The voice of European public services and SGI providers, CEEP, endorses the European Council’s global vision outlined in its Strategic Agenda 2019-2024. EU leaders recognised several key challenges, which public services providers must cope with, just like other actors: the digital transformation, the necessity of a fairer taxation system or of improving societal inclusiveness. In particular, the need to put trade, industrial and competition policy in harmony to foster European competitiveness and ensure a level-playing field with other parts of the world is a positive signal. EU heads of state and government were also correct in calling to deepen and strengthen “the Single Market in all its dimensions”, stressing the importance of cross-sectoral aspects and above all of supporting a longer-term and “all-encompassing” approach. By representing European public services’ providers in the variety of activity field, size, legal regime or shape, CEEP has a significant card to play in this respect.
The Finnish government’s European Council Presidency programme (very recently published on June 26th) appears to be following the same line by reinforcing and materialising this push. CEEP for instance supports the Finnish presidency in calling to pursue external trade negotiations whilst “reinforcing the binding nature of the Sustainable Development Goals contained in EU trade agreements” or its reference to the Cohesion Policy’s social dimension. This programme also draws a forward-looking vision for European societies and economies to prepare for the future, e.g. by supporting the development of the European human-driven data economy.
Occasions for CEEP to make sur EU leaders keep their word, and that these do not remain idle words, will come swiftly, starting with the ongoing negotiation of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF 2019-2024). On this item, the Finnish presidency’s aim to finalise negotiations at Council level by autumn 2019 is very welcome as time is pressing and that the European Parliament officially set its own negotiating objectives through a so-called Interim report. On the other hand, the Presidency’s suggestion that “Cohesion Policy should […] focus on promoting growth and competitiveness” represents the risk of distorting it from its very raison d’être: fostering social and geographical cohesion of the EU.
As the next generation of EU top decision- and law-makers are only taking their seats now or shall do so in the coming weeks, CEEP will ensure that public services and SGI providers play their part and that their legitimate interests are well taken into account in the major processes at hand.