CEEP Opinion – Brexit, Trade and SGIs “Reflection on brexit and trade: possible options” – PDF
- CEEP intends to contribute to the Brexit debate by identifying reflection tracks towards ensuring level-playing field in a post-Brexit EU-UK relationship, in which providers of public services and of SGIs can operate for the benefits of citizens and companies.
- Brexit will have fundamental political, economic and legal consequences for both sides. These consequences will be shaped by the features of the agreement that is currently being negotiated. The two parties will have to reach an agreement in the following three main areas: First, the United Kingdom and the EU will need to agree on the regime for the trade of goods and services. Second, new rules are needed for migration. Third, the United Kingdom needs to be disentangled legally from the European Union (European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018).
- In this statement, CEEP argues that solutions like the free trade agreement with Canada (CETA) do not justice to the close European ties between the UK and the EU. A comprehensive, but flexible free trade agreement with much EU acquis and deep and comprehensive content, such as the DCFTA currently in force between the EU and Ukraine, seems most likely able to meet interconnection requirements between both countries and to foster cooperation and common policy-making in the future. Therefore, it is highly desirable for the economic prosperity of the EU and the UK.
- The future trade negotiations for free trade agreements like the DCFTA should respect environmental, social and security standards. Especially, the possibility to amend the agreement in view of political or economic developments is crucial given the geographic, historical, political and economic relations between the European Union member states and the United Kingdom. A DCFTA oriented agreement can assure a high degree of access to the EU single market, at least for trade in goods, but not necessarily for movement of people and services.
CEEP Position Paper on a Future European Labour Authority – PDF
- The creation of the European Labour Authority should strengthen cooperation between labour market authorities at all levels and lead to the better management of cross-border situations, as well as to further initiatives in support of fair mobility, and proper coordination of European Social Security schemes.
- CEEP wishes for three principles to be respected by the future ELA:
- The Principle of subsidiarity and member states’ own authorities must be respected.
- ELA must leave space for the different labour market models and priorities Member States may have. It is crucial that a European labour authority does not touch on the autonomy of the social partners and the key role that they play.
- The ELA should not have any supra-national competences. It should concern itself with improving the enforcement of existing rules, facilitating intra-EU mobility and promote mutual learning between National authorities.
CEEP Opinion on the Proposal on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions in the European Union Repealing Directive 91/553/EEC – PDF
- CEEP opposes changing the purpose of the Written Statement Directive from an information instrument to a rights-based framework Directive. The proposed minimum requirements relating to working conditions are new rights seen in a European perspective, as they have always been core elements of national laws and collective agreements and contracts.
- The Proposal conflicts with the principle of subsidiarity, i.e. the principle that EU decisions should be taken as close to citizens as possible. There are great differences between EU Member States regarding both what constitutes balanced working conditions and how the labour market is regulated. The EU Proposal would constitute excessive interference with the labour market model of several Member States, especially those regulating working conditions by collective agreements.
- In Europe, we have a vast variety of social- and labour market models and different traditions. Many of CEEP’s members have a strong and long-standing tradition for wage and working conditions to be regulated by social partners through collective agreements. It ensures flexibility and adaptability in relation to labour market developments, the differences in the different sectors and a balance of both parties’ interests.
- CEEP emphasizes the necessity to respect the social partners’ autonomy and their right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate level as stated in Principle 8 of the European Social Pillars Rights.
- CEEP finds it unfortunate that the European Commission introduces within its proposal the definitions for employees and employers in order to define the employment relationship within the scope of article 2. This approach takes a different path from the long tradition of the application of EU Social Law, which is by definition in the hands of the Member States.
- CEEP agrees with the principle that workers should have the right to be informed about their rights and obligations resulting from the employment relationship in a timely and comprehensible manner. At the same time, the obligations imposed on the employer should be realistic and feasible. CEEP suggests several adaptations to allow of a sound application of the Directive without creating a disproportionate administrative burden for both the employer and the worker.
