Policy papers

CEEP Opinion “A strategic approach to pollution in the context of the upcoming evaluation of EU Water Legislation” – PDF

Executive summary

  • Precaution is the fundamental principle of drinking water legislation: The current Drinking Water Directive (DWD) is centered on a health-based understanding of water quality as opposed to a mere technical assessment of parametric values and based on precaution as the leading regulatory principle. Any revision needs to maintain and strengthen this focus to preserve the high level of quality currently provided to citizens and preserve raw water resources for future generations.
  • Polluters need to be held responsible for the damage they cause: Currently, the responsibility to ascertain low pollution of drinking water and the necessary resources lies almost exclusively with the water and sewage utilities. This “end-of-pipe” arrangement is both counter-productive and unsustainable: It leads to an externalization of the cost of pollution while the polluter is not taken into account, disincentivising any efforts to improve the situation. A stringent application of the “polluter pays” – principle throughout the value chain, including financial contributions by polluters as well as preventive and other measures is thus crucial to ensure a fair retribution of costs and the long-term sustainability of water services
  • EU-water legislation should provide comprehensive protection from the source onwards: The existing legislative framework encompasses a series of distinct directives designed to archive the same ends, thus offering a great potential for a comprehensive protection of “later-to be” drinking water at the source. Yet they are often not complementary, making a coherent implementation difficult. Improving overall coherence between the different elements of EU water legislation should thus be a priority during the upcoming or ongoing evaluation exercises, including but not limited to an alignment of relevant thresholds and taking into account not only individual pollutants, but also specific combinations thereof.
  • Poor implementation and enforcement hinders good policy outcome: Incomplete or delayed implementation at Member State level is one of the major causes of pollution. Correct implementation and stringent enforcement at all levels of government should thus be made a priority by Member States. In case of non-compliance the EU-Commission should make more frequent use of disciplinary measures, especially if violation of duties under EU legislation continues over longer periods of time.

CEEP Opinion on EU Trade Agreements, adopted by CEEP General Assembly on 08 June 2016 – PDF

Executive summary

  • CEEP wants to support a coherent implementation of the EU’s trade strategy and sees free trade agreements as an opportunity to set worldwide well-designed standards to support sustainable development, including by safeguarding subsidiarity and the essential role played by services of general interest (SGIs) and the social economy. Therefore:
    • More legal certainty is needed over the safeguard of the provision of SGIs in international trade agreements. Hence, CEEP calls European institutions, and notably the European Commission, to engage into a constructive debate on the possibility to include standard clauses to fully preserve the discretionary power of national, regional and local authorities in how to provide, organise, finance and commission SGIs, and notably services of general economic interest (SGEIs) subject to trade agreement rules.
    • The EU should pursue effectively the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 in its trade policy. Binding and enforceable provisions to promote high environmental and labour standards need to be included in all future FTAs negotiated by the EU and any attempt of social and environmental dumping should be prevented. Furthermore, EU Trade agreements need to ensure a better coherence between development goals and trade interests.
    • CEEP calls the European Commission and Member states to continue their efforts towards a more evidenced-based, inclusive and transparent trade policy. Furthermore, in a democratic system, competent authorities should not find it difficult to enact any standards because of fearing to be challenged by corporate claims.
    • Trade agreements need to be fit for the digital age. Cross-border data flows, if addressed, shall be in compliance with data protection and security rules in force in the country of residence of the data subject. New services should not be automatically included in EU market access commitments without re-negotiation. In addition, the “digital dimension” of products and services shall be negotiated in the context of their respective original classifications.

CEEP Opinion “For an Inclusive EU SME Policy”, adopted by the CEEP General Assembly on 08 June 2016 – PDF. A short version of the Opinion is also available here.

Executive summary

  • The current European legal definition (Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) does not encompass the majority of local public services enterprises (LPSEs) from its scope because it excludes enterprises with a public ownership of more than 25%.
  • The SME definition is widely used both in European and national legislation, as well as in EU financing programmes, in response to the EU policy priorities and more recently the Better regulation agenda.
  • However, it appears that the EU SME Definition unnecessarily discriminates against LPSEs for the very nature of their ownership structure. This is notably contrary to article 345 TFEU which states that “The Treaties shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States governing the system of property ownership”.
  • As a consequence, LPSEs cannot take part in a number of funding and financial schemes. They are also constrained by unnecessary and especially disproportionate regulatory burden from which other SMEs covered by the definition are exempted because of disproportionate costs, and therefore may suffer a disadvantage, especially in areas where they are in competition with private enterprises.
  • Hence, an amendment to the European SME definition is required in order to guarantee equal treatment to all types of SMEs irrespectively of their type of ownership. Should this not be possible or not desired, future reference to the SME definition should exclude Article 3, Paragraph 4 of the Annex to the aforementioned Commission Recommendation.

