On Wednesday 16 September 2020, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, presented her first State of the European Union (SOTEU) address to the European Parliament plenary. On this occasion, Mrs von der Leyen presented her vision and the ambitions of the European Commission for the EU moving forward, in the context of the COVID-19 and the social and economic recovery.
In her 90-minute long address, Mrs von der Leyen attempted to put forward prospects for an EU which emerges stronger from the COVID-19 crisis and leads the way also at global level. The recovery instrument Next Generation EU will be at the heart of the European Commission’s agenda, providing a unique opportunity to design changes.
This address provides key inputs and insights on upcoming key issues, such as initiatives to protect lives and livelihoods in Europe, the health of citizens and the stability of the economy, on implementing the EU Green Deal, leading the digital transformation, making the most of the single market and taking a new approach to migration.
Whilst focusing on the big picture, President von der Leyen touched upon several important issues for providers and employers of public services and services of general interest. Opening her speech by thanking healthcare providers and frontline workers and reinforcing the need for the post-COVID-19 to rely on a strong social market economy, CEEP supports the main lines presented by President von der Leyen to the European Parliament.
With a strong focus on the importance of the green and digital transitions for creating new growth and employment models, we now call for moving beyond the speeches and work on the details and the implementation of the Next Generation EU and its Recovery and Resilience Facility. The additional guidance published alongside the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy will be key for our members, who are ready and willing to support EU, national, regional and local institutions to ensure that investments are made in the right infrastructures, either physical or social.
Pushing forward the development of the EU economic architecture should remain high on the agenda. Completing the Capitals Market Union and the Banking Union is more than necessary: progress on those two major tools needs to be completed and go hand in hand with an in-depth review and modernisation of the Stability and Growth Pact.
Finally, migration took a central stage, especially in the light of the events seen earlier in September in the refugee camp in Moria. Already translated into concrete proposals of the European Commission, CEEP supports the underlying rationale behind the proposals; as employers and SGI providers’ organisation, our members play a key role in the integration of migrants and refugees into labour market. The renewal of the Partnership for Integration is further proof of that commitment. However, social partners and service providers cannot make it alone. The successful integration requires a genuine EU migration policy, calling on all 27 Member States to also step up their efforts.
This central address, and the issues highlighted, will remain at the core of our activities for the coming months. Together with our members in the relevant boards and task forces, we intend to be the voice of SGIs and of public services, pushing forward the reflection on the future of SGIs in the post-COVID-19 world.