EPSU is disappointed about Parliament's vote on Concessions

Parliament’s position weakens public services

(30 January 2013) On 23 January, the internal market committee of the European Parliament (IMCO) voted on the amendments to the Commission Proposal on the so-called concessions directive. The European Commission has argued that the directive would make it easier for private companies to run public services. It would encourage public-private partnerships operating public services for profit. EPSU together with other unions and organisations argued that the Directive should be rejected and if not that it should be clear that the directive should exclude public and social services. Neither these exclusions, nor specific amendments to exclude the water sector were adopted.

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) Deputy General Secretary, Jan Willem Goudriaan says ‘The MEPs’ vote has not delivered for Europe’s workers and citizens. The text risks to expose a broad range of public services to profit-maximising providers and so conflict with what citizens want from public services: reliable, affordable and democratically controlled provision, taking their needs and quality as a starting point. They do not want to see these services contributing to the wealth of a few’.

EPSU is concerned that this directive promotes competition in public services leading to a worsening of the quality of these services. There is ample research which underlines the risks of increased costs and the worsening of working conditions, with more workers threatened with precarious employment. The directive will encourage municipalities to put concessions, from water, to waste, to social services, on the market from a certain threshold (8 million Euros). This threshold is rather low given the long-term contracts involvedo put concessions, from water, to waste, to social services, on the market from a certain threshold (8 million Euros). This threshold is rather low given the long-term contracts involved.

The public tendering of such concessions will have to follow certain rules. EPSU and others have argued that these rules should include social and environmental criteria so public funds would serve to strengthen a social and ecological sustainable future. We have also argued that the directive should ensure that the public authorities can demand respect for collective agreements. The proposals which have been adopted are weak.

Member State governments and the European Parliament will now start their negotiations to come up with a common text. These are behind closed doors. The decision on the final adoption of the directive by the Members of the European Parliament will be in March.

EPSU will continue to promote quality public services in Europe and will try to influence the discussion. Public services represent the core values of the European social model such as protection of fundamental rights, equal treatment, universality, continuity, affordability, protection of users and democratic control.

That is why we will also continue to promote the European Citizens Campaign for Water as Human Right and oppose the liberalization of water services. (www.right2water.eu)

For more information contact Pablo Sanchez, psanchez@epsu.org 0032 (0) 474 62 66 33

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