Political agreement on a services directive
29.05.2006
Brussels (European Parliament)

After the Parliament’s first reading in February this year, it was now the Council’s turn to reach agreement on the services directive. On Monday 29 May (precisely one year after the France’s “non”) the European ministers met in Brussels to discuss the newly proposed draft for a services directive. In broad lines, the EU ministers followed the Commission’s new proposal. By unanimity, the Council reached a political agreement on this draft. At one of its forthcoming meetings, it will formally adopt a common position, which will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading. The text upon which the ministers have agreed was a balanced compromise put forward by the Austrian presidency.
Eurofedop will closely follow the developments surrounding the Council’s actions with regard to the services directive. It is important that the Council stays close to the amended version, and will not push for services that need their own regulatory framework (i.e. services of general interest) to be re-inserted into the directive.

Public Services Not Private Profit
Rally & Lobby of Parliament, April 2006

Public services and public service workers are facing unprecedented pressure from Government plans for privatisation and job cuts. Across virtually every area of public service and with virtually no consultation, proposals are being brought forward to hand over services to the private sector at seemingly no matter what the cost to either the taxpayer or service users.
In health, education, local government, prisons and probation and in every department of central government the Government is forcing services into the private sector. The Government’s Education & Inspections Bill is just the most recent example of the threat to the very concept of public services. Even where the private sector has failed and services taken back into the public sector, as in the railways, the Government is re-privatising them!

Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake. The pay, pensions and conditions of employment of public services workers are under threat. Services which our community relies upon are at risk.
The present attack on public services is on such a scale that we are in danger of witnessing the undermining of the very concept of public service provision in this country.
Brian Caton
POA (UK)

 

------

Read the flyer (pdf).

Eurofedop at launching first book Health First Europe “2050 a Health Odyssey”
Brussels, 02.02.2006

Eurofedop was represented at the launching of the first book of Health First Europe (H.F.E.), “2050 a Health Odyssey”, that took place in the European Parliament in Brussels on 2 February 2006. Our position of the Trade Council Health Services was included in the book.
Especially the presence of Mr David Byrne, former Commissioner charged with health care in Europe, was noticed. Just as Eurofedop, he contributed in an important way to the realisation of the book, thanks to the introduction of an article.


The book is a collection of ideas, preoccupations and reflections on the future of European health care. It was achieved thanks to contributions of a variety of authors ranging from representatives of patients groups, academicians and industrialists to politicians and organisations of health care workers such as Eurofedop.


The intention of the book is to promote dialogue and encourage the political debate on European health care. Especially worth mentioning is that all authors indicate that it is of essential importance to hold still for a while and reflect on the consequences of the fact that an adequate global policy plan and framework are missing and still waiting to be produced.

It's back to the future on the Services Directive - MEPs react to new proposal
04.04.2006

MEPs had a first opportunity to react to the Commission's revised proposals on the services directive, when Commissioners Charlie McCreevy and Vladimir Spidla outlined their new draft to the House. There was widespread agreement that the Commission had closely followed the position adopted by Parliament at its first reading vote in February – the next stage of the process is for the Member States to come to a common position in the Council. Read more (pdf)

The choice between a social Europe and no Europe at all
Resolution of the EUCDW for the EPP Congress in Rome (March 30-31, 2006)

