Newsletter

On 14 March, the Regulatory Fitness Platform of the European Commission (or “REFIT Platform”) adopted a series of Opinions dealing with varied issues relevant to the EU legislative and policy-making framework. Amongst those, two Opinions were drafted by CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti, together with other REFIT Platform members, full REFIT member since its creation in May 2015.

The first of these Opinions refers to “Transparent Transposition” and draws up recommendations aimed at addressing the issue of over-regulation by national and sub-national authorities transposing EU legislation into national law. The second one is entitled “State Aid and ESIF” and raises awareness on the needed alignment of EU State Aid rules with European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) regulation.

CEEP is fully convinced of the added value of both these Opinions as well as the impact that they will have on future EU policy-making and in supporting the proper implementation of EU legislations at national, regional and local level. Those two outcomes will only be attained if and when institutions, SGI providers, employers, workers and even citizens, make full use of all the opportunities stemming from those REFIT Opinions.
On the one hand the opinion on “Transparent Transposition” should be used to highlight the shortcomings that impact the whole European legislative machinery. On the other hand the one on “State Aid and ESIF” underlines the current lack  of complementarity between two of the most important areas of EU policy-making, which are competition policy and cohesion policy. As such, those opinions can serve as a basis for our future actions when it comes to better monitoring the implementation of the EU legislation in Member States, and highlight the need to address both the competition policy and the EU funding tools.

The REFIT Platform exerting a consultative function as the European Commission’s regulatory body, these opinions are not legally binding. In both cases, however, they send the right signals and enable EU decision-makers to better locate shortcomings and room for improvement. CEEP believes that both these opinions, contribute (together with many other) to improving EU law-making in terms of quality across many policy fields. But beyond the matters at stake, they clearly establish the REFIT Platform’s added value as a forum to stimulate and structure political debate.

CEEP Policy Officer Alexis Le Coutour remains (alexis.lecoutour@ceep.eu) at your disposal for any further questions on this issue.

On 27 March, MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg approved in a vote the last files of the Clean Energy Package (CEP) on the Electricity Market Design Directive and Regulation. A final approval was also voted for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER Regulation) and Risk-Preparedness for the electricity sectors. All files were voted with a large majority.

After the adoption of the 2030 climate legislation and the commitments to meet the Paris Agreement commitments, the CEP is one of the largest Commission files to be finalized and approved this year towards a steady path to decarbonize our economy. Last year on 18 December, EU negotiators reached a common agreement on the two last remaining files of the CEP, which was published by the European Commission in Winter 2016. CEEP welcomes the progress that has been made for the two electricity files compared to the initial proposal of the Commission and overall welcomes the Parliament’s final approval this week to approve the new set of market design rules for the European energy market. Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, stated that “This package brings the completion of the Energy Union closer. The energy market will be more secure, more sustainable and more competitive”.

CEEP pleaded for a functioning European internal energy market and welcomes overall that consumers and CO2 emission reduction are placed at the heart to achieve the EU’s climate and energy objectives in the short and long term, whilst creating a fair and level-playing field for all market actors and ensuring a well-balanced competitive energy market. For that CEEP welcomes the new roles and responsibilities that have been put in place to ensure that there are no further market distortions and non-discriminatory treatment privileging certain actors. To ensure and safeguard a functioning EU energy market, CEEP also pleaded for  recognition that system adequacy is vital to the European electricity system and that capacity mechanisms are a tool to guarantee that enough capacity will always be available, especially at peak periods to supply demand. For that, new rules have been put in place setting conditions for Member States to ensure a sufficient supply of electricity during peak times.

Furthermore, CEEP welcomed in general the Commission’s efforts to find effective tools to reduce emissions in the electricity sector; However, respecting the emission limit of 550 gr CO2 of fossil fuels per KWh of electricity will be challenging for some Member States. The Regulation will exclude new power plants emitting more than the limit mentioned above from the capacity mechanisms and existing power plants that produce on average 350kg CO2 per year per installed kW may continue until 1 July 2025 in the capacity mechanism. With regard to the establishment of the EU DSO entity, CEEP supported this concept in principle and welcomes that DSOs regardless of their size are allowed to become a member in this entity and are included in the process to design the Network Codes. Also, it is positive to see that DSOs can act in their roles as active neutral market facilitators, by managing procurement of flexibility through the support of given incentives and establishing network tariffs and exercising data management.

