Press

 “A real Circular Economy: Which actors to involve, which measures to take?”
Conference, 02/06/2016, 16:00-18:00, at the IFAT
(in Munich, Germany)

At the IFAT[1] in Munich, CEEP organises in cooperation with VKU a conference “A real Circular Economy: Which actors to involve, which measures to take?”. It will bring together representatives of stakeholders driving forward the European circular economy and decision-makers from the European Commission and the Dutch EU Presidency to analyse the next steps regarding the EU Circular Economy Strategy.

This conference will be the opportunity to present the CEEP Opinion on the Circular Economy Strategy and the legislative proposals on waste. It is also a chance for providers of public services to restate their commitment to the principles of the circular economy, as organisations active in sectors such as waste management, energy, housing, transport and water.
The Circular Economy Strategy and in particular the legislative proposals on waste are central to ensure that resource efficiency becomes the key driver for both economic growth and environmental protection. CEEP embraces the Strategy as it represents an outstanding opportunity to realize the objective of a sustainable economy. It has the potential to show that economic rationality, environmental protection and social responsibility are not in contradiction with each other, but that they can reinforce each other. It underlines that it is not about choosing between the protection of the environment on the one hand, and growth and jobs on the other, but about achieving benefits in all these fields.

“We are now calling for a swift realisation of the Strategy and no further delay in implementing the legislative proposals on waste. Our members are the ideal interlocutor to ensure the feasibility of the proposals and their effective implementation and they want to contribute actively to the move towards a more circular economy”, emphasized Filippo Brandolini, CEEP Vice-President.

For his last participation in the Tripartite Social Summit, CEEP President Hans-Joachim Reck addressed Council President Tusk, Commission President Juncker and Prime Minister Rutte with the main messages of public services’ providers and employers on the migration and refugee crisis.

His speech focused on two key aspects: the need to restore a fully-functioning Schengen area and the challenge for public services’ employers.

 

The threat to the Schengen space:

“Above all, we should answer the main concern of European citizens, enterprises and all economic actors: restore the full functioning of the Schengen space. It is not only a cornerstone of the European single market; it is the most concrete and tangible achievement for European citizens. This space of freedom is now in jeopardy, and its complete break-up would lead to estimated losses of more than EUR 18 billion per year. Despite all this, some Member States have not reconsidered their actions.

For this reason, we critically need the EU institutions to address this unprecedented situation in a common work programme engaging all Member States, aiming at the full restoration of the Schengen space.

 

The challenge for public services’ employers

“Employers and providers of public services are on the front line, especially those operating at regional and local level. They rely on the support of the EU and Member States when facing the challenge of providing the necessary basic services in terms of health, housing, education, water provision and all kinds of basic services of general interest at a time when resources are increasingly scarce, and are asked to do so without causing reductions in services to local communities.

Some local public services can no longer cope with the inflow of refugees and are turning to Europe for solutions.  We therefore call upon the EU institutions to ensure the availability of sufficient resources for public services to allow both the EU and Member States to deal adequately with the inflow of refugees.

Our members are also at the heart of the solutions to properly integrate refugees into the labour market, which will be a determining element to ensure they contribute to the sustainability of our Welfare States and to a renewed economic growth. 

Without being a silver bullet against ageing population, immigration has a positive effect for our members. Due to the demographic changes and limited recruitment during the crisis, the workforce in public services is ageing quicker than in the rest of the economy, with almost 30% of its workforce over 50 years old. This will lead to a shortage of workers in public services in the very near future. We need both highly qualified and low qualified workers in core sectors such as waste management, transport, energy and health services. Assessing, testing and screening skills and competences is therefore a cornerstone for the inclusion of migrants into labour markets in Europe, and must go together with the organisation of integration courses, housing, language learning classes and other education and training measures.

That is why the inclusion and integration of refugees into society, particularly through the workplace, has to be a common commitment of all Member States, in both transit and destination countries.

 

On top of Mr Reck’s speech, CEEP penned a joint declaration with the economic and social partners (CEEP, ETUC, BusinessEurope, UEAPME and EuroChambres) on the issue.