CEEP Opinion “Gender Equality: “Progressing to 2020””, adopted by CEEP General Assembly on 08 June 2016 – PDF

Executive summary

  • CEEP and its members are committed to promoting gender equality both in their role as employers and as service providers.
  • CEEP emphasizes how important it is for the Commission to acknowledge the role of CEEP and the social partners’ and their work on gender quality. We also stress the importance of safeguarding and strengthening our autonomy at both European and national level.
  • A balanced way forward to meet the gender equality challenges would be to take a holistic approach and focus on supportive and encouraging measures.
  • To achieve gender equality in the labour market there must be a range of effective and well-funded public services in place such as child- and elderly care, transport, education etc.
  • The interconnection between work-life conditions greatly influence women’s and men’s situation at the labour market as well as their private life.
  • CEEP wants to stress the important role played by social partners in tackling the gender pay gap and promoting equal pay through collective bargaining.
  • The need for increased awareness of the consequences that different kinds of leave and flexible working have on income and subsequently pensions
  • The business case for gender equality needs to be developed and shared widely.
  • The current European legislative framework on gender equality is robust and    provides protection. There is no need, therefore, to amend the current European legislation or to introduce new instruments. It is better to focus on the implementation on existing regulations.
  • CEEP believes that it is important to have a multiannual European strategy for Gender Equality in place in order to keep these issues high on the European agenda.

CEEP Opinion “Harnessing the Digital Transformation of Public Services”, adopted by CEEP General Assembly on 16 May 2016 – PDF

Executive summary

  • It is essential that policy-makers adopt a broad concept of industry and recognise the importance of public services, beyond e-government, to ensure a successful digital transformation of the European economy in which all players in the digital value chain are empowered to innovate and diffuse the benefits of their investment the whole society.
  • Public services have to deliver services to all citizens. An inclusive digital transformation requires the right policy responses to deepen the penetration of digital infrastructure in rural areas and increase the digital skills of more segments of the population. Furthermore, policy choices should leave flexibility and be technologically neutral, allowing public services’ providers to find cost-effective solutions to adapt services to citizens’ needs.
  • Increasing transparency, trust and security in the digital economy is a core concern to public services providers which have a strong expertise in dealing with sensitive data and securing essential infrastructure. The elaboration of clear and effective guidance following the approval of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requires the inclusion of all stakeholders in the discussions. Furthermore, public services’ providers are committed to contributing to the discussions on data ownership and liability.
  • The future of public services lies in horizontal integration. Important synergies between infrastructures could be created within one organisation and beyond, for instance in the context of smart cities. It is essential to develop effective ICT standards which enable interoperability between different domains, in strong partnership with end-users.
  • Managing the impacts of the digital revolution on the workforce will be a major challenge for public services. It will require retraining and attracting employees and management able to master the digital world. Hence it is essential that initiatives such as the Grand coalition for jobs take a holistic approach including all sectors.
  • Public services’ employers will have to deal with the impacts of the digital transformation on the labour market. In order to create a fair digital economy for enterprises of all sizes and sectors and for workers, the European Commission needs to work hand in hand with the social partners to assess the impacts of digitalisation on the labour market.

CEEP Opinion on the State of the Energy Union 2015, adopted by CEEP General Assembly on 16 May 2016 – PDF

Executive summary

  • CEEP welcomes the First State of the Energy Union as a clear step towards more reliability of European energy and climate policies. CEEP therefore supports the Commission’s attempt to realise reliable national energy and climate plans. They should ensure a more coherent approach towards the achievement of the objectives of the EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, while avoiding to limit Member States in the choice for their way towards decarbonisation.
  • CEEP encourages the European Commission to involve social partners even more in the whole process and to keep citizens and customers at the heart of the transition of the European energy system. More than ever, public acceptance is indispensable for the successful implementation of energy and climate policies. In this context, a stronger focus on the local and regional dimension of the Energy Union, with the inclusion of citizens beyond their sole capacity as consumers, would also be helpful.
  • As heating and cooling account for half of Europe’s final energy demand, CEEP very much welcomes that the Heating and Cooling Strategy sends out a clear sign in favour of efficient and sustainable solutions. We very much welcome that this has already been announced by the State of the Energy Union, among others by underlining the good example of high-efficiency combined heat and power (CHP).
  • A fully-integrated internal energy market should indeed be at the heart of the Energy Union project, among others through the full implementation of the Third Energy Package and a market based approach to renewables. As in the medium to long run the energy-only market will not be sufficient to ensure security of supply, a new market design that values the provision of firm capacity should be developed.
  • CEEP very much welcomes the holistic approach that the State of the Energy Union announces for upcoming Commission initiatives and is particularly delighted by the recognition of the crucial role of transport. The decarbonisation of this sector has to be tackled more than in the past through concrete action at EU level.
  • CEEP members need the right conditions to actively anticipate and manage the energy transition and therefore welcome that this crucial issue is highlighted in the State of the Energy Union, among others in view of its skills dimension.