Many people are currently following the process of European unification with fear
rather than expectation. They feel that the “social Europe” is in a state of crisis and
that the emphasis on “liberalisation“ and pan-European “competition“ is benefiting profits rather than the ideas of peace and international understanding. The opportunities provided by the peaceful coexistence of so many different nations and cultures are too often overshadowed by purely economic considerations.
Many of the worries are focused on the permanent calls for ever more drastic cuts in corporate spending – which do not gain in plausibility through constant repetition.
People feel they are being abandoned in their need of defending themselves against the risks of illness and old age. Europe is being identified with all the negative effects of “globalisation“.
On behalf of these people, one has to raise some serious questions about the social security systems: Is the level of pensions really high enough? Do our healthcare and
nursing care systems reach the levels of quality appropriate for a wealthy society and adequate for the needs of the people who rely on them for their physical well-being?
Even if we take into account the need for increased spending, our growing economies will create a cornucopia of private and social wealth. Our societies have become very wealthy indeed, and we can continue to grow as societies which can well afford sufficient welfare provisions.
While considering to restrict the first (contribution-funded) pillar of our social security systems to basic levels of provision, the EPP holds the opinion that this basic level must still allow people to lead their lives in self-respect and dignity.
The discussion about the distribution of costs will need to measure public and private
systems by the same criteria, foregoing any ideological prejudice: the focus must be
on cost control and the stimulation of the employment market. Cost analyses must
not be limited to the costs shouldered by the enterprises, but take in the financial
contributions of ordinary citizens. A re-distribution of costs from one level to the other
does not constitute a substantial improvement of the system.

Adapting the structures of European social dialogue – work organisation and environment (evaluation seminar)
Tallinn (Estonia), 03-04.03.2006

The two-year project is designed for workers’ organisations in the Central and Eastern European countries of the European Union and the candidate countries. It aims to identify the different status of social dialogue in the Central and Eastern countries of the EU and the candidate countries, show possibilities for strengthening social dialogue and define the need for adaptation (taking the general legal conditions into consideration as well) in the European process of integration.

The aim of the evaluation seminar is to evaluate the results of the ten working groups that have met during the year in the Central and Eastern European countries.
On 04.03.2006, the title of speech of the Secretary General, Bert Van Caelenberg, will be “Implementation of basic ethical values in social partnership form the example of the public service – nation-, Europe- and worldwide”.
Organisation: Eurofedop in cooperation with ETÖK (Estonian Centre for Work-Related Questions)

Information Day 2006 - Public Health
Luxembourg, 22.02.2006

The Commission is in the process of adopting the 2006 Work Plan for the implementation of the Public Health Programme (2003-2008). The Public Health Programme is a key instrument for mromoting EU action and financing in this field.
A call for Proposals was published immediately after the adoption of the annual work plan. This 2006 Call for Prposals will be het most important means of implementing the 2006 Work Plan and the main financing instrument for the programme activities.

Bert Van Caelenberg was present for Eurofedop at the Information Day.
He participated in the Health Information and Knowledge workshop and noted there that the European Commission shows great interest in the item of ‘the migration of health professionals’.
At the Trade Council Health Services on 19 June next, the Commission will be present to give more information on its programme.
All documents are available on the Internet.
See http://europe.Eu.int/comm/health/

Workshop on Postal Services Studies
Brussels (Centre Borschette), 21.02.2006

Our representatives Lieve Vanoverbeke (ACV Transcom-Belgium) and Manfred Wiedner (GPF-Austria) were present at a workshop at which presentations were given on the studies concerning the ‘impact on universal service of the full accomplishment of the postal internal market in 2009’ (PricewaterhouseCooper) and ‘main developments in the postal sector’ (Wik-Consult).
These studies will be further discussed at the Trade Council Post and Telecom in Dubrovnik on 02/06/2006.

The impact of these studies will be of the greatest importance to the Postal sector.
We will also invite the European Commission to come and give more explanation on these activities.
After we will have determined our position on the studies’ results, we will also inform the European Parliament of this position.

Austria’s Federal Minister of Justice, Magister Karin Gastinger, presented the action programme of the Austrian Presidency
Brussels, 20.02.2006

The Academy of European Law (ERA), that was founded in 1992 to provide legal practitioners with training and a forum for debate on the latest developments in European Law, had the honour of hosting this session.
For EUROFEDOP, secretary general Bert Van Caelenberg was present and spoke with the Minister about the positions taken by the Trade Council Justice of 10/02/2006.
The Minister stressed that the rights to freedom and security, to the respect of private and family life and to data protection need to be guaranteed. This is what Union citizens expect from an area of freedom, security and justice! The same applies to judicial rights, where I would particularly like to emphasise the rights to legal remedies as well as the presumption of innocence and the rights of defence. The core issue here, particularly in the framework of mutual recognition, is how and with what instruments these basic principles can be protected.

