BICA took part in Informal Consultations on the Evening of the Summit for the Future of Europe in Sibiu

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“The European social model can only be sustainable if it is supported by a competitive industry,”said BICA Secretary-General Dr Milena Angelova during an informal meeting with EU Council President Donald Tusk and EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, with Employment Commissioner Marianne Tissen and European social partners ahead of the upcoming Sibiu Summit on 9 May. She participated in the meeting as acting Chair of the European Center for Public Services Enterprises and Vice-Chair of the European Economic and Social Committee.

In her words, the recent slowdown in EU economic growth has shown that European economies are too dependent on the global economic environment. “This is a reason to work even harder to promote cohesion and economic and social progress”, added Dr Angelova during the informal meeting. She stressed the importance of a competitive industry, as well as the importance of investing in Europe, and especially of education, qualification and retraining. It also touched on the problem of human resources shortages, saying that it could not be resolved without timely reforms in the education systems of the Member States. The planning and implementation of such reforms should be appropriately supported and promoted in the preparation of the future Multiannual Financial Framework, through joint action by the social partners and public institutions.

The aim of the event was for the social partners in Europe to share their expectations for the development of the European Union and to contribute to the text of the Strategic Agenda for Europe 2019-2024, which EU leaders and Member States will discuss and adopt during at the informal summit in Sibiu on May 9. The social partners also presented their joint declaration on the importance of the rule of law.

Among the main topics discussed by the Presidents of the most important European institutions and European employers’ and trade union organizations were the digitization and the need for human resources with skills and knowledge sought in the labor market, the creation of policies and instruments for strengthening the EU, investment and the convergence of regions.

Employers’ organizations supported Ms Angelova’s stated need for urgent policies to tackle staffing shortages and promote skills and retraining to meet labor market needs, as the shortage of skilled labor in the EU is becoming a major factor, holding back economic growth. The meeting also called for improving and increasing investment in education systems and increased access to lifelong learning.

According to the participants, sustainable investments, instruments and policies in key physical and social infrastructures are essential to stimulate and promote the process of strengthening, converging and enhancing the Union’s competitiveness. They demanded that the need for investment be made more explicit in the final statement in Sibiu.

The meeting was attended by the chairmen and secretaries-general of the BUSINESSEUROPE Confederation, the European Center for Employers and Public Interest Enterprises and Services of General Interest (CEEP), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Crafts Association and SMEs (SMEUnited).