For the publication into the Official Journal of the Union, the two electricity files will have to be formally approved by the Council of Ministries of the EU before the Regulation file can enter into force on 1 January 2020. The Directive will have to be transposed into national law within 18 months. The Regulation for Risk-Preparedness and ACER will enter into force right after their publication.

If you have any more questions on the Clean Energy Package please contact our Policy Officer Henriette Gleau (henriette.gleau@ceep.eu).

Since its creation in 2010, the European Semester is a cycle of economic and fiscal policy coordination within the EU and is now an integral part of the European Union’s economic governance framework. It provides Member States with recommendations on structural reforms, on fiscal policies and on the prevention of excessive macroeconomic imbalances.

In this context, on 27 February, The European Commission released a new set of country reports. The reports provide the analytical basis for the country-specific recommendations in the European Semester.

One novelty in this year’s reports is the inclusion, for the first time, of a specific Annex on ‘Investment guidance for cohesion policy 2021/2027’. This analysis on investment needs is expected to be included again in the country reports in five years’ time. The objective is to ensure greater coherence between the coordination of economic policies and the use of EU funds, which represent a significant part of public investment in several Member States (cohesion policy funds alone in the next programming period correspond to 0.5 % of EU GDP). To that end, country reports identify priority areas for policy action regarding public and private investment in Member States, and therefore provide the analytical basis for a successful programming of cohesion policy funds and use of related EU funds in 2021-2027. This annex is of particular importance for CEEP’s members. Indeed, many public services are referred to as key investment targets. Health, education and other public services’ infrastructures are referred to prominently when addressing the need to create a low carbon economy and reinforce energy efficiency. For instance, housing features also prominently in the analysis of many Member States. But more interestingly, and to some extent more than in previous years, the European Commission highlights in several cases how the lack of social housing calls for stronger investment in the sector as well as in energy efficiency of (residential) buildings, especially with regard to the next ESIF programming period. The Pillar of Social rights is also abundantly referred to as well as the objective of improving the quality, effectiveness and labour market relevance of education and training, equal access to, and completion of, quality and inclusive education and training, particularly for disadvantaged groups, and lifelong learning, notably flexible upskilling and reskilling.

It will be important to follow the implementation of the MFF through the prism of this new guidance made available by the European Commission. The Pillar of social rights, with its emphasis on essential services, should also contribute to assessing our services as a priority target for investments.

CEEP organised this Friday 29 March, together with UDES, the Third Round Table Meeting in the framework of the European Commission’s co-financed project “Social Services in European cross-industry social dialogue: towards a strong and deeper involvement”.

The project will increase the profile of social services at the European level within the remit of social dialogue. By collecting key information in 6 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Romania), this project has the objective of improving the knowledge of social services providers when it comes to social dialogue at national level and to promote their better inclusion within the existing structures of social dialogue. The goals of the project are, therefore, not only to raise awareness about the importance of social services in social dialogue at European and national level, but also to create a long-standing network of social services active within the social dialogue.

The Third Round Table Meeting in Paris involved the relevant social services’ providers in Bulgaria and Malta in the discussions on the role of social services in the European cross-industry social dialogue. The meeting was opened by the host, MP Sarah El Hairy, Deputy representing MoDem and the department of Loire-Atlantique in the French National Assembly. During the meeting, the objectives and the structure of the project were presented and a general introduction to CEEP and the European cross-industry social dialogue was given by CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti.

During the discussion, the participants exchanged views and practices regarding the difficulties in establishing social dialogue in the different countries. An important question that was posed was whether it is possible to foster social dialogue and achieve recognition from the governments. The participants discussed not only the obstacles and challenges in doing this but also how their organisations managed to get recognised by their government.

The Draft Intermediate Report, which was presented by WMP expert Eckhard Voss, illustrated the role of public and private providers in the 6 examined countries. Despite the fact that there is a mixture of private and public providers, in these countries for-profit providers are on the rise and play an increasing role. The main challenges identified by the Report included the investment in social protection, education and healthcare; the quality and efficiency of healthcare and medical services; the fight against social exclusion; and the understaffing and education and training.

Regarding the role of social dialogue in Social Services of General Interest (SSGIs), it was demonstrated that there is a lack of employer organisations in SSGIs, that social enterprises do not play a significant role and that national governments are the main counterpart to trade unions when it comes to bargaining.

