sexta-feira, junho 01, 2007

Seminar on services of general interest

AKA Austrian Chamber of Labour
8th of January 2008

Gutten Tag, Bom dia
First, I would like to thank you for this invitation.

1. Concerning SIG and SSGI, let me refer to some facts and to make some comments.

About the Facts, I would like to underline the debate and vote of my report in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and in the Plenary at the European Parliament, with a very strong majority, on March 7th 2007. This report tried to clarify the European situation of SSGI and to make quite a lot of propositions. The Parliament reaffirmed "its commitment to modern and high-quality SSGI based on the values of equality, solidarity, rule of law and respect for human dignity and the principles of accessibility, universal service, efficiency, economic management of resources, continuity, proximity to service users and transparency"…

During the following months a study about the European situation of SSGI has been carried on. The European Commission organised a Conference on June 4th, to present the main points of this investigation. On the next day, we had the Debate on SSGI organised by the French Collective, on June 5th in Brussels.

2. The summer holidays were good to organize the Lisbon Forum on SSGI, which took place on September 17th.

In fact, my Report recommended "the convocation of a Forum, under the auspices of the European Parliament which would bring together European social organisations and representatives of the Council and the Commission to guide the way this process is handled…" In this Forum, there were quite a lot of interesting speeches made namely by Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, Minister Vieira da Silva, Mr. Jérôme Vignon, some M.E.P.'s and quite a lot of members of social organisations and experts. The debate in the Plenary and in several workshops has been very interesting. In October, we sent a paper with the major conclusions and the summary of the discussions to the Presidency, the European Commission, to several experts and most social organizations. In this document, one of the key messages was that " There is still a grey zone, as far as it is not clear whether some SSGI may be considered or not as an economic activity and therefore, whether they can benefit or not from some derogatory rules (particularly of Article 86 2 ECT)."

On the 19th of September, I sent a message for the Green Conference called "Good bye Social Services". Jean Lambert read my speech, where I have remembered to write "I say hello, when you say goodbye", like in the well known song.

3. Also on the 19th of September, in the evening, I made a speech in the Brusseler KREISS, the German circle in Brussels integrated by representatives of several German social organisations, to present my views on the SSGI.

Afterwards, I participated in Zaragoza, Spain, in the Aragon "Forum por la verdadera inclusion", on the 21st of September. In that town, I visited several social organizations and we discussed the SSGI, in the Plenary with many participants and representatives from the Portuguese Presidency, the Governments of France, Spain and Aragon.

In Italy, in Verona at the Summer School on the 22nd of September, I also spoke about the SIG and the SSGIs.

And it is important to mention now that the Lisbon Treaty opened a new opportunity on SSGI and SGI by the new Protocol on SGI.

4. I want to mention also that on 5th of November, the group of 15 French organisations, called SSGI-FR, sent a letter to Nicholas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, about this subject. In this letter they wrote (I quote in French): "Le Collectif compte sur votre soutien lors de la Présidence française de l'Union européenne. En effet, ce sujet nécessite des lignes directrices stratégiques précises et l'émergence d'un réel cadre réglementaire européen se fondant sur l'article 14 et le protocole annexé sur les SIEG de nouveau Traite." Now, this Collective is gaining an international ambition and participation.

On November 15th, in Luxembourg, we discussed the social services and the SGI, in the High Level Conference, organised by the Economic and Social Council of Luxembourg, with the support of the National Government of Luxembourg. I moderated the debate, with a friend from the Social Platform and we tried to clarify some points and to develop other matters concerning SGI and SSGI.

Still on November 2007, the European Commission produced a paper linked with the communication about the internal market. This paper includes some points on SSGI.

And the debate went on in Lisbon on the 30th of November and in Brussels on the 4th of December at the CEEP ; Then we also came back to the questions of SGI and SSGI.

Dear friends.

5. It is time to come to the conclusions.

Which are now the main important questions, on the table?

I would like to say that, even if we need a legal clarification, I think that it is also important to go deeper with the Quality of the Services provided. From my point of view, we also need an external evaluation, done by users and by the Public authorities. And for that, we need to build social and economic indicators at the national and the European levels. We also need better training of the social and health workers on SSGI.

And we cannot forget that it is also necessary to clarify, legally, the matters concerning the links between local/ regional powers and the SSGI.

If we do that, we will be able to reinforce the social services, to increase the quality of social services. And the European Parliament "Is convinced that SSGI's are an appropriate means of strengthening the social dimensions of the Lisbon Strategy, attaining the objectives of the social agenda and addressing challenges such as globalisation, industrial change, technological progress, demographic change, migration and changing social and employment patterns, thus contributing to the development of social Europe".

We count on you, on all workers and most of the European citizens for that task.

Thank you for your attention.
Danke schön!