(25 February 2016) The European Union does not need more austerity and structural reform. We need public investment in people and infrastructure including in education, health and social services. And after years of wage freezes and cuts in pay, Europe needs wage growth. That will get the EU out of the economic crisis. That was the message of EPSU to the gathering of mayors from Europe’s major cities, 22 February.
The mayors were discussing the follow up and concrete actions after the Declaration on Work of 2015. They proposed a series of concrete actions to several European Commissioners including for social affairs. The cities are working on issues like youth, long-term unemployed, innovation, refugees, procurement and more (please see document below). EPSU and Eurocities are considering in which areas to develop further work. We are both interested to develop social criteria in procurement as public funding should be used to stimulate local social development. Ensuring that the role of local authorities in the collaborative and circular economy is recognized and that the local authorities have an important role to play to stimulate it and ensure all can join in is another important area of work.
EPSU is more critical of the use of social impact bonds. This is based on the experience with public private partnerships. It will be of interest for both organisations to further exchange on this to understand the concerns. Municipalities should not have to turn to the private sector for their investments due to restrictions on obtaining funds and organizing their bonds as part of austerity policies. Austerity policies have squeezed local investment in many countries. This is damaging to local economies, growth, jobs and the future prospects of the cities to face up to the many challenges ahead of us.
The organisation www.eurocities.eu brings together some of Europe’s largest cities. Eurocities also celebrated its 30th anniversary on 22 February 2016. The EPSU General Secretary participated in the meeting.