The Malta Council for Economic and Social Development, together with representatives of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services and the Ministry for Social Policy provided an outlook into the representation of social services in Malta. In addition, experts from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences presented the national social dialogue and the structure of SSGIs in Bulgaria.

The Technical Training Course will be held on 15 and 16 May 2019 in Brussels and is organised by CEEP. The target countries for this meeting will be the 6 Countries that are the project’s focus (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Romania). Should you wish to register, do not hesitate to contact CEEP Project Officer Carlotta Astori.

Dear readers,

With the EU elections approaching, the EU co-legislators are speeding up the process of adopting their last proposals, whilst preparing the ground for the new, post-26 May, institutional setup.

Important files wrapping up include, amongst others, the Clean Energy Package and the final activities of the REFIT Platform, whose mandate will end on 31 October 2019, and which recently approved its Opinion on “transparent transposition”, prepared and pushed for by CEEP and addressing the consequences of ‘gold-plating” in the transposition of EU legislations. You can read more in this Newlstter.

CEEP also highlighted its profile at the highest level, ahead of the May elections. Indeed, on 20 March, CEEP Vice-President Milena Angelova addressed the Tripartite Social Summit (TSS), in the presence of Viorica Dăncilă, Prime Minister of Romania, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. Organised every semester by the European Council, the TSS is the ideal platform to highlight our key messages for the future socio-economic development of the EU and remind EU leaders and social partners about the central role of high-quality, affordable and accessible public services and SGIs in the EU social model.

With two months to go before the EU elections, this TSS was of particular importance for CEEP. Together with ETUC, BusinessEurope and SMEunited, CEEP issued a joint statement, highlighting that “democracy needs to be lived in order to remain alive”, and “urging citizens across Europe to go out and vote in the European elections from 23-26 May 2019 in order to have a say on the future and to defend democracy, sustainable economic growth and social justice.”

For CEEP, this commitment is translated into the organisation of a series of events, gathering around the table EU decision-makers, CEEP members and institutional players. Kicking off these events, our first  debate was held at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels on 7th March 2019, with the participation of, amongst others, Luca Jahier, President of the EESC, MEP Karine Gloanec-Maurin, chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Public Services, MEP Jo Leinen, Honorary President of the European Movement International, Christian Mangold, Director for Campaigns at the European Parliament, Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of the European Movement International, and Tellervo Kyla-Harraka-Rounala, Vice-President of the EESC Employers’ group. At this occasion, CEEP officially supported the EP campaign “This time I am voting”

Our members are also active on the ground, with events organised with candidates to the European elections already scheduled in Germany, in France, in Luxembourg and in the Netherlands. Going beyond the political divide, those events highlight the importance of exchanging on the European project and engaging in a constructive cooperation at all levels.

The next important event CEEP is associated with is the Democracy Alive, in Texel, on 11-14 April 2019, where we will have the opportunity to exchange with citizens, EP candidates and other organisations.

We look forward to all those future opportunities to exchange views and reinforce our standing before and after the elections. Coordinated actions, at the EU, national and local levels, are the best way to increase the reach.

I wish you a good read.

Kind regards,
Valeria Ronzitti

In February, the European Parliament ENVI Committee (Environment, public health and food safety) has published a briefing document  from the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies  on the ‘European policies on climate and energy towards 2020,2030 and 2050’ in reaction to the finalized Clean Energy Package and the EU decarbonization commitments. This paper presents an easy and clear overview of European policies on climate and energy towards the next upcoming decades. In this context, CEEP is committed to keeping the conversation on the decarbonization process of our European economy between the EU institution and our members active as public services and SGI providers are daily actors in this climate transition. We believe, only with joint actions and through a cross-sectoral approach, we have a realistic chance to tackle Climate Change.

At CEEP, we gather members from the whole economy, including sectors such as health, transport, communications, environment, waste, water, education, housing, local administration and energy. The last one is on the front line when addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction. However, as the EU actions are impacting the whole economy, and seen the broad actions required to substantially reduce GHG emissions, all CEEP members are concerned and we are dedicated to highlighting their expertise and strategies both at local and European level.

