Report of the President of CEPLIS, Mr. Rudolf Kolbe, on the achievements of CEPLIS regarding our main axes of work during the year 2018

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am once more very pleased to see so many familiar faces, here in the premises of the European Parliament at the occasion of our second statutory General Assembly meeting of 2018. It is already a number of years, since 2015, that we are privileged to meet in these prestigious premises every time we hold our General Assembly meetings in Brussels and this is obviously yet another small proof of the excellent reputation and the respect our CEPLIS enjoys amongst the institutions and organs of the European Union. I take this opportunity to warmly thank my compatriot, the Austrian MEP, Mr. Josef Weidenholzer for the patronage of today’s meeting here and his team for being so helpful.

It is now the eighth time that I stand in front of you in order to report on the work of CEPLIS during the time that has passed since a previous General Assembly meeting, and I can’t hide my satisfaction for the fact that every time, the progress and the results achieved by OUR collective work in Brussels, make me proud to be the elected President of this organization!

Four axes of work were assigned to us at our meeting of November 2017 in Rome:

Strengthening the Core Values of our Professions,

Focusing on Networking and Public Affairs

Monitoring the ongoing European Legislative Processes – Trends with an impact to our Sector

And Monitoring the Refugee Crisis and the ongoing negotiations for Brexit

As regards the first axe, I am glad to observe that our booklet on the common ethical principles to all our professions remains an invaluable visit card for CEPLIS, immediately placing every discussion we are having with any possible interlocutors in a context where the observance of high ethical standards is both the guarantee of the quality of the advice and services we provide to our clients and patients and the most essential component of our identity as a socio-economic category.

Obviously in all fora I, or any member of our Board, or our Director General, are invited to speak, the highest possible emphasis is put on the ethical dimension transcending all our professions and assistance is proposed to those professional associations that are working towards strengthening their Codes of Conduct and intensifying their work on ethics. This last September, for example, Ben Rizzo and Dr. Koutroubas have participated in the international Congress of the Romanian Regulatory Body for Nursing and Midwifery, in order to present our Common Principles and to assist our colleagues in setting up an observatory for professional ethics in the healthcare sector of their country. I am also pleased with the fact that several of our member organization are requesting our advice when updating or re-drafting their European Conduct Codes  and make sure that our Common Principles are included in their own texts, obviously adapted to their proper professional characteristics.

Our Centre for Professional Ethics in Malta is continuing its good work and its coming meeting is scheduled to be held this Friday the 30th of November in order to evaluate the results of the project it has launched last March and on which you have been informed by Professor Benoît Rihoux at the occasion of our Permanent Committee meeting in Paris. I reiterate my hope to see a number of good publications coming out of its activities – probably the current project can provide for such an opportunity – and to have it integrated in the near future within an EU funded project.

Regarding the second axe, you have all followed from the Telegram, our website and tweeter accounts, the general mailings we sent you, etc., the constant flow of news concerning our networking with both stakeholders and decision makers relevant to our sector. Our relations with the European Commission and more specifically the Units of the DG Growth responsible for our field are optimal. We are currently planning a second breakfast meeting with MEPs in this House at the beginning of the new year in order to evaluate legislative                                                                                                                                                                       touching our professions and to exchange ideas on the future. At the level of the European Economic and Social Committee, we have managed to set up a category of liberal professions inside its III Group and as you know I was elected as its co-spokesperson. Tomorrow, the Day of the Liberal Professions of the EESC will count two of our Vice-presidents, our colleagues Professor Ortega from UP and Mr. Blanchecotte from UNAPL amongst its speakers. Even at the level of the Council, the initiative of our Italian member Confprofessioni, headed by our First Vice-president, Mr. Gaetano Stella, to organize visits of the rotating Presidencies, associating CEPLIS, in order to raise awareness on the issues we consider crucial for our professional exercise, for our clients and patients and indeed for public health and safety in tomorrow’s Europe, brought our networking to yet another level of success. The two meetings we held this November in our offices in Brussels, in the context of the EU funded project on the sustainability of the social dialogue in the field of the liberal Professions, were very well attended and have provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen ties and network with old allies and friends, such as for example Eurocadres, with which CEPLIS is linked with a strategic partnership since many years already. We are looking forward to the continuation of the project during the coming year and we are hopeful that the results will persuade the European Commission to give more opportunities in the form of EU-funded projects to consortia composed by our members and by CEPLIS.

