In light of the European Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth, taking place in Gothenburg (Sweden) on 17 November, the members of the Public Services Employers’ Forum (PSEF), representing Public Services and Services of General (Economic) Interest (SG(E)I) employers and providers, presented their Joint Statement on Social Europe.
The members of the Public Services Employers’ Forum (PSEF), representing Public Services and Services of General (Economic) Interest (SG(E)I) employers and providers, welcome the actions of the EU institutions to develop the social dimension of Europe and bring more balance between economic and social.
Public services and SG(E)I are a cornerstone of the EU Social Model and have a central role to play in ensuring the citizens’ quality of life, supporting the development of European businesses and contributing to the growth and competitiveness of the EU.
Access to public services and SG(E)I is key to reduce inequality, and are better suited to do so than the combined effect of taxes and social benefits. We plead for public services and services of general (economic) interest to be placed at the heart of the project for a Social Europe, and to be considered a key issue in every Member State.
We call upon the EU institutions and Member States to support the development of a strong framework for modernised and high-performing public services and SG(E)I, able to reconnect citizens and enterprises with the European project.
The PSEF believes that the EU initiatives on the social dimension should support the development of local and regional policies in the fields of skills, education, healthcare and life-long learning. Access to funding should be facilitated and accompanied by an adequate legislative framework at the appropriate level of decision.
It is fundamental to promote gender equality and sustainable employability (i.e. work-life balance), and to provide active support for employment (particularly youth) to facilitate professional transitions, address technological change and the digital transformation, demographic trends and the integration of migrants into the labour market.
It requires investment in education and training, as new skills and competences are needed to properly face the challenges posed in all sectors by the globalised economic environment. It is our joint responsibility to ensure that workers are provided with the capacity to continue learning and developing skills, in order to adapt effectively to changes.
Meaningful participation of employers and providers of public services and SG(E)I is crucial in achieving results in the development of a Social Europe.
It is indeed particularly central to acknowledge the importance of social partners and social dialogue. This role should be explicitly recognised and respected when shaping Social Europe, and it should be so at all levels of decision-making (EU, national, regional, local).
It remains critical to recall that a “one size fits all approach” cannot work in the realm of EU social policy. It is key to take into account the specificities of each system: social partners at national, regional and local level are the best placed to anticipate the implications of new social policy initiatives.
National ownership and political commitment are needed from Member States. Employers of SG(E)I and public services are essential for social cohesion and employment in Europe.
We believe that public services and SG(E)I should be considered as a transversal priority for the European Union. We also call upon the Council to ensure that there is a proper balance between our stabilisation and sustainability needs, including for public investment.