Services of General Interest

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.
Since 1992, the European Single Market has transformed the every-day life and business of over 500 millions Europeans in 27 Member States. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the European Single Market, CEEP would like to clearly remind the role of Services of General Interest in this common project, as the backbone of its well functioning.During these 20 years, the provision of Services of General Interest (SGI) has considerably evolved to adapt to new arising challenges, impacted by the construction and deepening of the Single Market, to better answer to the new needs of the European society and economy. They have not only accompanied those evolutions but above all enabled them, with the positive consequences we know on European citizens and businesses.Therefore, it is also essential to fight against a still existing stereotype looking at public services’ providers as opposed to the development of the internal market.

“In these social and economic difficult times, the European Union needs more than ever an effective and well functioning European Single Market, to foster growth and employment. And this European Single Market can only function properly if it has the adequate infrastructure, provided by SGIs providers, being either public or private, authorities or operators” expressed Valeria RONZITTI, CEEP General Secretary.

The future of our growth will be determined by our capacity of taking stock of past lessons to better legislate, both regarding the content of the future proposals impacting the Single Market and the way they are decided. This requires strong partners who are fully integrated in the definition of its objectives and their implementation.

Access to the Press Release here


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