Monitoring the ongoing European legislative processes and trends with an impact to our sector is of course the reason we do that networking. Via the Telegram and the general mailings sent by our Secretariat you are kept constantly informed about all the ongoing evolutions that regard us, including on Brexit’s potential consequences for our sector and on the refugee crisis. Several of them, like the Directive on Proportionality, the Services Package of the Commission in general, or the Directive on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications, are being constantly monitored – and I take this opportunity to salute once more the work of Simone’s group and the very good analysis provided by our Director General, Professor Koutroubas, on the above. In what regards the Commission’s package on Services, the infamous proposed modification of the Directive on Services in the Internal Market giving the European Commission the power to block any new national regulation it could judge incompatible with the said Directive, is for the moment stopped, because the negotiations on a tripartite between the EP, the Council and the Commission were not successful.  Our Secretariat is of course very aware of the importance of assuring the highest possible visibility for our group and actively participates in all conferences and forums organized by the European institutions. CEPLIS has thus been present at the European Commission’s SME Assembly, in Graz, at the “Colloque sur le Code européen des Affaires”, organized by the Permanent Representation of France to the European Union earlier this month and at the Conversation with Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on the subject “The Eurozone: an undefined future?”, during which the Commissioner in question has shared with a small number of handpicked stakeholders his views on Brexit, the future of Europe, the situation in Italy, the coming European elections, etc. CEPLIS was also present, at the kind invitation of UEAPME, at the special colloquium that marked the change of name of the said organization, now known as “SME United”. Let me also remind you that we are participating in all the Meetings with Stakeholders the European Commission’s DG GROWTH is organizing in order to discuss all issues under its supervision. At the latest of these meetings, the 14th of this November, DG GROWTH has discussed with us the Commission’s Work Program for 2019, the Opportunities that Artificial Intelligence represents for SMEs and the recent developments regarding SME performance.  Many other issues have been brought to your attention and you were asked if you want us to actively follow them or not. Please remember, CEPLIS is a tool, a very useful and efficient one, but the good services of a tool depend on the persons who do decide to use it. The more actively you are involved in the works of CEPLIS, the more you ask us to work on issues you are interested in, the more you’ll benefit from your membership.

In that context I would like to salute the initiative of our Spanish member, Union Profesional, to ask for CEPLIS’ collaboration on a very interesting and particularly important document relating to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The document that for which I am going to ask you to vote during this meeting is of a great significance for our future and we are proud to have been involved in this initiative.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I feel that our success in achieving our goals this year should make us even more ambitious. 2019 is a year of elections for a new European Parliament and a New College of Commissioners will be seating in Brussels before its end. It is very crucial for us to try to inform and influence the candidates and afterwards those who will be elected about the concerns, the wishes and the proposals of our sector, a sector that is essential not only for the growth of the Union, its development as a knowledge based leading economy and its quality of services and employment, but for its very soul as a democracy based on the rule of law.

For this reason, I would like to propose that CEPLIS adopts a memorandum to the attention of candidates and future MEPs and Commissioners, including, notably, the two following points:

Re-activation of the process, begun by former Commissioner Tajani and stopped the last four years, on entrepreneurship in the field of the liberal professions. The goal is to have our specificities when operating as SMEs taken into consideration in all SME – entrepreneurship related legislation
A Resolution of the European Parliament acknowledging our role as essential pillars of the European model of State and regime and highlighting the importance of our high ethical standards and regulations for the quality of the services and advice we deliver and for the maintenance of high standards of Public Health and Safety.
Obviously I am fully persuaded that we must continue to focus our work on the axes we have decided back in 2016. In order to render our work more efficient, I would like to propose the setting up of a Working Group aiming at revisiting our statutes. Some of their provisions date in fact from long ago and I feel it is time for some updating that could help us obtain better results whilst consuming less time. The Group in question could begin its works on January and deliver a proposal to be adopted by our last General Assembly meeting of 2019.

I am going to conclude expressing my gratitude to all of you for your constant support, ideas and the motivation you are giving us. I feel we are a good team all of us together!

And a last world: you have seen that CEPLIS backs the European Commission’s initiative about raising awareness on the importance of voting in next years’ euro-elections. Make this initiative yours please! Speak to your members and around you. The struggle for influencing the future decisions of the EP does not begin after the elections. It begins with the elections!