- CEEP acknowledges the need for protection of workers that are not covered by a collective agreement and the need for minimum rights for those. Nonetheless it is very important that this Directive ensures the right for national social partners to enter into collective agreements that are not governed by the minimum provisions. An agreement made by national social partners must be regarded as a guarantee of secure and fair working conditions and the European Court of Justice should honor the content of such collective agreements. Conditions in collective agreements cannot be seen in isolation, but must be seen as a whole, giving regard to all conditions in collective agreements that apply to a worker.
CEEP Key Messages on the Commission Proposal for the Review of the Directive on the Re-Use of Public Sector Information (PSI Directive) – PDF
CEEP Opinion on the EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 – PDF
- CEEP is convinced of the added value of the EU budget and believes that there are clear margins of manoeuver to make it more efficient and relevant. The financial discussions for the upcoming Multi-Annual Financial Framework should be linked with the debates on the Future of the EU. It is important to agree on the Europe we want for the future and attach corresponding resources to the established priorities.
- Transversal principles
- EU Added Value: The EU added value should become one of the key criteria for the successful use of EU funds and thus also for the success of cohesion policy. A stable union means a stable economic and monetary union.
- Flexibility: Funding committed should remain available in the budget and re-allocated to other programmes. This rule should be flexible enough to adapt to new political circumstances during the implementation of the MFF.
- Simplification and Administrative Barriers: CEEP urges the EC to reduce the administrative burden of EU funds management. The EU budget is pressured by the need to be more efficient, to focus on areas where its impact is greatest and to ensure that burdensome rules and procedures do not hinder the achievement of its goals.
- Going beyond GDP. The distribution principles of the EU structural funding should not be exclusively based on the GDP criterion but cover alternative indicators – such as poverty rate, youth and long-term unemployment or the activity rate of vulnerable groups – addressing other EU’s most pressing concerns, in line with the principles proclaimed in the EU Pillar of Social Rights.
- Our Priorities for the Future MFF
- Strategic Infrastructure: Public investment in key physical and social infrastructures are the main levers to foster growth. The MFF provides a key opportunity for reinforcing their financing. Tools such as the EFSI are also considered by CEEP members as critical.
- Circular economy: it should be a key feature in future funds because of its transversal aspects and multiple effects for citizens. Fostering innovation through circular economic solutions could enable the EU to build a new way to make business, to promote industrial research and to create new jobs protecting the environment.
- European Economic and Social Governance: CEEP favours greater technical assistance to all Member States in improving their institutional and administrative capacities for implementing structural reforms.
- Economic, Social, Territorial Cohesion and the ESF+: CEEP members advocate for a pre-allocation of 25% of the cohesion funds to the future ESF+ and at least keeping the ESF+ budget at the level of the previous programming period (2014 – 2020), including the ESF, Youth Employment initiative and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived. The ESF should remain an EU Structural Fund, and not be expanded to cover priorities beyond its core goals (employment, education, social inclusion and the fight against poverty). CEEP members advocate for maintaining a pre-allocation of 30% of the ESF objectives of addressing poverty and social exclusion.
- Investing in Social Dialogue: It is urgent to develop a mechanism for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Code of Conduct on Partnership by the Member States and make respect of its principles an ex-ante conditionality in the preparation and implementation of operational programmes.
CEEP Opinion on the European Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe – PDF
- Our commitment to contribute to the discussions on the Future of Europe comes with the recommendation to render the reflection as inclusive as possible. Europe is not only “Brussels”, and we now need to give back ownership of the EU project to citizens. EU institutions should be in position to rely on national, regional and local parliaments and authorities to genuinely involve citizens in the reflection on the Future of Europe.
- CEEP believes that the Future of the EU should rely on a combination of 3 of the scenarios brought up by the European Commission: “Carrying on”, “Doing less more efficiently” and “Doing much more together”.
- “Carrying on”: as raising populism and Euroscepticism is more about how national leaders and authorities are using the “EU blanket” to cover their failures than about the EU as such, “carrying on” can only work against a changed political mindset, especially at Members States level. It could however prove useful for certain specific policy initiatives, such as the Circular Economy Strategy and the EU Strategy for Low-emission Mobility which are priorities for all Member States.