The Austrian presidency will press for minimum standards in the procedures for the recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions which have been delivered in other member states. These standards are necessary to ensure that the right of the accused to a fair and just trial, which is enshrined in different procedural laws of member states in different ways, can also be guaranteed even in cases where investigating authorities from several member states are involved. This way we hope to overcome the deadlocked discussions in the Council on minimum procedural standards which were also burdened by doubts on the additional benefits these would confer compared to the obligations laid down in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Useful links : www.era.int and www.eu2006.at

UGL Second Confederal Congress
Rome (Palace of Congresses), 02-04.02.2006

Polverini is the new General Secretary; Cetica is the President
Renata Polverini, 43 years old, is the new General Secretary of Ugl.
She succeeds to Stefano Cetica, who becomes the new President of the organisation.
Polverini is the first woman who is leader of a trade-union, in Italy.
In fact, the delegates of General Union of Labour Second Confederal Congress (which took place in Rome, Palace of Congresses, from 2 to 4 February) have elected the new trade-union leadership.
The General Secretary of Cgil, Guglielmo Epifani, and of Cisl, Savino Pezzotta, took part in the third session day of Congress. Adriano Musi, number two of Uil, was also present, and Pierpaolo Baretta (Cisl Confederal Secretary) and Carla Cantone (Cgil Confederal Secretary).
Also the Minister of Public Function, Mario Baccini, took part in the Congress and he said that "our Country can be governed with a strong pact between all the social parts".
"Many people was surprised by the presence of the three confederal trade-unions here - Pezzotta – these trade-unions are called “The Triple (Alliance, translator’s note)”, term that must been abolished". "I think that – he explains then – our presence here means that in a bipolar political system a bipolar trade-union system too cannot exist. Even if with different ideas, it isn’t useful a bipolar trade-union movement and I’m sure that politicians will not agree with this".
"It’s the first time that a Cgil General Secretary takes the floor in a Ugl conference – with these words Epifani has started his speech - and I seriously appreciate the efforts that have led you to be a modern trade-union with a strong identity and autonomy". According to Cgil’s General Secretary: "Autonomy is fundamental and it cannot be conquered once and for all, but it is a continuous process, a constant search that sink in the rigorous ability to construct an independent point of view on processes and problems which concern labour. Therefore I think that you have achieved this goal since when you changed name and from the old Cisnal you have built Ugl".

The Congress started with the participation of the outgoing General Secretary, Stefano Cetica. In its relation he made a strong request, among other things, in order to resume "as soon as possible a policy for the economic development of Southern Italy, as it was decided in the Pact for Italy".
Instead Cetica has asked to employers to focus their attention to the "core business", aiming for research, modernisation of structures, improvement of productivity.
According to Cetica, in fact, "it is difficult to watch with optimism to the future of our economy if some obstacles to the development are not removed". Cetica then is taken part in the debate on reform of collective bargaining agreements. "We want disillusion of who try to minimise national contracts with the proposal of local contracts for the main competencies".


These clear words have found a confirmation in the introductory relation of the new General Secretary, Renata Polverini.
"We have to fight against both old and new poverty - Polverini said - it is necessary to have a State, which is able to guarantee freedom and initiative, and also the conditions, which permit to private citizens and intermediate bodies to give many of the answers previously supplied by public sector, not always adequately".
Ugl General Secretary continued saying: "What we reject is the attack waged against our systems of social protection, which are considered as hitches for Country's competitiveness".
According to Polverini, therefore, "It should be recognised the necessity to concentrate the public resources in those functions that market is incapable to carry out, if not in an unequal way. Or in an expensive way, as it happens, too much often, in the case of the health services".
During the three days of UGL Congress session, the authorities were present in large number, both from institutional and labour world.
They were present, among the others: Gianfranco Fini (Vice-president of Council), Gianni Letta (Under-secretary of the Presidency of the Council), Roberto Maroni (Minister of Labour) and Altero Matteoli (Minister of Environment), the Vice-minister Mario Tassone, the Under-secretaries of Ministry of Labour, Pasquale Viespoli and Maurizio Sacconi, the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni.
There were also: Uil General Secretary, Luigi Angeletti, Cisl Confederal Secretary, Bonanni, Cisal General Secretary, Cavallaro.
They were present: as representatives of Eurofedop, the General Secretary, Bert Van Caelenberg, and the Treasurer, Wilhelm Gloss; moreover, the President of BSPSH Gezim Kalaja, Roberta Angelilli, Member of the European Parliament.
Maurizio Beretta and Giorgio Usai took part in the Congress in the name of Confindustria.
UGL International Office

