On Wednesday 14 October, a CEEP delegation, including Rainer Plassmann, CEEP President, and Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP General Secretary, addressed the Tripartite Social Summit (TSS) videoconference. In presence of, amongst others, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, CEEP called on this occasion for the clear recognition of the role played by services of general interest (SGI) during the COVID-19 crisis and on the path to recovery.
Together with a meeting with Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on the Foresight Report, this high-level videoconference was a first opportunity to call upon EU leaders to adopt a clearly SGI-centred recovery, with both a focus on the genuine integration of the SGIs in the National Recovery Plans (NRPs) and a reflection on new ways to assess the concept of “economic growth”, going beyond the currently accepted Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Addressing the priorities to be highlighted in the NRPs, CEEP has taken the opportunity of the TSS to support the business case for the role of SGIs in the recovery. Building up on the concrete examples from its members, President Plassmann called upon EU leaders for a “clear recognition of SGIs by all Member States as the key ingredient to making society resilient to future crises.” The priority now will be to follow up on those first steps, raise the interest and further highlight the relevance of investing in public services and services to ensure a green, fair, and digital Europe.
Also, CEEP will have the possibility to support the EU institutions in setting up new criteria to define “sustainable and inclusive growth”. The 2020 Foresight Report recognises that “the crisis has reignited the debate on what kind of economic growth is desirable, (…) and on the need for new metrics to measure progress beyond GDP growth. The EU is well-placed to (…) promote inclusive growth and equality, with the UN SDGs at the centre of economic policy”. This recognition reflects a longstanding demand from CEEP: for SGIs, growth and productivity cannot be assessed in the same way as for private businesses
Providers of services of general interest intend to be an integral part of the conversation: going beyond their sole economic ‘raison d’être’, the activities of our members contribute to many other spheres – developing skills, ensuring and protecting the health of citizens, providing essential services to businesses,… Highlighting the specificities of SGIs, this fundamental work can help to better integrate economic actors whose primary aim is not solely to make profit.
We intend to contribute to those conversations, which are at the heart of the definition of the Europe we want to see materialise in the future, which puts on equal footing the economy, the ecology and the well-being of citizens.
I wish you a good read.