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February - May 2012

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24/02/2012 - Liaison Forum at DG EMPL - Information session on the "White paper - An agenda for adequate, safe and sustainable pensions"

In the framework of the Liaison Forum, the DG EMPL invited the representatives of the EU cross-industry and sectoral social partners to discuss on the white paper concerning pensions, published by the Commission on 16 February (see in this regard the Secretariat note of 1st March 2012).

European pension systems are under pressure from demographic ageing as a result of increases in longevity and declining birth rates. This document contains a package of policy initiatives to support EU countries in reforming their pension systems. The Commission’s presentation was given by Fritz von Nordheim from DG EMPL (Unit D.3, Active Ageing, Pensions, Healthcare, and Social Services) and was followed by a debate between participants.

28/02/2012 - Meeting on Multi-stakeholder CSR platforms in relevant business sectors at DG Enterprise and Industry

 Since its communication on CSR in October 2011, the Commission is now putting in place some initiatives outlined in the document (see in this regard the Secretariat note of 10th November 2011). One of the actions proposed was “to create in 2013 multi-stakeholder CSR platforms in a number of relevant industrial sectors to make public commitments on the CSR issues relevant to each sector and jointly monitor progress”. In order to increase public recognition on companies’ activities in the field of CSR, the Commission aims to disseminate good practice, to foster peer learning and to encourage more companies to develop their own strategic approaches to CSR.

 During the meeting, participants were informed that the Commission wishes to put a particular focus on sectoral approaches and on the diffusion of responsible business conduct through the supply chain. In this regard, its intention is to support the creation of those platforms with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders and therefore not only social partners but as well single companies, NGO’s etc. The outcome of those platforms should be, amongst others, the adoption of joint commitments to address CSR challenges. The following sectors had expressed their interest in establishing multi-stakeholder platforms on a voluntary basis: pharmaceutical, internet, agro-food supply chain and tourism.

 The EFCI, together with other employer associations, expressed its serious doubts about this initiative by particularly stressing that such an initiative should be initiated by companies (bottom-up) and not imposed by the Commission. Furthermore, it stressed the need to clarify the interference with the activities of the existing sectoral social dialogue Committees in 40 sectors. The Commission representatives responded that the initiative was purely based on a voluntary basis and that no sector is forced to engage in the initiative.

14/03/2012 - European Employers’ Network (EEN) at BusinessEurope

The EEN, which is organised several times per year by BusinessEurope, offers a regular platform of information, discussion and exchanges of experience on issues of concern for European employers associations’ representatives. The following subjects were discussed:

  • Posting of workers / Monti II regulation: exchange of information on ongoing lobby activities
  • Activities in the cross-industry social dialogue: working time and social dialogue work programme
  • Activities in the sectoral social dialogue: exchange of information on the basis of the monitor report and ongoing social impact assessments
  • Update on other social affairs dossiers: employment package; restructuring green paper; youth opportunities initiative; women in decision making; CSR; pensions; MSD’s

16/03/2012 - European social dialogue Committee meeting on industrial cleaning

Jointly organised by UNI Europa and the EFCI, this meeting was dedicated to the following issues:

  • Presentation of the project “Prevention of MDS’s in the cleaning industry”, carried out by FARE, partner organisation of French EFCI member FEP:

→ General presentation of FARE activities by Francis Levy, FARE General Secretary

→ General presentation of the project by Betty Vadeboin, FARE Head of projects regarding work organisation and health in the workplace

  • Presentation of the joint campaign on daytime cleaning, carried out by the Belgian social partners: presentation by UNI Europa member Dominique Fervaille (FGTB) and Steven De Cleer (ABSU/UGBN)
  • Update on the revision of the EU directive on public procurement: possible joint lobbying activities of social partners
  • Follow-up on the on-going representativeness study carried out by the Dublin Agency Eurofound

20/03/2012 - Public hearing of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO-Committee) at the European Parliament: Modernising EU public procurement rules - at the service of sustainable growth in lean times

After its publication by the Commission last December, the proposal for modernising EU public procurement rules was transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council in order to launch the legislative procedure. As the IMCO-Committee was appointed as Committee responsible for proposing eventual amendments to the proposal (see in this regard the Secretariat note of 30th March 2012), its Chair decided to organise a public hearing in order to question experts and to hold discussions on the key issues related to the proposal.