Services directive - State of play
11.2005

a) State of play
In November 2005 the Committee Internal Market (IMCO) of the European Parliament adopted an amended version of the GEBHARDT report. The 14th of February this report will be presented in plenary for a first reading. Since the outcome in IMCO was very close it is not sure that some of the amendments will be carried in plenary. Divisions run through all political groups and between old and new member states. In the meantime, the European Commission has already announced that it will publish a revamped draft before the March Council summit.
This note will highlight some of the results of the vote in IMCO and point out a number of legal uncertainties. The emphasis will be on services of general interest and the country of origin principle.

b) Scope of the directive
The initial proposal of the Commission already excluded financial services and services governed by existing EU legislation such as postal and telecommunication services. The committee also excluded: services of general interest "as defined by the Member States", gambling, notaries and audiovisual services.
Regarding health services, the amended directive excludes: "healthcare, whether or not it is provided via healthcare facilities, and regardless of the ways in which it is organised and financed at national level or whether it is public or private". This provision was adopted with a slim majority (20 + and 18 -) of PSE and French, Belgian an Swedish members of the PPE.
Finally, article 2 also says that: "This directive shall not apply to the liberalisation of services of general economic interest, or to the privatisation of public entities providing such services".

c) SGI/SGEI
Recital 8 of the draft directive excludes "services of general interest that are provided and defined by the Member States". The present text contains references to SGI without, however, attempting to define them. According to legal experts the exclusion of the SGI cannot be guaranteed. Because there is no definition, an activity could fall within the scope of the directive in one Member State but not in another.
Regarding the services of general economic interest (SGEI), their exclusion (proposed by GEBHARDT) did not find a majority. The concept of SGEI is defined (article 4) and used several times in the body of the directive. These references however do not give an identical definition of SGEI.
In regard to situations which may be described as dual, where an undertaking or entity performs both SGI and SGEI tasks, the draft-directive applies the principle of dissociation of the activities in question. It will, therefore, apply the rules of Community law only to economic activities that can be dissociated from SGEI activities. In practice this distinction is, of course, sometimes difficult to make.

 

d) Country of origin principle/Freedom to provide services
Legal experts have criticised this principle because it will cause a competition between national legislations and is thus contrary to the realisation of the internal market. Although the principle already exists in Community legislation such as the "Television without frontiers directive", it seems legally questionable to turn it into a general rule. Moreover the list of derogations seems to indicate that the country of origin principle is not at all generally accepted. The effective control by the country of origin in all other member states seems rather difficult to implement.
The proposal of the rapporteur, which was to make a distinction between access (= country where provider is established) and exercise of services, was not followed by a majority. Article 16 reaffirms the country of origin principle but the rights of control by the country where the service is provided are enhanced. Contrary to the Commission's proposal the country of destination is allowed to enforce its specific requirements with regard to "the exercise of a service activity that are indispensable for reasons of public policy or public security".
A number of derogations of the general principle are also mentioned in the draft (Article 17).
"Article 16 shall not apply to:
(1) Services of general economic interest which are provided in another Member State:
(2) Postal services covered by Directive 97/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;"
Furthermore it is specified that "This Directive shall be without prejudice to labour law, and, in particular, to any provisions on relations between the social partners, including the right to take industrial action and the right to collective agreements. This Directive shall not affect national social security legislation in the Member States." Article 1 (4).
Finally, recital 7 recognises the roles of the social partners in the regulation of service activities. They were not mentioned in the original proposal of the European Commission. According to the Parliament the social partners should be informed and should be able to take part in the drafting of rules.