The EU has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by at least 20% by 2020 and aims to reduce by at least 40% by 2030.  The briefing document describes how the previously agreed legislative files will enable the EU to achieve its commitments for 2020, which were agreed in the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the challenges that Europe must face in order to attain its targets for 2030 agreed in the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, this briefing document also presents the proposed roadmap to 2050, in which the EU can achieve its targets in different possible ways in this decarbonization process. The briefing covers topics such as ETS, effort sharing decision, renewable targets, energy efficiency, LULUCF, CCS, climate change adaptation strategies, financial investments. However, other related EU policies for reducing GHG emissions for the transport sector or circular economy, are not covered by this paper.

In brief, the Policy Department calls out to the EU Institutions and Member States to expand their vision on tackling Climate Change and take their climate action at a global level. This could be achieved by reinforcing its capacity for climate diplomacy and strengthening its geopolitical relations by shaping  its foreign, trade, development, aid and security policies accordingly, as well as by planning conflict prevention strategies. The pressure from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report in 2018 clearly states the tremendous dangers of a global average temperature above 1.5 C°.

Therefore, we positively receive the call for joint actions to a climate-neutral economy including more energy efficiency, the deployment of renewables, greener and safer mobility, more competitive industry and circular economy strategies.

Dear reader,

Yesterday 21 February, the European Economic and Social Committee placed the first stepping stone on the way to the European elections of 23-26 May 2019, with the ‘Civil Society for rEUnaissance’ event.

Bringing together, on the same stage, representatives of social partners and of civil society, inspirational figures including climate activist Greta Thunberg, and institutional leaders such as Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the line-up of the event was a clear signal that we are not dealing with the classic “business as usual” in Europe today. During the event, all speakers made clear that the challenges awaiting us in the coming months are numerous, and that all will have to be done to ensure participation during the upcoming elections. Between the digital transformation and its impacts on labour markets and the provision of our services, the call to bring answers to the human causes of climate and environmental changes and the ageing demographics, it is unlikely that any of the 28 Member States can bring solutions to all those issues by themselves. Some form of European response will be needed, and that is what we, as European citizens, will be called upon to vote.

Representing providers of public services and SGIs, CEEP clearly holds some of the tools to answer those challenges and contribute to the European project. Our members are active in sectors which are of prime importance for the daily life of our citizens. Without affordable, efficient and effective public services and SGIs, such as education, healthcare or energy, how would the EU society look like? At a moment when ‘sustainable’ is on everyone’s lips, we need to clearly recognize public services and services of general interest as instrumental for this sustainable future, bringing together environmental, social and economic concerns. And to act accordingly, in order to promote social and territorial cohesion, as well as upwards convergence for citizens and enterprises.

CEEP, just like the other EU cross-industry social partners, has a clear role to play in the coming months, to make sure the European values and our social-market economy prevail in May. Many other opportunities are awaiting us up until the elections and beyond, where we will make sure our key priorities, such a fair and predictable level-playing field for all SGIs, an active and living social dialogue, an attractive investment environment for our infrastructures, and a European democracy supported by cohesion and subsidiarity, are well taken into account.

Kind regards,

Valeria Ronzitti

On 19 February, 2019, the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (or “INTA Committee”) adopted a Draft Motion for Resolution supporting the Juncker Commission’s intention to re-open international trade agreement negotiations with the US authorities. Although in favour of rules-based international trade and clearly endorsing the report on this point, CEEP remains prudent as to the direction next steps should take. The European Parliament’s plenary is expected to adopt this report, making it the Parliament’s official position, in March 2019, whilst the European Council shall likely do the same roughly at the same moment. CEEP strongly recommends that both institutions should keep the safeguard of European citizens’ basic interests and their legitimate concerns at the top of the list of priorities.

Several provisions within this report deserve attention. For example, on content-related aspects of these talks, the exclusion of agricultural products from the negotiation scope seems appropriate to protect European public health. But even more important are procedural guarantees and conditions on the process of negotiations. In particular, the INTA Committee’s clear stance in requiring a broad consultation process involving the civil society and a sustainability impact assessment as well as setting the condition that talks will only be triggered with a lift of current US tariffs on aluminium and steel (and shall be interrupted, should any new tariff be decided by the USA) are sine qua non preconditions to any step forward in this direction.