To this end, the IMCO-Committee invited all interested stakeholders with a view to making the public procurement rules more efficient and more supportive of common societal goals. The hearing was animated by the Chair of the IMCO-Committee, the British conservative Malcolm Harbour and by the Rapporteur, the Belgian socialist Marc Tarabella. It was mainly dedicated to two questions: How to make the most out of the strategic dimensions of public procurement (using green and social criteria in practice) and how to find the right balance for modern public procurement rules (flexibility versus legal clarity). During the hearing, different experts in the field of public procurement elaborated their views on the key issues of the proposal and answered different questions from Committee members.

28/03/2012 - Partnership meeting on the European campaign “Healthy Workplaces 2012-2013” organised by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)

Since 2006, EU-OSHA has run several European campaigns promoting health and safety at work. More than 30 countries have participated to these various campaigns and some 4 million information materials have been distributed in all official EU languages. The actual campaign on “Working together for risk prevention” will be officially launched on 18 April 2012. In order to promote the official launch of the campaign, OSHA organised a partnership meeting in Brussels and presented the campaign to European stakeholders, mainly employer associations, trade unions and NGO’s. The aim was to attract potential campaign partners and to discuss their potential involvement in the campaign process.

 According to the Commission, more than 5.500 people are killed every year in the EU due to accidents at work. The Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2012-2013 therefore aims to offer support to companies and workers in assessing and decreasing risks in the workplace. The campaign will be focused on prevention and will be concentrated on company managements, largely responsible for health and safety at work. The main objective is to raise awareness on risk prevention among stakeholders and to disseminate best practices.

28/03/2012 - Liaison Forum at DG EMPL - Information session on the proposals concerning the posting of workers’ directive and Monti II regulation

In the framework of the Liaison Forum, the DG EMPL invited representatives of the EU cross-industry and sectoral social partners to discuss the two legislative proposals published by the Commission on 21 March to increase the protection of workers temporarily posted abroad (see in this regard the Secretariat note of 12th April 2012).

The overall objective of both proposals is to strengthen the social dimension of the internal market and restore confidence among stakeholders as well as to clarify that economic freedoms and fundamental social rights are at equal footing within the Single Market. The Commission’s presentation was given by Sjoerd Feenstra and Florian Schierle from DG EMPL (Unit B.2, Labour Law) and was followed by a debate between participants.

29/03/2012 - European Business Services Round Table at the ETSA offices

The aim of EBSRT is to develop a common platform for business-related services on issues of mutual interest. It gathers representatives of services sector associations across Europe. The following subjects were presented and discussed. Next to Andreas Lill, two EFCI members were present: Andrew Large from the UK and Giuseppe Gherardelli from Italy:

  • EBSRT chairman’s welcome: Norman Rose
  • New CSR initiatives: Iris Kroening, European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry, CSR Team
  • The public procurement directives and other issues: Malcolm Harbour, MEP, Chairman of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO-Committee) of the European Parliament, which is the responsible Committee for the dossier at the European Parliament

29/03/2012 - 6th meeting of the Life+ project at EFCI premises

This meeting was organised in the frame of the European sustainability project, carried out by the French member association FEP and financially supported by the European Commission under the Life + programme. Next to FEP, the EFCI and the representatives from the other partner associations from Belgium, Germany, Italy and the UK were present. The following items were discussed:

  • Reminder of objectives and schedule for the adaptation and testing of the self-assessment tool
  • Roundtable: progress review of partner associations’ sustainability programs
  • FEP progress review
  • End of project at the European conference in Rome on 28 September 2012
  • Progress-report and visit of European Commission monitoring team

The main outcomes of the meeting were the reports from the four partner associations regarding their steps taken in implementing the self-assessment software. Finally, participants discussed the final presentation of the European sustainability project during the September EFCI Circle meeting on 28 September 2012 in Rome.

19/04/2012 - Meeting at Eurofound Brussels liaison office concerning the 2011 representativeness studies on European sectoral social partners organisations

Since 2006, the European Commission has mandated Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) to carry out studies on the representativeness of European sectoral social partners’ organisations (employer associations and trade unions). The aim of the representativeness studies is to identify the relevant national employers’ and trade unions’ associations in the field of industrial relations in a specific sector in order to provide information needed for the setting up and functioning of sectoral social dialogue Committees at EU level.

 Last year, the EFCI was informed that the Commission had requested Eurofound to carry out a representativeness study of our industry (see in this regard the Secretariat note of 13th April 2011). Firstly, Eurofound contacted all EFCI members through its European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO) network of 27 national research institutes in the EU in order to collect relevant data for the study. In a second step, each national research institute drafted a national report and Eurofound drafted a general overview report of our industry.

