on the Commission to quickly develop concrete proposals for complementary measures and instruments that guarantee again a functioning emission trading system. In particular, there is a need to define the fair and cost-efficient allocation of reduction efforts among Member States. Furthermore, the introduction of a market stability reserve already before 2021 has to be considered as a key element of a reformed ETS. The decision to change the annual factor to reduce the cap on the maximum permitted emissions from 1.74% to 2.2% should also be realised soon.
CEEP also welcomes that the Council underlined the “fundamental importance” of a quick completion of internal energy market, among others, through better electricity interconnections.
It is now decisive to quickly deliver the strongly needed planning certainty to all players of the European energy system. This is key for long-term investment both in infrastructure and generation capacities that are indispensable in a transformed European energy system.
Finally, the Council’s conclusion to keep all the elements of the framework under review should not lead to a loss of confidence towards the European climate and energy policy. In times when security of supply is an important concern, reliability should more than ever become a major priority.
Therefore, the upcoming months will be decisive to define the right governance process that ensures that all Member States contribute to the realisation of the Council’s agreement. A fair effort-sharing has to be guaranteed. CEEP considers that a successful governance process requires a stringent and stable time frame. In terms of planning certainty this is strongly needed.
On the 29 October in Milan, 24 public services providers were awarded the CEEP-CSR Label for their groundbreaking CSR commitments and practices. This event was an opportunity for the awarded enterprises to receive the label but also to meet the ‘label family’ which provides ground for networking and exchange of information.
According to CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti, “This label is a demonstration that those public services’ providers do more than fulfilling their services. They are particularly efficient and effective when it comes to positively impacting the social and environmental aspects of society”.
Since 2008, the CEEP-CSR Label has contributed to raising corporate image of the awarded enterprises and increasing their chances in tendering processes. Since its creation, more than 100 enterprises were awarded and are now part of the ‘label family’.
According to Claudio Puliti (ACEA), “this label is not only important for the recognition it provides but also for the opportunity of learning from others participating in the process”.
This year, 74 enterprises started the evaluation with an online self-assessment tool. Experts from Berenschot ranked the enterprises that succeeded the self-assessment, based on criteria derived from international indications such as ISO 26000, EMAS and others with a focus on the specificities observed in Public Services.
The awarded enterprises are:
- Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG)
- Berliner Stadtreinigung (BSR)
- Entsorgung Dortmund GmbH (EDG)
- Die Stadtreiniger – Stadt Würzburg
- Nantes-Gestion Equipement (NGE)
- Perfect Union
- SEQUANO Amènagement
- SIC – Société d’immobilière de la Nouvelle Calédonie
- ACEA SpA
- Ambiente Servizi
- CAP Holding
- Gruppo HERA
- APS – Administração dos Portos de Sines e do Algarve
- Fyrishov AB
- Stockholm Vatten
- Scape Group