CEEP Opinion on the Commission’s Proposal for a Circular Economy Strategy and Reviewed Waste Legislation, appoved by CEEP General Assembly on 16 May 2016 –PDF

Executive summary

  • CEEP welcomes the European Commission’s Circular Economy Strategy and the legislative proposals on waste for their holistic approach, taking into account the whole value chain. They are an important step towards a more circular economy in which resource efficiency becomes the key driver for both economic growth and environmental protection.
  • CEEP agrees that waste prevention has rightly been placed at the top of the waste hierarchy. This includes in particular improved product design, influencing the whole product lifecycle and durability of a product and thus optimising its future reuse and recycling. EU legislation needs to be further adapted in order to support this ambition.
  • CEEP supports the Commission’s proposal to introduce clear definitions into waste legislation and welcomes that the definition of municipal waste is closely aligned with the one given by the European Waste Catalogue and the OECD. However, CEEP pleads that the definitions of both municipal waste and bio-waste should refer solely to their nature, property and composition, and not their quantity.
  • CEEP underlines that the proposed recycling targets for municipal waste are very ambitious. Recycling measures should be further boosted in the European Union. This should be done as long as recovery of secondary raw material is less expensive and resource intensive than primary raw material extraction. It should also be kept in mind that primary and secondary raw materials need to be treated equally in a way that same environmental requirements should apply to both.
  • CEEP welcomes the introduction of minimum requirements for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes while leaving it in the remit of the Member States to decide on the use of this instrument. Nevertheless, more clarification is needed in order to avoid misinterpretations, in particular regarding cost recovery and the relation between organisations in charge of the implementation of EPR schemes and public waste management operators.
  • CEEP asks for a quick landfill ban for biodegradable waste as well as for waste that can be recycled or thermally recovered. Such a ban needs to be introduced in all Member States as this would be the most effective way to support waste prevention, reuse, recycling and other efficient ways of recovery.

CEEP Opinion on the Review of the Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC (DWD), adopted by CEEP General Assembly on 16 May 2016 – PDF

Executive summary

  • The Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC (DWD) has been and still is a well-functioning European legal instrument contributing to the supply of wholesome and clean drinking water throughout the EU. The DWD should be kept in place and further improved.
  • CEEP welcomes the elaboration of policy options for the introduction of integrated source-to-tap Risk Based Approaches in the DWD. This elaboration should include considerations of subsidiarity and flexibility at Member States’ level to leave room for approaches tailored to the legal and institutional framework in Member States.
  • CEEP stresses the need for better integration of the protection of drinking water resources in the administrative arrangements, Programme of Measures and River Basin Management Plans under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The revision of the DWD should therefore include the introduction of a cross-reference to Water Framework Directive, in particular Article 7 thereof, the Groundwater Directive and the Priority Substances Directive.
  • The precautionary principle should be kept as a leading principle in setting drinking water quality standards and environmental quality standards for source water.
  • The revision of the DWD should include a sound legal basis (health/hygienic requirements) for the harmonised acceptance of materials and chemicals in contact with drinking water, taking full account of the work on the 4MS Common Approach.
  • Objective and scope of the DWD should be kept unchanged. Issues such as benchmarking, water as a human right, costs should be addressed separately from the revision of the DWD.

CEEP Statement on Trade and Sustainable Development Chapter in TTIP – PDF Version


SGIs, core actors of sustainable development

On 6 November 2015 the European Commission released its proposal on the sustainable development chapter for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This chapter shall guarantee the commitment of both parties to pursue high environmental and labour standards. The proposal – which does not yet include any provisions on institutional and enforcement matters – has been tabled by the EU and discussed by both parties during the 11th round of negotiation in Miami. Earlier in October the European Commission also published its new Trade Strategy “Trade for All”.

