ETUC Resolution: Towards a new impetus for public services

Adopted at theETUC Executive Committee on 1-2 June 2010

Introductory remarks

1. Quality of life of European citizens is fashioned greatly by public policies responsible for maintaining vital infrastructures like hospitals or roads and for providing major social services as health, housing and education. Public services1 are a pillar of the European social model, important for welfare and social cohesion, job creation and economic prosperity, contributing to more than 26% of the EU27 GDP and employing more than 64 million people. There is a fundamental mutuality between a prosperous modern economy and a fully developed public sector. A successful economy depends upon the availability of a well-educated workforce. This not only implies a need for a well-resourced, effective public education system but also for decent housing and effective health care. Public services are not only major employers but also purchasers of goods and services, investing more than 150 billion € yearly. Furthermore, public investments in green electricity, renewable energies and green transport should be important contributions to ensuring the transition to a sustainable and low carbon economy.

2. Public services are confronted today with a double challenge: the worst crisis since the 1930s and the ongoing policy emphasis on the austerity measures by the European Institutions. The public sector has become the main target to compensate for the budget deficits generated by the financial bail-outs for defaulting banks. Draconian cuts in public expenditure are imposed by various national governments seriously jeopardizing social justice and social inclusion. The European Commission exerts pressure on member states by giving absolute priority to budget consolidation over growth. This will further deepen the recession resulting in high unemployment. The quality of public services and their accessibility for citizens will be dramatically reduced, whilst the financial and banking sector reaps in massive profits again. Moreover, even in the middle of the crisis, the Commission is upholding its approach of putting competition first. It is interfering with the competence of the Member States when defining public services, for instance when limiting the scope of social housing in the Netherlands. This intrusion is unacceptable as it severely limits the possibilities of financing quality public services.

- For the full text (EN / FR)

More like this