CEEP considers that poor performance of the European Commission’s negotiators in ensuring transparency and providing credible guarantees in terms of accountability were key in TTIP’s failure and anyway unfit to protect and foster the development of EU citizen’s common interest. Moreover, should this path be opened and notwithstanding the positive elements described above, more shall be needed in the negotiating mandate to adequately protect public services. Such provisions could include, inter alia, guarantees on public procurement regulation (access to tenders), specific provisions for small-scale local utilities (e.g. as derogatory regimes reducing administrative burden or providing legal protection), recognition of Services of General Interest (SGIs) as a legal notion… Much still needs to be done to ensure public acceptance on any new project – an obvious conclusion considering the narrow majority of this week’s vote in the INTA Committee (21 votes in favour, 17 against and one abstention).

CEEP’s Policy Officer for Public Services Alexis Le Coutour (alexis.lecoutour@ceep.eu) remains at your disposal for any further question regarding this matter.

The range of inequality levels prevailing in Europe is so wide that it is difficult to consider a “single European model”. There are today vast differences between and within the European Member States when we address the critical issue of inequalities in Europe. As for specific issues, these differences concern income levels, wealth levels and employment gaps. We witness major differences between regions which for CEEP are to be linked to an unequal repartition of key physical and social infrastructures in the European Member States.

CEEP always advocated that key enabling services such as energy, transport, housing, health, education… are a pre-condition to ensure citizens are geared up to face the major transformations our economies are going through. CEEP is particularly concerned by the impact of demographic-ageing, the digitalisation and the adaptation to climate change and a greener economy. All these changes bear the potential to aggravate inequalities if not managed properly. Public services and SGIs should be better supported through targeted investments to give us the tools to address inequalities. As of now we face major weaknesses in the delivery of these essential services. For education and training: there is a gap in education outcomes between individuals with different socio-economic backgrounds, which implies large amounts of wasted potential.

Participation in training activities reflects such inequalities and those with higher levels of basic skills proficiency are five times more likely to attend adult learning activities than low skilled individuals. For Health: the less educated and the poor are more likely to be in worse health and die prematurely than those in more favourable socio-economic circumstances. For example, individuals with lower levels of education have a lower life expectancy than the better educated across all European countries. Isolated territories with lack of transport infrastructures suffer from a lack of accessibility. The lack of provision for quality public transport can have a detrimental impact on social integration and employment. Finally, on Energy and more particularly energy poverty, today in Europe between 50 and 125 million people are unable to afford proper indoor thermal comfort.

Most EU countries have significant levels of energy poverty whilst the share of household expenditure spent on energy is rising in Europe, with increases more prominent in low-income families – whose expenditure increased by 33% between 2000 and 2014. The Romanian presidency of the Council put high on the agenda the topic of addressing inequalities and inclusive growth. CEEP will contribute to this debate by highlighting the critical importance of its members when addressing inequalities.

CEEP will participate next Thursday 28 February and Friday 1 March in a Kick-Off Meeting in the framework of the project “EQW&L – Equality for Work and Life”.

The EQ&WL project aims to define strategies and collaboration schemes which focus on Work-Life Balance, by promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships (PES, SMEs and social partners) and a nonstereotyped approach to Work-Life Balance. The project focuses on SMEs which represent those economic groups which offer more opportunities for women and face the greatest difficulties in implementing Work-Life Balance policies. Concrete tools which support this balance will be tested and then incorporated at EU level.

In the framework of this project, the concept of “Work-Life Balance” is understood in a broader way, namely as not being exclusively “women–centred”; it incorporates the encouragement of men participation in care duties as well as aspects of personal life which are not necessarily related to taking care of dependent persons.

EQ&WL will specifically address gender stereotypes and subconscious gender biases and will develop a business case for SMEs which invest in gender-balanced work-life balance policies, thus showing how these policies can benefit both workers and employers.

Therefore, the project is focused on three different levels:

  • System: proposing and testing strategies which can be used to support persons entering the labour market so as not to be marginalised due to their work-life balance needs;
  • Individuals: the new EQ&WL services will offer those people in search of a job the opportunity to recognise/address own specific work-life balance needs;
  • Companies: SMEs which offer relevant employment opportunities for women but face more difficulties than bigger corporations in implementing work-life balance policies.

The project implementation is organised in six phases. Amongst those, the project start-up will take place next Thursday 28 February and Friday 1 March in Rome, Italy, in the form of a Kick-Off Meeting. Overall, the project is designed to maximize opportunities for cross-regional comparison of findings.

Do not hesitate to contact CEEP Project Officer Carlotta Astori for more information.

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