CEEP also presented to President Tusk, President Juncker and Prime Minister Rutte its Spring 2016 Pulse of Public Services, survey presenting the challenges faced by employers of public services and their views regarding the current and future economic situation, as well as a joint declaration of the Public Services’ Employers Forum (PSEF) on digitalisation

In views of the Tripartite Social Summit, CEEP, the ETUC, BusinessEurope, UEAPME and EuroChambres penned the following joint statement on the refugee crisis.

logos joint refugees

1. Since the refugee crisis started in 2013, the EU Member States have received about 2 millions refugees. More than 1 million have arrived in 2015 and another million are expected in 2016 because of the persisiting conflicts.

2. Responding to the unprecendented flows of migrants into Europe is urgent. The Council does not yet address the key challenges for managing the humanitarian crisis on Europe’s borders in a common programme of work. A stronger cooperation among member states is the only solution to the extraordinary flows of refugees arriving in the EU, which have led some Member States to close their borders, putting at risk the Schengen acquis.

3. Schengen is one of the most tangible achievements of the benefits of European integration for citizens and companies. Damaging or breaking the Schengen area will seriously disrupt value chains and will ultimately destroy jobs and reduce wealth. In particular, effective control of the EU’s external borders is essential. Adequate financial means are necessary to allow Frontex to play its role, while ensuring that international protection is available to those who are in need for it, according to the EU Treaties and to international law.

4. Integration of asylum-seekers and refugees in the labour market is essential. Europe’s population is ageing. In a number of member states, the workforce is starting to shrink. Many unfilled vacancies, in both qualified and unqualified functions, co-exist with high unemployment throughout Europe. This undermines our overall future growth prospects. Besides necessary measures to make better use of our labour markets and to improve intra-EU mobility, legal migration from third countries is part of the answer to ensure our future prosperity and overcome demographic change challenges. It is in our interest to ensure that people from around the world who have skills needed on our labour markets regard Europe as an attractive destination to study, live in and work legally.

5. Integrating people rightly staying in Europe in training, employment and society in general is crucial. The organisation of integration courses, housing, language learning classes and other education and training measures is a responsibility of public authorities and society as a whole. However, economic and social partners are taking a large number of initiatives to contribute to this.

6. The issue of assessment, testing and screening of skills and competences is a cornerstone of a revitalised policy for labour market inclusion of asylum-seekers and refugees in Europe. It is crucial to increase capacities of all players within the integration chain to help validation of skills and skill matching; this exercise has to be tailored to the specific conditions of people who could not plan their migration project. The different layers of integration paths (language learning, civic education, social assistance, balance of competences, labour market activism) are not always well integrated and do not work in synergy. This is an impediment for smooth and right-based inclusion in the labour market.

7. To foster a better integration and fair participation in the labour market is the only way to build solidarity and social cohesion and prevent further social unrest and rejection of refugees and migrant populations.

8. The key issues, in our shared view,
– are the need for a joint, Europe-wide solution involving all EU Member States, in a fair, balanced and responsible manner, factoring in skills analysis / validation and national / regional economic needs;
– furthermore, the inclusion and integration of refugees that are granted permission to remain in the EU into society, particularly in the labour market has to be a common goal of all member states.

 

European economic and social partners underline:
A. their commitment and willingness to work with governments and other stakeholders to design and to develop policies to support inclusion. Employer organisations in the public and private sectors, chambers of commerce and industry, chambers of skilled crafts, and trade unions, as well as other actors, have an important role to play and are committed to promote and support the inclusion of refugees into work and society.

B. the numerous national actions engaging employers, chambers of commerce and industry as well as trade unions in the integration of refugees and migrants. We agree that employers have to rely on a stable and skilled workforce adapted to their needs. We agree that inclusion into work must be on the basis of guaranteeing equality of opportunity and treatment between national and migrant workers, taking into account the objective situation of refugees as part of active labour market instruments available to job-seekers.

C. the need for a coordinated, pan-European programme for the provision of VET, apprenticeship to refugees/migrants which encompasses transit countries – both within the EU and neighbouring states – as well as the countries of destination.

D. the challenge facing local public services, as they confront the need to improve the capacity of newly arrived people to contribute to the local labour market at a time when resources are increasingly scarce, without causing reductions in services to local communities.

