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On behalf of European employers and providers of public services, Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, and Joseph Farrugia, CEO of the Malta Employers’ Associations (MEA), addressed the Tripartite Social Summit, co-chaired by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Slovak Prime Minister, Robert Fico. Emphasising the central role of public services in the European society, Ms Ronzitti suggested 3 avenues to put the EU back on track, support economic growth, facilitate social improvements and reduce inequalities.

1. “Remove the sense of alienation, re-define the concept of protection and security EU citizens are asking for, stop with do-goodism and politically correct speeches, as the first steps to counteract those who see Europe as a “necessary evil” and “not a common good”.” In this respect, Mr Farrugia presented the Maltese example, where his organisation broadcast a TV programme communicating on Europe and the contribution of social dialogue to the EU project.

2. “Continue necessary structural reforms and negotiate them as much as possible to ensure that they are a unifying factor. This implies for Governments to sit together with employers and trade unions to design and implement them. This point was one of the key elements of the recent statement “A New Start for Social Dialogue” (signed by the European Commission, the European Council, employers’ organisations and trade unions).”

3. “Invest, invest, invest. CEEP will support all initiatives aiming at ensuring additional investments for long-term growth prospects. This is crucial for our members who reported in our Autumn Pulse of Pulse Services that budget cuts as well as administrative and regulatory burden remain their biggest obstacle invest.
We welcome the empowerment of the EFSI and its new arm to support the EU external policy, as expressed in the Social Partners’ statement on the table today.
But EFSI alone will not be enough. The first phase proved unsuccessful to address the lack of investments in social infrastructures. EFSI is still meant to attract mainly – if not exclusively – private investors whose appetite to invest in social infrastructures – not only schools and hospitals, but rather skills and health – is limited.
To significantly increase those investments Member States need to finally use to full extent the flexibility built-in the Stability and Growth Pact. Moreover an honest and non-dogmatic reflection need to be launched by at EU level on whether the Stability and Growth Pact is still fit for purpose.”

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Europe is faced with unprecedented economic, social and political challenges. These challenges – insufficient competitiveness, lack of growth and employment, migration, security issues, and the need to redefine EU-UK relations – require European solutions.
European social partners strongly believe in the European Union. Populism, nationalism, xenophobia, anti-European sentiments, isolationism or protectionism can only create a downward spiral that will damage everyone. European and national commitment can and must go hand-in hand.

European employers and European Trade Unions regret but respect the decision of the United-Kingdom to leave the European Union. They are determined to contribute to finding solutions to mitigate the negative effects of this decision for companies and workers across Europe. Companies and workers must not pay the price for Brexit.

Our aim is to preserve as close economic relations between the European Union and the United-Kingdom as possible, while preserving the integrity of the Single Market, and fully respecting the four freedoms linked to it, i.e. free movement of goods, services, capital and persons.

European social partners also insist on the need to improve Europe’s attractiveness as a place to invest and create jobs.

After a decade of under-investment, increasing efficient and productive private and public investment is essential for Europe’s present and future growth and employment, particularly on fields like physical and social infrastructures, circular economy, digitalisation, innovation and research, education and training for better skills, etc. We therefore support the extension of the so-called Juncker Plan for Investment (European Fund for Strategic Investment – EFSI), drawing the necessary lessons from the first year of application on the need to improve additionality, facilitate cross-border projects and support countries experiencing difficulties in mobilising this instrument.

In parallel, EU and national efforts to remove obstacles to investment and job creation in Europe must be stepped up.

To reverse the relative decline of European industry including SMEs and given the importance of manufacturing and related services for growth and job creation in all sectors of the economy, we call on the European Commission to include an ambitious industrial policy strategy in the 2017 work programme.

Having efficient European institutions is essential to devise balanced and efficient European policies benefiting all Member States enterprises and workers. Europe needs transparent, democratically accountable and well-performing institutions: the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament have to be united and determined in working together to improve the capacity of the European Union to address enterprises’ and workers’ needs and expectations.

At the same time, a well-functioning social dialogue at EU, national, sectoral and company level is important to devise efficient policies that will increase European prosperity and ensure social fairness.

The statement on “a new start for social dialogue’ co-signed in June by the Commission, the Council and the social partners is our common roadmap to design and implement policies for growth and job creation. We count on the European Commission and on the Council to live up to their commitment to implement it and support us through capacity building projects to further strengthen national social partnership for efficient social dialogue and industrial relations, where necessary.

CEEP addressed today the second Macro Economic Dialogue at Political Level organized under the Netherlands Presidency. “Public services’ employers particularly acknowledge the importance that President Dijsselbloem attaches to the Macro Economic Dialogue and we encourage future presidencies to give equal importance to the exchange of views with social partners. This should lay the basis for strengthening the Macro Economic Dialogue and for fully linking it to the semester process” said CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti.

Regarding structural reforms, the main point at the agenda, Valeria Ronzitti made the case for balanced structural reforms, able to reinforce upward convergence. “However, structural reforms are not automatically successful; a thorough assessment needs to be made of what they encompass”, explained Ms Ronzitti. “Three distinct elements are necessary for structural reforms to be successful:

  • to follow a reasonable pace in order not to impose excessive shocks on our economies;
  • to properly involve social partners when structural reforms are not directly negotiated by them at national level;
  • to shape structural reforms with a truly long-term vision, without being at the expense of investments in public services infrastructures.”

As the recipe for successful structural reforms contains investments among its key ingredients, CEEP encourages future Macro Economic Dialogue meetings to specifically focus on this issue, in the context of the proposed strengthening and prolongation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). This would also favour investments in social infrastructures, which keep lagging behind since the launch of the EFSI.

CEEP welcomes the priorities identified by the Commission in the ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’. “Employers of public services keep struggling to match skill needs and workers. All the measures taken to effectively reduce skill mismatches are key to shape a society economically performant and inclusive”, explained CEEP General Secretary Valeria Ronzitti. Identifying and addressing skill needs and increasing the comparability of qualifications across Europe are priorities to encourage job creation and facilitate mobility.

Amongst the proposed initiatives, CEEP particularly supports the launch of a ‘Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition’, which is an important step to accompany the digital transformation. “For public services providers, adapting to the digital era and finding the workforce with the right skills remains a major challenge which requires solutions”, emphasized Valeria Ronzitti.
Some elements of solution on the digital transformation of the EU labour market were put forward in CEEP Opinion ‘Harnessing the Digital Transformation of Public Services’.

Also, the facilitation of the integration of migrants and refugees in European labour market was called for by the EU economic and social partners in a joint statement in March 2016. The creation of a ‘Skills Profile Tool’ goes in the right direction and could directly contribute to addressing the refugee crisis by better recognising their skills and qualifications. A renewed European Qualifications’ Framework is also necessary to encourage mobility across Europe, which could benefit both Europeans and third country nationals.

CEEP will closely follow the rolling out of the Commission Action Plan, and looks forward to building up an effective partnership with the Commission on this issue.

 “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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