CEMR-EP/EPSU Joint Message to the Spring European Council 2009

EU Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Regional and Local Government

1. The financial and economic crisis is having a major impact on the living and
working conditions of people. It can already be observed that the most
vulnerable groups are hit hardest, for example third-country migrants and
long-term unemployed, but also young people and single parent families, who
risk falling into precarious situations.

2. Local and regional authorities are also confronted with the impact of the crisis
on society and they have to take measures to ensure social stability and to
prevent social exclusion. They also have to satisfy the increasing need for
social assistance and welfare to the vulnerable and people in need.

3. It is clear that the crisis puts pressure on industry and business, which are
very much affected especially in the some specific sectors. Reduced demand
for products results in layoffs and increased unemployment. It is therefore
relevant to take specific measures in the area of employment.

4. As the crisis deepens, there is a growing impact on the economic situation
and, closely related to that, the finances and the investment capacity of cities,
municipalities and regions. And this in turn can lead to a further deterioration
of the economy. Adequate financial resources for local and regional
authorities are therefore necessary to meet growing and new demands
brought about by the crisis.

5. CEMR-EP and EPSU wish to express that the public sector has a major
positive impact on employment, which should be better taken into account
when looking for solutions to the economic crisis.

6. Many measures proposed by the European Commission and the Member
States concern investment in public infrastructure, energy efficiency, the
promotion of low-carbon economy and further sustainable actions. All these
actions are implemented to a great extent at local and regional level.

7. We welcome the message from the Employment Council on 9 March, which
states that it needs a coordinated EU response that fully integrates growth,
employment, social inclusion and social protection and that all relevant
economic and social actors should be directly involved to achieve an effective
delivery of the policy measures.

8. As social partners in the European Social Sectoral Dialogue, CEMR-EP and
EPSU want to highlight that it is important for both, employers and
employees, to keep employment in the local and regional government stable.

9. Our sector has an exemplary role in many aspects: the percentage of women
and arrangements to allow the conciliation of work and family life is higher
than in most other sectors. Many public bodies also have special work
arrangements for specific groups, such as older workers, people with migrant
background, persons with reduced abilities, etc. Local and regional
government also provide valuable services that support gender equality and
the reconciliation of professional and family responsibilities in all sectors of
the economy.

10. We wish to highlight the importance that these initiatives should not be at risk
in the economic crisis but to find solutions that will allow a certain level of
stability. The public sector should not be forced to give up its long-term
planning and sustainable approach, which embraces the economic, social
and environmental dimension.

11. CEMR-EP and EPSU discuss, share good examples and promote measures
to achieve gender equality and ensure diversity in employment in local and
regional government.

12. In times of increasing unemployment and structural changes it is important to
invest in human capital. Education, qualification, training should be stimulated
and encouraged at all levels and for all ages.

13. Special programmes for specific groups should be designed and
implemented in order to better qualify the personnel for the anticipated
changes. We therefore welcome the European Commission’s initiative “new
skills for new jobs”.

14. CEMR-EP and EPSU will explore in the context of their Sectoral Social
Dialogue Committee, what initiatives can be taken by local and regional
governments to see how this initiative can be applied in our sector.

15. Local and regional government face pressure to cut expenses and to
increase the efficiency and quality of their services. Last year, we have
examined reforms in public service provision and how these changes can be
better prepared, implemented and monitored in cooperation by sides,
employers and employees. In following up the findings of our study, we will
develop recommendations and encourage our members to make use of

16. Our case studies showed that reform processes and change management
went smoothly if conducted in a transparent and inclusive manner, followed
by scrutiny, evaluation and review procedures. This conclusion should also
be taken into consideration in the current situation.

17. It is relevant to remind that the recovery of the economy cannot happen
without well-functioning local and regional authorities. The quality of their
services depends to a great extend on a qualified, motivated and dedicated
workforce. It should therefore be in our common interest to recognise the
important role and contribution of the public sector in general and the local and regional government in particular.