E. the impact of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees on public services, and the need for Member States to use the built-in flexibility within the Stability and Growth Pact to deal with the fiscal consequences of the refugee crisis.

F. that migration, when properly managed, can play an important role in addressing the increasing old-age dependency ratio deriving from the ageing of European populations.

In views of the Tripartite Social Summit, members of the Public Services’ Employers’ Forum (PSEF) adopted the following joint declaration:

psef

The digital era is transforming our societies and economies by introducing new ways of using and providing services, creating new production processes and producing massive quantities of data and information. The transition towards a digital economy is crucial for the competitiveness of our economy and for growth and jobs. By providing essential infrastructures and services to citizens and businesses in areas such as public administration, electricity, broadband, public and rail transport, public service media, social services, healthcare and education, public services providers are key actors in a successful digital transformation. Digital Single Market policies must therefore support European public services and be fit for purpose in a rapidly changing environment characterised by a globalised market and technological convergence on all platforms.

We call upon the European Commission to take an inclusive approach and to involve all public services’ employers from the design to the implementation in order to ensure a quick roll out of the Digital Single Market Strategy. We encourage the European Commission to place citizens at the heart of its strategy as part of a pluralist and culturally diverse society.  

Public services’ employers are committed to fully deploying the digital technologies to deliver accessible and innovative services for a competitive economy and cohesive society. Our members contribute towards the development of efficient responses to major societal challenges such as ageing, demographic changes as well as climate change, and promote social cohesion and informed citizenship. They are constantly innovating to accommodate changing expectations from citizens and enterprises and support the development of a competitive digital economy by making available nonpersonal data related to services falling under public service obligations, while ensuring nondiscriminatory and reliable use and re-use of such data. The success of digitalised public services relies on the trust of citizens, as well as their universality, excellence and accountability. It is notably built up by providing customers with a high level of transparency and control over the collection and use of their personal data.

We call upon the EU institutions to ensure a level playing field allowing all actors to fully take advantage of digitalisation in a fair regulatory environment. Also, it is crucial that the regulatory framework promotes innovation in public services by guaranteeing users’ privacy rights and encouraging standardisation and interoperability.  

The digital transformation has been producing fundamental changes to the EU labour market, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. It is critical to stay ahead and ensure its fairness. Social and employment legislation may need to be adapted to respond to changes in labour organisation models. A fair labour market requires that all workers, including workers in non-standard forms of employment, are covered by and have access to labour market institutions.

We call for an active dialogue with social partners. Considering the rapid and continued pace of change brought about by digitalisation, it is essential that the European Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with the social partners, monitor the impact of digitalisation on jobs and working conditions, including new forms of employment, and its impact on work-life balance.   

Public services’ employers have to reskill and upskill their workforce. Digital skills are now becoming ever more important in a variety of professional categories. They require training in order for the workforce to develop the skillset needed in a highly digitalised environment. Also, leadership and entrepreneurial spirit are essential for driving the digital transformation forward.

We call upon the European Commission and Member States to adopt a comprehensive approach on digital skills and training as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy and the upcoming New Skills Agenda for Europe, taking into account the needs of all sectors. In this regard, public and private investment in vocational training is essential.

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Please find below links to:

Joint statements on:

Joint declaration on:

The joint statements and joint declaration will be presented to Presidents Juncker and Tusk, and Dutch Prime Minister Rutte at the Tripartite Social Summit on Wednesday 16 March, 16h-19h.

The social partners request that the declaration is supported by the European Commission and Council, the EU institutions directly involved in the new start of social dialogue.

CEEP broadly welcomes the first preliminary outline of a Pillar of Social Rights launched by the European Commission. Such proposal could have the potential to level the playing field all around Europe and consolidate the EU social acquis. However, respecting the principle of subsidiarity will be key for its success and widespread acceptance.

“Many of the principles and objectives formulated in the proposal, such as the call to redefine the concept of ‘flexicurity’ or the focus put on skills and education, are the right ones,” said Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary. “We are committed to support the European Commission in its call for more rights for citizens – to housing, to healthcare, to education. But as of today, very little is proposed to support the providers of such services, which are already facing severe constraints.”