- “Doing less more efficiently”, in line with the principle “To be big on big things, and small on small things”: Our members regularly reported suffering from over-regulation. They welcome this approach, dealing with key strategic fields for their daily operation, such as the Energy Union or the Digital Single Market. This scenario can work properly in several fields, especially in sectoral policies (such as climate and energy legislations) and the state aid rules, leaving more flexibility to Member States, regional and local authorities.
- “Doing much more together”: this option must be applied to answer key challenges calling for cross border cooperation, such as the integration of refugees, fiscal policies, a limited set of social policies, cohesion policy and the EU budget. However, we call on the EU institutions to respect the principle of subsidiarity, and not take action (except in the areas that fall within its exclusive competence) if national, regional or local level is better placed.
- SGIs have a key role to play in the endeavour to improve the performance of public administrations and enterprises, so as to equip them to better cope with the consequences of the economic and financial crises and the challenges of the changing socio-economic models. To ensure proper SGIs and to safeguard EU competitiveness in the future, we call to:
- Bring the Acquis Communautaire for Services of General Interest to life: Acquis+;
- Put SGIs at the heart of sustainable growth;
- Foster social and territorial cohesion;
- Support SGIs providers in innovation;
- Unleash investments.
CEEP Opinion on the Reflection paper on the Social Dimension of Europe – PDF
- CEEP members are committed to supporting upward social and economic convergence between Member States and regions. It is critical today to identify which of the paths ahead is the most realistic and achievable to realise this ambition.
- It remains critical to recall that a unique model that would work for every country does not exist and that only Member States can anticipate the implications of policy initiatives at national, regional and local level.
- As social partners and as representatives of providers of public services and SGIs, the scenario “Nothing but the Single Market” can surely be excluded. The Single Market is, and should remain, a tool to achieve sustainable growth, territorial and social cohesion. It should not be an end nor the only goal of the European Union.
- The option for enhanced cooperation should not be established as the main scenario for the future of the EU as it could lead to blocking the EU. There must be limits to differentiation so as to dilute the risk of excessive complexity, and therefore a lack of visibility.
- There is potential in the scenario “deepen the EU Social Dimension together” and CEEP intends to highlight the following proposals as priorities:
- To ensure that a genuine EMU is supported by the EU citizens, national reform programmes need to be secured with proper social dialogue.
- EU-wide societal benchmarks and good practice guidelines on access to child-care services, active ageing and access to enabling services should also be integrated within the social dimension of the European Semester.
- Quantifiable European employment and social targets should be integrated within the stability and growth pact rules that govern debt and deficit targets.
- Short-term economic efficiency must not be at the expense of longer-term investment in social infrastructures.
Opinion on the European Commission Reflection Paper on Deepening the EMU – PDF
- For CEEP the reflection paper on the future of the EMU should help start considering the Euro zone as a whole and not just as the sum of its individual components. CEEP always considered public investment in key physical and social infrastructures as the main lever to foster growth for the benefit of citizens and enterprises in Europe.
- CEEP calls for greater involvement of social partners in the design and monitoring of reforms, whilst ensuring that sufficient support is provided for capacity-building activities for social partners engaged in reform programmes.
- The preparation of the new EU multiannual financial framework, stronger support to reforms and greater links to euro area are clearly identified by CEEP as the main priorities. We advocate the establishment of a self-supporting structural reform support programme under the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
- CEEP believes that a macroeconomic stabilisation function at euro area level could potentially complement automatic stabilisers at national level under certain conditions. It should take the form of automatic stabilisation and not aim at fiscal fine-tuning of the economic cycle. The stabilisation function would therefore not be a tool to actively steer the euro area fiscal stance, but rather reduce the need for euro area countries to address large country-specific shocks by using discretionary policies.
- CEEP members could see added value in further elaborating a European treasury, particularly to ensure minimum levels of public investments across Europe. However, CEEP expresses strong doubts on whether the EU would be politically ready to move so strongly toward federalization by 2025. This roadmap seems unrealistic in the present state of the Union.