LMP meeting on implementing the OECD anti-bribery convention:
the role of trade unions
Paris, 23 January 2006

AIMS:
- Increase awareness of bribery and corruption and its implications for trade unions
- Improve awareness of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (OECD Anti-bribery Convention) and other anti-corruption instruments and their relevance to trade unions
- Improve understanding of the trade union role in enhancing the enforcement of the Convention and other anti-corruption activities
- Identify trade union priorities and resource needs

The meeting will discuss the following themes:
- Anti-corruption Instruments
OECD work on corruption including the OECD Guidelines for MNEs in perspective of the broader international efforts to prevent and combat corruption
- Trade Unions Combating Corruption
- Monitoring implementation and enforcement of the OECD Anti-bribery Convention and related instruments
Anti-bribery Convention Phase 2/Follow-up and the role of trade unions
- Trade Union Priorities: where to go from here?

Liaison Forum ”Integration of new member organisations”
12.01.2006, Centre Borschette, Brussels

The Liaison Forum is a well-established institution for information and exchange of views with both sectoral and cross-industry social partners.
In 2006, a first session of the liasion forum took place on 12.01.2006. It was more specifically intended for the presentation of social partners initiatives and the exchange of ideas and information on tools and information sources available to the social partners in this context.
The trade unions and employers gave information about initiatives that have been taken in the new countries. After an analysis of the needs, an overview of restructuring measures and the development of competencies, finally study centres have been created in these countries. To know the needs and give them necessary attention, to build up strong links, to take account of national realities and to bring around the table real responsibilities and competent people, have been the challenges.
Some of these objectives have been reached, others have not. The EU has co-financed most of these initiatives.
Difficulties to sit around the table with the employers have been successfully solved e.g. by UNI in the commerce sector. The local sector on the other hand is facing a lot of difficulties to discover who the real employers are. Nevertheless, this is one of the necessary requirements for the recognition as European social partners. The quality thinking that Eurofedop built its Congress on in 1998 is also an element that is more and more getting through to these partners.

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions gave more information on its model for capacity building for social dialogue. This institute also gave a demonstration on the use of its website. In this respect, especially the “Industrial Relations Dictionary” was explained.
An expert of the division EMPL/D1 and TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument, http://taiex.cec.eu.int/) outlined the possibilities of getting financial support. They can send experts and finance workshops and translations.
It will be possible to visit online the budget lines VP/2006/001 and 002 and also obligatory to introduce requests online.
Finally, the Commission also made some communications. Thus it will continue to execute a number of representativeness studies in 2006, in sectors such as Telecom, Transport and Health Services. Its intention with these studies is to obtain a “photograph” of the key role players in these sectors on the ground, also especially following the enlargement.
The participants’ attention was also drawn to the various publications on the theme of the year 2006 : “Mobility”. The Austrian Presidency will put this theme on the agenda of the Public Services Troika of 29.05.2006.

New judgment on time spent on call.
(16.01.2006)

Following the judgment in the Jaeger case, according to which time spent on call is considered working time in services such as emergency services, fire brigades and other continuous services, the Court of Justice delivered judgment in the case C-14/04 of Abdelkader Dellas on 01/12/05.
The trade unions in France had taken this case to court in France. Subsequently, the French court passed this case on to the Court of Justice in Luxemburg. The question was whether the provisions of directive 93/104 had been respected.

Only part of the time spent on call by this teacher in an institution for the young handicapped had namely been taken into account by the employer. As a result, the number of working hours performed by this worker quickly reached above 60 hours per week. As the directive rules that the working time may not exceed 48 hours per week, the French regulation is not in conformity with the European directive.
Info: www.curia.eu.int/nl/actu/activites/index.htm