A strong criticism arises on the place of social partners and social dialogue in this process. “Social partners need to be directly involved in the setting-up of the Pillar of Social Rights, especially on Chapter II on Fair Working Conditions” continued Valeria Ronzitti. “Without claiming a “holy right” to dedicated consultations, social partners are the best placed to shape working conditions and industrial relations at company, local, national and European levels. A public consultation does not reflect this specific role and we call the European Commission to take it into account in the next steps.”

CEEP will answer the public consultation.

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At the Macroeconomic Dialogue at Political Level organized by the European Council, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti presented public services employers’ plan to relaunch the EU economy.

Three main priorities should be tackled:

Negotiated structural reforms

“For social partners, being fully involved in the EU economic governance and the European Semester to foster ownership of the reform process remains a priority.
But a lot still needs to be done at national level. If social partners are not an integral part of the definition of the reforms and of their implementation, the exercise could become meaningless. We really welcome the increased involvement of the European social partners in the European Semester, but a lot still needs to be done at national level.” 

A comprehensive approach to investment

“There is a persistent reluctance to see investments in social infrastructures – healthcare and education – as a real engine for growth. However, the “political climate” seems to be favourable for a change in the mind-set, with the Netherlands Presidency acknowledging modern and high quality education as indispensable for a strong economy, and the Commission establishing a Social Impact Fund and setting up payment-by-results schemes to scale up the provision of social services.
CEEP is also committed to taking part in the efforts to change the mind-set towards those sectors with a very high investment potential.

An encompassing competitiveness policy

“I will conclude by addressing a clear recommendation to the Netherlands’ Presidency knowing that the Council will start considering the establishment of National Competitiveness Boards during this semester: the definition of competitiveness needs to clearly include high quality public services. Missing this point would undermine our ability to reinforce Europe’s growth potential.”

jointpressspetucepsuceep

Joint press release by CEEP, Social Platform, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU)

Members of the European Parliament echo calls from civil society, public service providers and workers to fully exclude public services from trade agreements.

Today’s [3 February] adoption of a European Parliament resolution calling for the full exclusion of public services in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and future trade deals has been welcomed by Social Platform, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU). Public services are vital for social cohesion, sustainable growth and job creation.

The vote builds upon the Parliament’s adoption last July of a resolution calling on the European Commission to fully exclude current and future public services from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States, regardless of how they are provided or funded. The resolution on TiSA, authored by Member of the European Parliament Viviane Reding, goes further by requesting the European Commission to introduce a “gold standard” clause to exclude public services from the scope of trade agreements irrespective of how they are supplied.

The “gold standard” clause would considerably strengthen the protection of quality, accessible and affordable public services in EU trade agreements. The European Commission should now commit to changing its approach to public services not only in TiSA, but also in TTIP and future trade agreements.

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Note to Editors

Social Platform is the largest European civil society alliance fighting for social justice and participatory democracy in Europe.

The European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services (CEEP) gathers public and private providers of services of general interest from across Europe, representing more than 26% of EU GDP and employing 30% of the EU workforce.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) comprises 90 national trade union confederations in 39 countries, plus ten European trade union federations.

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) is the largest federation of the European Trade Union Confederation and comprises eight million public service workers from over 265 trade unions.

Reacting to the adoption of the draft European Parliament’s recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) by the International Trade (INTA) Committee of the European Parliament, CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti commented:

“In order to support the creation of sustainable growth and jobs in Europe, free trade agreement negotiations should not put the provision of high-quality and affordable services of general interest under pressure.

We believe that TiSA negotiations have a great potential to shape globalisation and set up fair international trade standards guaranteeing the respect of the EU acquis. In a constructive way, the INTA committee requested the EU to fully seize this opportunity.

Most importantly for us, the committee has reasserted its position on the exclusion of services of general (economic) interest. It sends a clear signal that the Commission’s current approach on the safeguard of services of general interest based on the public utilities clause is insufficient. As proposed in the report, a golden standard clause would significantly increase legal certainty and predictability, which are key factors to foster investments in physical and social infrastructures.

Ahead of the plenary vote, CEEP calls MEPs for strong support of Ms Reding’s report.”