The meeting aimed to officially present the main outcomes of the study for validation of EU social partners and to discuss eventual remaining questions. The main outcome is that EFCI and UNI-Europa are the EU-wide representatives of the cleaning industry sector’s employers and employees. Furthermore, the EFCI raised some specific questions mainly related to the data provided in the overview report. Eurofound representatives agreed to either make the necessary corrections or to at least introduce them in a footnote of the text.

04/05/2012 - Informal meeting organised by DG EMPL between representatives of sectoral social partner associations concerning the legislative proposal on public procurement

On the initiative of DG EMPL, several sectoral partners associations discussed eventual points in common regarding the public procurement legislative proposal, which is actually discussed within the European Parliament. Next to the EFCI, the sectors represented (either by both the employers and trade union side or by one of the sides) were: Private security, Catering, Textiles, Construction, Live performance, Road transport, Iron & Steel, Electricity, Woodworking, Central administrations and Local and regional governments. 

During the discussions, in which each sector resumed his specific interests and points of concern regarding this policy issue, it became clear that the other sectors representing labour intensive services share similar concerns as the EFCI. As a result, it was agreed that the EFCI together with CoESS (private security) and FERCO (catering) as well as the related trade unions (UNI-Europa and EFFAD) will explore ways to draft a joint statement on the following points of concern:

-       Lowest cost versus the most economically advantageous tender (article 66 of the proposal)

-       Abnormally low tenders (article 69 of the proposal)

-       Electronic auctions (article 33 of the proposal)

-       Transparency / monitoring of public procurement processes (articles 83-88)

The representatives of the textiles and construction sector expressed their strong interest in being informed about this exercise in order to eventually join this initiative.

21/05/2012 - Thematic Liaison Forum on Jobs and Skills at the European Commission, DG EMPL

The “Liaison Forum”, which is organised several times per year by DG EMPL, offers a regular platform of information, discussion and exchanges of experience on subjects of interest for EU social partners’ representatives. This one-day thematic Liaison Forum brought together representatives from cross-industry and sectoral social partner organisations engaged in EU social dialogue as well as representatives of the European Commission (from DG Employment and DG Education & Culture). Following the "Employment package" published by the Commission on 18 April 2012 (see in this regard the Secretariat note of 3rd May 2012), it appears clear that high skills levels remain essential to find a job, but there are an increasing number of vacancies for which the right skills are not available on EU labour market. Skills’ needs have to be more anticipated in the EU as to equip workers with the right skills needed for finding jobs. The main purpose of the meeting was to take stock of EU policy developments in the field of skills forecasting and tackling skills mismatches in the current difficult policy environment. Furthermore, social partners discussed about their involvement and responsibilities in this domain and exchanged their initiatives and experiences as to assess the scope for synergies and joint actions across sectors.

30/05/2012 - IMCO-Committee meeting on the public procurement reform at the European Parliament (Presentation of the Rapporteur’s draft report and debate)

At the IMCO-Committee meeting, were present five shadow Rapporteurs, most of the IMCO members and a European Commission’s representative, with the aim to consider the Rapporteur’s draft report. After a presentation of the draft report by the Rapporteur Marc Tarabella, five of the shadow rapporteurs gave their opinion on the document and a general discussion followed. The draft report focused on two key themes of the public procurement reform:

a) How to make the most of using strategic, notably social, procurement criteria and;

b) How to achieve procedural simplification and flexibility, including the promotion of e-procurement.

 

The following main subjects were highlighted: the definition of social criteria and their taking into consideration in the selection and in the award phase, the need to better define the Most Economically Advantageous Offer (MEAT), the generalisation of e-procurement for 2016, the abolition of the distinction between A and B services, the thresholds’ amounts and the subcontracting chain.

 

The Rapporteur Marc Tarabella explained that he was opened to discuss and work on all the key issues underlined by speakers. Other priorities for the Rapporteur were possible exemptions from procurement rules for cooperation between public authorities; access of SME’s and strengthened oversight in the form of national enforcement bodies. On the demand of many IMCO members, he accepted to postpone the deadline for amendments, initially foreseen for the 14th June, until the 5th July in order to allow for his colleagues to write their amendments in time. The Chairman of the IMCO-Committee Malcolm Harbour (ECR) closed the meeting after two hours of intensive debate.