In order to promote the labour and environment pillars of sustainable development, the European Commission commits to be ambitious and innovative on sustainable development chapters in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), as well as to focus on its implementation. This shall include “far-reaching commitments on all core labour rights” in line with the core ILO Conventions and ILO Decent Work Agenda as well as “far-reaching commitments on environmental protection” in relation to multilateral environment agreements. The Commission further promises to be coherent across all relevant areas of FTAs.

CEEP welcomes these steps and commits to support their effective implementation. In order to shape a fair and sustainable globalisation, public services providers and employers gathered within CEEP strongly believe that trade policy has to follow the logics of sustainability which means an economic action taking into account social and environmental objectives. Overall, the EU should more effectively pursue the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 in its trade strategy.

In this context, CEEP would like to stress the importance of safeguarding the essential role played by services of general interest (SGIs). They play a key role in the realisation of the 2030 Goals and in making them a reality in the daily life of citizens and businesses. Thanks to the services provided, citizens have the possibility to become active in the labour market and enterprises have the possibility to reinforce their competitiveness. In many countries, not only in the EU, specific economic models exist to deliver affordable SGIs and guarantee universal access. The recognition of their role in trade agreements has been a core CEEP priority and is in turn also a condition to achieve sustainable development in its social, environmental and economic dimensions.

In order to promote sustainable development, CEEP believes that trade agreements should:

  • Include binding and enforceable provisions to promote high environmental and labour standards in all future FTAs negotiated by the EU. Any attempt of social and environmental dumping should be prevented;
  • Acknowledge the existence of market failures to respond to certain societal challenges and safeguard the role of SGIs;
  • Consider and avoid any adverse effects on third countries;

All these considerations have to be taken into account beyond the Sustainable Development Chapter.


The contribution of Public service employers and providers

CEEP can bring a significant expertise and support to the implementation of the sustainable development chapter of FTAs. The principles underpinning sustainable development are at the core of the concerns and daily activities of public services providers and employers gathered within CEEP. Since 2008, CEEP awards enterprises and organisations providing SGIs with outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility commitments at the CEEP CSR Label.

Enterprises providing public services are particularly committed to environmental and social objectives and typically combine them with economic and competitiveness concerns. First of all, their business culture puts services in the interest of the public at the centre of their values. Furthermore, they are active in sectors that are called to play a central role in the realisation of those objectives.

As a cross-sectoral social partner, CEEP is directly involved in shaping industrial relations and its members ensure the implementation of social and labour standards at the national level. CEEP is committed to reinforce employment levels in Europe, to achieve a better sustainability of social protection systems, to contribute to capacity building of social partners organisations wherever they are not strong enough and to actively shape and contribute to workers’ protection in the workplace.


An ambitious sustainable development chapter for TTIP

There is a huge potential for TTIP to foster the values of sustainable development and set a standard for a renewed global trade policy which contributes to shaping a fair and sustainable globalisation. European and American investors must not only be granted with rights, but should also be subject to obligations in order to contribute to promote compliance with environmental and labour standards worldwide.

Parties need to take a strong commitment on the protection and the promotion of high labour and environmental standards. In this regard, the current EU textual proposal on trade and sustainable development is comprehensive referring to the core standards of the most important international environmental and labour agreements and declarations. In addition, TTIP should build on the Paris Agreement. Also, it is important that the EU proposes that parties commit to not lower their labour and environmental standards, while remaining free to define policies and measures that they feel appropriate. Finally, a close monitoring by and involvement of social partners and civil society will be essential to ensure the successful implementation of the sustainability chapter.

Specific comments on social aspects

Core standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) should be enshrined in FTAs. In particular, as cross-sectoral social partner at EU level, we believe that it is fundamental that trade agreements support and strengthen the important role of social dialogue. Working towards a better recognition of the different core ILO conventions and their protocols in trade agreements has the potential to foster upwards levels of protection and reinforce social protection systems. Therefore, CEEP welcomes that the EU proposes to promote trade and investment relations with the USA in a manner conducive to the realisation of the Decent Work Agenda as expressed through the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation.

Specific comments on environmental aspects

TTIP should include a strong commitment on the adoption and effective implementation of core environmental agreements. In particular, parties should include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the group of environmental agreements. They should specifically refer to the Paris Agreement concluded on 19 December 2015 and include strong wording on the effective implementation of its three building blocks: mitigation, adaptation and financing (cfr. CEEP Opinion on COP21).

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