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Speaking note:Meeting of the European Social Partners with the College of Commissioners 25.2.09

Date

25 Feb 2009

Sections

Social Europe & Jobs
EU Priorities 2020
Climate & Environment

Dear President, Vice-Presidents, Commissioners,
It is an honour and a pleasure for me to address the College of Commissioners.
This is a “première” for the European Social Partners and I would like to join my colleagues in thanking you for this opportunity. We see it as one of the important steps towards a joint effort to overcome this unprecedented financial and economic crisis.
This is my “personal première” too, as it is my first official meeting as newly elected President of CEEP. And it is a real challenge to take over the leadership of the European public employers’ and SGIs providers’ organisation during these difficult times.
Public service providers must indeed perform a double task today: to face the economic crisis while preserving the accessibility, the high quality, the affordability and the continuity of services of general interest.
 
The services provided by our enterprises meet the basic needs of all citizens. They range from energy, to water, to public transport, to urban planning, to health care and social services. Their profits flow back to the citizens as they are converted into investments to shape the regional infrastructure and the territorial cohesion.
Best services for citizen’s money must remain our guiding principle and value, regardless the economic background.
For investments to be effective and take place, confidence and trust in a functioning economy must be re-established. To reach this goal, it is essential that all Member States live up to the commitments taken with their national Economic Recovery Programmes under the strong coordination and according to the guidance offered by the European Economic Recovery Plan. The time to show the existence of European solidarity and Governance is now.
In this context, short term measures are of course important and necessary, but risk to become counterproductive if not accompanied by medium and long term planning for structural reforms.
Recovery measures should rely more on investment in infrastructures, whether physical (transport, energy, network industries) or social (education, healthcare, social services). For this type of action the concept of a European infrastructure fund must be re-launched. It would combine best immediate impacts on income and employment in the longer term.
CEEP would like to see a smarter and forward looking allocation of resources offered by existing European instruments.
We welcome the temporary increased flexibility introduced in the use of some of them. This will be crucial to alleviate the impact of the crisis on service provision and on employment.
To make a concrete example: The idea to provisionally broaden the scope of eligibility for assistance under the European Globalisation adjustment Fund will give more room for manoeuvre to local actors. This is a progress in the direction of SGI providers that are by definition anchored to the territory and cannot “relocate”. However these services will need stronger support to face the huge restructuring challenges of the future beyond the crisis.
”Demographic change”, for instance, will increase the demand for jobs in social services and healthcare. The same goes for the “green jobs” that will be created because of climate change policies.
But the immediate future will bring restructuring and change instead of job creation. This should be better taken into account when planning for “extraordinary rescue measures” to face the crisis, from which SGI providers should also benefit.
This is not a call for interventionism or re-nationalisation.
This is a call for the concrete acknowledgement that markets are made up of two kinds of “capital”: One is Money, the other is Trust of citizens and consumers. To reach the latter, conditions such as functioning administrations, reliable and sustainable services of general interest, are one of the keys to make market players able to overcome the crisis.
Carl Cederschiöld
President of CEEP

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