- CEEP would be in favour of nominating a special Commissioner for EMU governance or a European finance Minister which would be entrusted with drawing up the macroeconomic policy of the EU while mediating with the EU institutions.
CEEP Opinion on the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances – PDF
- Overall, CEEP agrees with the European Commission’s (EC) assessment that at a time when Europe must decide on its future, the EU needs a budget that is fit for purpose and makes every euro work for its citizens. The EU should look for greater synergies between EU funds, national public funds and private money in order to face the major challenges that lay ahead (the ecological, digital, demographic transitions).
- On cohesion policy: CEEP strongly opposes any of the white paper’s scenarios which would scale down the EU’s efforts in relation to cohesion policy. Consequently, CEEP invites the Commission, on the contrary, to present a comprehensive legislative proposal for a strong and effective post-2020 cohesion policy.
- On flexibility: CEEP agrees with the EC assessment that the EU should be able to react effectively and quickly to unforeseen events such as the current migration challenge. Increasing the flexibility should be done in a way that does not harm the function of the budget.
- On the link with the EU Semester: CEEP strongly supports the reinforcement of the link between the European cohesion policy and the European Semester to encourage and to better support structural reforms.
- On defining a European added value as a criterion for EU funds: CEEP agrees that European added value should become one of the key criteria for the successful use of EU funds and thus also for the success of cohesion policy. This criterion should be exactly defined from the beginning.
- On financial instruments: In the context of fiscal austerity and of a growing pressure to maintain or even reduce the EU budget, a well-programmed and efficient multiannual financial framework is crucially important. In this respect, financial instruments are particularly well suited to address financially viable projects that have potential to generate returns.
- On administrative barriers: CEEP urges the EC to address the need to reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries. The EU budget is pressured by the need to be more efficient, really based on simplification, to focus on the areas where its impact is greatest and to ensure that burdensome rules and procedures do not hinder the achievement of its goals.
- On communication: The increased visibility of the EU action is vital to fight Euroscepticism and can contribute to regaining citizens’ confidence and trust. CEEP highlights that a greater focus must be placed on the content and results of programmes in order to improve the visibility of EU action.
CEEP Opinion on the Reflection paper ‘Harnessing globalisation’: The EU in a Globalised World – PDF
- CEEP welcomes the European Commission’s reflection paper on “Harnessing Globalisation” and gives its support to a sustainable and innovative EU strategy to shape globalisation, set standards and preserve the diversified European ways of living.
- In general, CEEP believes that:
- Services of general economic interest (SGEIs) and non-economic services of general interest (NESGIs) play a crucial role in providing everyone with a decent lifestyle.
- The EU experiences globalisation directly and this is particularly visible in European metropoles.
- Sustainability and innovation are the key concepts that provide the framework for thriving lives and entrepreneurial undertakings.
- The world of tomorrow is not only about digitalisation, but also very much about the fundamental question “in what kind of society and economic order do citizens want to live and what type of social and-economic objectives do they want to pursue?”
- Therefore, CEEP presents the following recommendations on how the European Institutions and Member States can implement their strategy:
- The EU should recognise the legislative provisions for services of general interest (SGI) as an Acquis+. SGIs provide citizens with accessible and qualitative services and serve as safety nets, help build citizenship and foster communal spirit. They promote an entrepreneurship-friendly climate that foster the development of metropolitan regions. For this reason, the EU should invest in research on “best practising” metropolitan regions and in transnational infrastructure networks.
- The EU and the Member States need to invest more in research and human capital through education and concrete lifelong learning opportunities. CEEP suggests that the EU and the Member States should provide risk capital for innovation and pioneering spirit and establish dynamic administrative structures.
- The EU should also better use the available resources to adapt to demographic ageing. This requires the facilitated inclusion of ageing and disadvantaged people in the work force. Furthermore, differences between rural and metropolitan areas must be reduced through EU-wide stronger cooperation. For a balanced lifestyle, adapting “best practices” and considering them in legislation making is recommended.