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