On behalf of CEEP, I would first like to convey our sympathies to the families of those who have already lost loved ones to COVID-19, and our gratitude to those showing exceptional courage and resilience, both to treat the sick, and to maintain the vital goods and services upon which we all depend. Services of general interest are indeed at the forefront of this challenge, and our members are the first respondents to mitigate the public health impacts of the crisis, and to provide essential services to citizens in lockdown across Europe.
As a cross sectoral social partner and as representative at EU level of those SGI providers, CEEP is closely following the developments of the dramatic emergency of the COVID-19 epidemic across Europe and is at the forefront, with its constituents in Member States, of the design and implementation of the extraordinary measures needed to help citizens, enterprises and workers in facing this emergency.
We are also influencing the debate on the measures necessary to get back to a normal functioning of our societies and economies and to a sustainable growth. In that respect, we commend the joint statement of the Members of the European Council from 26 March, calling for a “coordinated exit strategy”, a “comprehensive recovery plan” and “unprecedented investment”. We also believe, as the heads of state and government declared yesterday, that “we must draw lessons from the present crisis and start reflecting on the resilience of societies when confronted with such events”, and that it is “time to put into place a more ambitious and wide-ranging crisis management system within the EU”.
In a nutshell, we are facing the historical opportunity to show unity and solidarity and to speed up the construction of the European project: we are honoured to be able to take part into that process and we will do our utmost best to bring the proactive contribution of SGI providers and employers to it. We decided not to do this alone: this unprecedented crisis needs new alliances and that is why we launched the new platform “Services of General Interest facing COVID-19”, which intends to highlight examples, practices and messages of the partner associations from across sectors and Europe. The challenges faced by members of like-minded organisations are indeed similar, and the role of SGI providers in defeating COVID-19 and mitigating the societal fallouts will be of prime importance.
We will also do it with the other EU cross-sectoral social partners – ETUC, BusinessEurope, SMEunited. CEEP already issued a joint statement on the COVID-19 emergency both for the meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 16 March, and in view of the Council meeting of 26 March.
As always in times of crisis, CEEP and its members, together with allies at EU level, remains on the front line for the benefit of citizens, and we intend to highlight this contribution at the highest level.