Joint Social Partner Statement Local and Regional Government – High-level Summit on Social Dialogue

The Social Partners CEMR and EPSU discussed their input to the High-Social Summit on 5th of March 2015 at their meeting on 24th of February 2015 and call all stakeholders to reflect on the following:

- Role of the Sectoral SDC on LRG as legitimate and reliable intermediary between LRG and the European institutions in all the areas that have an impact on employers and employees in local and regional governments;
- Necessary involvement in the social dialogue developments, in the legislative procedures and European Semester process;
- Harness the exchange of good practices and knowledge through a bottom-up approach to improve EU legislation in relevant fields, based on LRG expertise to tackle the challenges incurred by the economic, social and financial crisis;
- Re-launch of social dialogue must be followed up by fulfilled promises and concrete actions to enhance the situation and meet the expectations.

- Key role of the Sectoral SDC on LRG: a reliable intermediary between the LRG sector and the European Commission
CEMR and EPSU see the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Local and Regional Governments as a key partnership instrument between the European Commission and the local and regional authorities, both from the point of view of municipalities and regions as well as the municipal trade unions represented by EPSU. The Sectoral SDC has proved its usefulness and efficiency and embodies one of the few partnership arrangements between the Commission and local and regional authorities and municipal unions. Its commitment to achieve genuine outcomes and progress makes of this platform a reliable and responsible partner for the European Commission.

- Endorsement of the Juncker’s Commission commitment to relaunch social dialogue:
CEMR, as the largest voice of local and regional governments and their representative as social partner in the European social dialogue and EPSU as the most representative trade union organization for local government workers, is keen to build on and deepen that partnership in the new European Commission mandate, where we particularly welcome that social dialogue has become one of the Commission key priorities. This welcomed perspective requires promoting social dialogue both at the European and national level, taking on board multiple social partners and leaving room of manoeuver for collective bargaining at all levels.

- Will and readiness to fully exploit the potential of the Sectoral SDC of LRG: the key challenge of involvement
In that respect we should reconsider and strengthen the role of the Sectorial Social Dialogue Committee for Local and Regional Governments by fully exploiting its potential. In particular we see a role of the Committee in the so-called “Better Regulation agenda”: this Committee is ideally placed to act as a sounding board for the Commission to assess the impact of existing legislation and address necessary inputs across the 28 Member States both from the point of employers and employees representatives on the local and regional level. Local and Regional Governments have a proved, recognised and evidence-based expertise on the means to tackle the numerous issues of unemployment, quality of jobs, training and reskilling, working patterns, gender equality, migration and sustainability of the workforce and the workplace, funding of municipalities, and service delivery through jointly delivered instruments.

- Necessity to consult at an early stage: instauration of a mechanism of alert, consultation and monitoring
There is a not sufficiently exploited role for this Committee to look at pre-legislative phase as to assess the impact of relevant EU social legislation at local and regional level. This applies both at the stakeholder consultation in the legislative drafting but equally when the Commission intents to launch impact assessments, as the expertise gathered in the Committee can sense-check the terms of reference and potential sampling of these impact assessments as to make sure they are fit to purpose. LRG and municipal trade unions are used to adopt an evidence-based approach when elaborating and implementing policies and initiatives.

- Exchange of good practices: harnessing knowledge and experiences
The work of the Committee cannot be seen in isolation within DG EMPL or the Commission at large, instead it should be a key avenue to help the Commission policy development as well as a reservoir of know-how and exchanges of best practices across all Member States.

- The European Semester process: inclusion of the Sectoral SDC on LRG to better address the issues and outcomes
A yet unexploited opportunity is to use the Committee to assist in the preparation of the Country Specific Recommendations. We noted that the preparation of the CSR is very patchy across Member States when it comes to the engagement of the local and regional employer and municipal trade unions. While the European Commission is expected to uptake an inclusive approach by individual national government, the Committee can be used as a helpful platform to partially address that gap so as to help enrich the drafting of its CSR. Local and regional governments play an overall role as socio-economic actors and by fostering growth, competitiveness and employment at macro-economic and local scales. In that respect, the European Semester process requires improving its transparency and an upstream consultation of social partners, as well as strengthening the involvement of local and regional authorities and their legitimate forum at the EU-level: the Social Dialogue Committee on Local and Regional Governments.

- What’s next? Fulfilling the promises and nothing else
While the Sectoral SDC on LRG welcomes and supports the European Commission’s initiative to organise a High-Level Summit and the President’s Junker commitment to be the “President of the social dialogue”, it will monitor the follow up of this relaunch and judge the Commission on its actual and concrete initiatives to reach the goals and targets set.
The European citizens and of course the employers and trade unions in local and regional governments would not understand any dilution or the abandon of these ambitions, as the expectations are high and the needs significant.

- Read our Joint Press Release

- Read our article "A new start for social dialogue"