On 19 June 2019, the EESC adopted opinion TEN/692 on essential services in the context of the Social Pillar. Even though the Employers' Group members supported the document, we would like to express our reservations towards the fact, that economic aspect of essential services was insufficiently tackled in the opinion.
The employers support the European social model where services of general and public interest are at the core of what the European society is. The opinion addressed which services should be considered as essential and states the importance of quality, safety, affordability and accessibility of such services. However, the cost of the services and ways to finance them was entirely omitted. This makes the document incomplete.
By having no reference to economic aspects, we create an impression that each service can be provided without any economic conditions. This leads to unrealistic societal expectations that feed negative reaction, as it can be impossible to fulfil citizens' expectations.
Further, in several circumstances public authorities do not properly plan how to provide and pay for these services. This creates problems both for companies being providers and citizens being end users. In our opinion, we need to clarify how essential services are to be financed (by taxes or by the users). In case there is no resources to finance such service, one should remain realistic in creating expectations to the society.
Moreover, when authorities impose public service obligation on companies, it should be properly compensated. Otherwise, such companies might face economic difficulties or even bankruptcy.
Jacek P. Krawczyk
President of the Employers' Group