2019 is a crucial year for Europe, with a complete institutional reshuffle. Members of the European Parliament have been elected in May 2019, whilst Ursula von der Leyen and her college of Commissioners is expected to take over on 1st December. Similarly, Charles Michel will become President of the European Council on that very same day.
With this new institutional setting, new political priorities have been brought up, including an ambitious “European Green Deal”, developing “an economy that works for people”, making “Europe fit for the digital age” and “protecting our European way of life”. In this context, public services and services of general interest (SGIs) have the legitimacy to hold a central place in this process. Providers of those essential services have an important role to play to connect – or rather reconnect – citizens, local, regional and national actors with EU decision-makers, and strengthen our European democratic model.
Public Services are the backbone of the EU
Together with our members, employers and enterprises providing SGIs from across Europe, we have developed an approach relying on two key priorities for the future of the European society:
- The implementation of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, paving the way towards sustainable growth and development in Europe.
- The development of an inclusive digital transition across Europe, ensuring a rollout of digital solutions supporting social and economic growth.
Including activities such as energy, healthcare, education, housing, waste management, public transport or water, public services and SGI providers are the backbone of the EU economy, active in fields such as: central & local administrations, healthcare, education, housing, waste management, energy, transport or water provision. They are therefore central to ensure a successful transition of the European society, and to bring together the 3 pillars of “sustainability”: the social, the economic and the environmental.
Considering this central position, it is necessary to engage employers and providers of public services and SGIs at all levels, from the very local to the European level. Including them in the decision-making process and ensuring that the right conditions are met for their flourishing development, is a must. We have identified 5 levers for blossoming public services and SGIs across Europe:
- Set up a fair and predictable level-playing field for SGIs and bring to an end the discrimination they are facing in matters such as the EU SME definition, the need for equal treatment for all SMEs, regardless of their ownership structures.
- Promote active social dialogue at EU and national level, which can help to bring the European project forward as it relies on strong and representative national social partners.
- Create an attractive investment environment, as the investment gap remains very important in the EU. Despite the European Fund for Strategic Investment set up in 2015, more can and should be done to better channel funds into the real economy.
- Strengthen democracy through cohesion and subsidiarity, with the purpose of supporting the development of the least-developed EU areas on the one hand, and on the other, focusing on the overarching issues, whilst leaving national, regional and local authorities free to organise the specifics, such as the provision of public services and SGIs.
- Support the integration of migrants and refugees – As providers of essential services and as employers, our members are committed to this cause. In that context, CEEP has been a partner, since 2016, of the Labour INT project to promote the swift integration of third-country nationals into the labour market, and of the ‘European Partnership for Integration’, with the European Commission and the EU Social and Economic partners.
Join us at the Public Services Summit 2019!
To address all those issues, CEEP will hold the fourth edition of the Public Services Summit (PSS) on 12 December 2019 (9.00-17.00), at the European Committee of Regions in Brussels. Following up on the successes of the first three editions, the PSS 2019 will bring together high-level EU institutional leaders, CEEP members and a broad range of external stakeholders.
The whole-day event will be platform for exchanging on the key contributions of public services and services of general interest to the European Social Model. As public services and SGI providers will play a crucial role in the ambitious project for a striving Europe, the PSS2019 will address the current challenges and highlight our vision of the future.
Balancing panel sessions and exchanges with participants, the PSS2019 will be an interactive and stimulant platform to discuss the new political priorities of the EU. We hope that most of you will join us and make the voice of public services’ employers and providers heard!
Gathering around 500.000 employers and providers of SGIs since 1961, CEEP is one of the three cross-industry general EU social partners. The associations represent the interests of its members, both as employers and as enterprises, raising awareness on their contributions to the fundamental goals of the EU, supporting business, social and territorial cohesion, economic and social solidarity and a better quality of life for all citizens.