Ahead of the consideration of the draft report on the conclusion of an Interinstitutional Agremeent on Better Law-Making tomorrow in the AFCO committee, CEEP re-stated its comments on the draft interinstitutional agreement reached on the 8th of December 2015.

CEEP welcomes the provisional agreement and calls for a speedy adoption in the European Parliament. In the CEEP opinion published in July, public services providers and employers welcomed the principles and tools underpinning the Better regulation approach proposed by the European Commission. A balanced implementation will create the right regulatory environment for the modernisation of public services across Europe.

In particular CEEP insisted that the Better regulation agenda needs to be a collective effort in order to be effective and legitimate. The draft Interinstitutional Agreement clarifies the approach for implementing Better Regulation and should therefore be adopted as soon as possible. It strengthens the equal footing of co-legislators and strikes the right balance between democratic and evidence-based decision-making. The negotiators also agreed to be ambitious on simplification of existing legislation through a collective effort. CEEP however regrets the lack of concrete commitments on transparency. We call the institutions to follow up on this issue.

In particular, CEEP would like to make following comments:

1. ON TRANSPARENCY

We welcome the new pledges made by the European institutions in terms of transparency, however further discussions on this matter are needed. CEEP called on more transparency around the composition of expert groups for implementing and delegated acts. Furthermore, it called the three institutions “to be ambitious in enhancing the transparency of trilateral negotiations”.

For delegated and implementing acts, the Commission commits to carry out public consultations and ensure equal access to information to the European Parliament and the Council. Furthermore by end of 2017 the three institutions commit to set up a joint functional register of delegated acts to enable better traceability.

Also, to facilitate traceability of various legislative steps, the institutions undertake to identify ways of further developing platforms and tools by 31 December 2016, with a view to establishing a dedicated joint database on the state of play of legislative files.

Such initiatives are most welcomed.

Most importantly, the EU institutions commit to “ensure the transparency of legislative procedures […] including an appropriate handling of trilateral negotiations”. CEEP calls the institutions to pursue discussions on what an “appropriate handling” means. The wording continues to be too weak seen the importance of trilogues in the ordinary legislative procedure.

2. ON IMPACT ASSESSMENT

As rightly stated in the provisional agreement, impact assessments should be a tool to help well-informed decisions and should not substitute political and democratic decision-making or lead to undue delay. In its opinion, CEEP expressed the necessity to strike the right balance between evidenced-base and democratic decision-making. Furthermore, CEEP called to better take into account regional and local impacts.

CEEP welcomes that the provisional agreement mentions that impact assessments have to “assess economic, environmental and social impacts in an integrated and balanced way”. Furthermore, whenever possible, impact assessments will look at the cost of non-Europe and the impact on competitiveness and administrative burdens, having particular regard for SMEs (“Think Small First”), digital aspects and territorial impact.

Such a balanced approach is the right way to support the modernisation of public services. The application of the “Think Small First” principle should ensure that EU legislation is fit for purpose for all types of small enterprises, including local public services enterprises.

Furthermore, CEEP welcomes that the co-legislators keep full discretionary power on when and how to carry out an impact assessment on substantial amendments.

3. ON PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS

CEEP has been calling for more effective public consultations procedures. In this regard, it stressed the importance of factors such as timing, intelligible drafting and transparency on how the results are taken into account. CEEP also called for the possibility to comment on draft impact assessments issued by the Regulatory Scrutiny Board.

In this regard, CEEP welcomes that the Commission commits to encourage direct participation of “SMEs and other end-users”. Also, in its explanatory memoranda accompanying any legislative proposal, the Commission has to give an account of both the scope and the results of any stakeholder consultation (next to ex-post evaluation of existing legislation and impact assessment). These elements are a step in the good direction for more effective public consultations procedures, although a stronger wording would have been welcomed.

Also, CEEP welcomes that the three institutions reiterated the full respect of the autonomy of social partner agreements.

4. ON SIMPLIFICATION

CEEP believes that simplification of existing legislation can greatly benefit the modernisation of SGEIs in Europe. However, it shall not undermine the balance between the three fundamental policy objectives of the EU and should guarantee predictable legislation. Therefore, CEEP welcomes that the three institutions “agree to cooperate in order to update and simplify legislation […] while ensuring that the objectives of the legislation are met.”

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