Finance for the European Pillar of Social Rights (Finance4EPSR)

Project Description

Better non-financial reporting on social aspects has the potential to increase investments flows towards economic activities with positive social outcomes as recognised in the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) Action Plan. In this regard, there is a huge untapped potential of the providers of services of general interest, as there is an unbalanced assessment of the impact of the non-financial disclosure requirements on the SGIs and public services providers, especially at the local level, compared to the big enterprises from the private sector.

Through the ‘Finance for the European Pillar of Social Rights’ project financed by the European Commission, SGI Europe and the project partners HOSPEEM and HEAG will aim to develop a methodology for guiding the non-financial reporting about social objectives to foster SGIs contributions towards the implementation of the EPSR, as well as to deepen the knowledge on the practical impact of a Social Taxonomy into the business life of enterprises delivering services of general interest. The project will create a capacity building framework which aims to unlock SGIs potential to further contribute to the EPSR’s objectives using sustainable finance tools. The guiding methodology will help SGI providers identify their activities in line with sustainable finance requirements and empower them in the interactions with investors aiming for social investments in key sectors such as healthcare, transport and energy.

‘Finance for the European Pillar of Social Rights’ Background

The European Union is in a complex social and economic recovery context following the COVID-19 pandemic, heavily amplified by the increase in energy prices and high inflation. Services of general interest represent the backbone of the European social market economy, are key players in the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as in the green and digital transition and, since the beginning of the pandemic, have demonstrated their central role in the resilience of the EU social-economic system.

Many SGIs are indeed providers of services of general interest to local entities and, while operating increasingly in competition under market rules, have to maintain a wider social responsibility towards the citizens they serve. However, in most cases, SGIs lack the necessary knowledge and experience to attract sustainable finance. This is mainly caused by an unbalanced assessment of the impact of the non-financial disclosure requirements on the SGIs and public services providers, especially at the local level, compared to the big enterprises from the private sector. This adds to a general lack of awareness and guidelines dedicated to SGI providers, including tailored non-financial reporting mechanisms, operational capacity and technical expertise to implement European sustainability benchmarks, and dedicated labels for SGI and public services providers. This scenario causes SGIs’ inability to attract private and socially sustainable investments and an overall lack of social investments in critical sectors such as healthcare, housing, transport or energy.

This is why SGI Europe and the project Partners, HOSPEEM and HEAG, aim to develop a methodology for guiding the non-financial reporting about social objectives as a critical goal to foster SGIs’ contributions towards implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. In parallel, the project also aims to deepen the knowledge of the practical impact of a Social Taxonomy on the business life of enterprises delivering services of general interest. In this regard, the project focuses on a limited number of sectors essential for realising social rights, such as access to healthcare and housing, and improving the accessibility and availability of basic economic infrastructure and services such as clean electricity and water. Hospitals and the healthcare sector are critical infrastructure across the EU and have faced different challenges before the pandemic, stressing the need for regular and substantive investments. Consequently, testing the implementation of the Social Taxonomy is interesting for sectoral employers to understand and experiment with its implementation to ensure that (a) social taxonomy can be correctly applied to the benefit of all and (b) more potential investors can be identified.

Project Survey

Marta Branca at the Eurofound/ILO event on job quality for essential workers

On the occasion of the publication of the Eurofound policy brief on essential workers, HOSPEEM Secretary General Marta Branca participated in the social partner panel hosted by Eurofound and ILO, on 10 October 2023. She emphasized the importance of the developing Social Dialogue to address issues such as staff shortages, mental health and attractiveness of jobs in the healthcare sector.

European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit highlighted the importance of key workers. The presentation of the ILO and Eurofound experts pointed out the challenges and possible solutions across the sectors of essential workers. At the beginning of the year HOSPEEM participated in the interview for the Eurofound policy brief. Read more. 

The Eurofound policy brief

ILO Report World Employment and Social Outlook 2023: The value of essential work

HOSPEEM signs SGIs Network Joint Declaration for the Tripartite Social Summit of 22 March 2023

Brussels, 22 March 2023

HOSPEEM – European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association is a signatory of the the services of general interest (SGIs) Network Joint Declaration for the Tripartite Social Summit of 22 March 2023.

The SGIs Network gathers associations representing providers and employers of services of general interest (SGIs) and public services.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the energy prices crisis highlighted that SGIs are a cornerstone of the EU social model and democratic societies. They have a central role in ensuring the citizens’ quality of life, contributing to informed citizenship, supporting the development of European businesses, and boosting the EU’s growth and competitiveness.

With the green and digital transition transforming the daily lives of citizens and enterprises, the quality and access to essential services such as education, energy, healthcare, public service media, postal services, public transport and railways, as well as services provided by local and regional governments will remain instrumental to the realisation of our shared objectives. With this statement, the signatories put forward some critical messages for consolidating the EU Single Market, focusing on its green and fair dimensions.

Ensure easy and stable access to EU funds and financing

With growing national debts and budget cuts, EU funds and financing are critical for SGI providers. EU support remains vital in addressing SGI providers’ sustainability and digitalisation challenges. Investments in SGIs are essential for the European Green Deal to deliver on its strategic objectives, including decarbonisation and social justice.

State aids must evolve from “enforcement of fair competition” to “active policy tools” to channel productive investments for the benefit of competitiveness and sustainability.

The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is at the heart of the EUR 800 billion NextGenerationEU recovery plan for Europe. While we appreciate the EU’s efforts to support economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge Member States to ensure that these funds are used to strengthen public services and address the pressing challenges of climate change and digitalisation. The SGI Network calls for a quicker implementation of all investments and reforms pledged, particularly in the new frame of the recently approved RePowerEU.

Moreover, the SGI network calls for the upcoming review of the EU economic governance to cater for the need for SGI providers to guarantee the continuity of public services, to relaunch public investments and provide quality services for all citizens.

Address skills mismatches and labour shortages

The provision of SGIs is crucial to citizens’ well-being and the EU’s overall social and economic resilience. However, the ability of SGI providers to digitalise, decarbonise and fulfil their mission is threatened by significant staff and skills shortages.

Labour and skills shortages hinder SGI providers and put additional pressure on labour markets. As a growing number of enterprises depends on a shrinking number of workers, fierce competition for talent contributes to higher labour costs. In many Member States, the number of unfilled positions exceeds the vacancy levels observed over the last decade.

In the context of the EU Year of Skills, the SGI Network call on the Commission and Member States to emphasise improving the interconnection between the labour market and education and training while developing quality frameworks for skills forecast, intelligence and development. We, therefore, call on systematically improving, with the support of Social Partners, common knowledge and understanding of skills’ needs and anticipating mismatches, in views of promoting inclusive and tailor-made and lifelong learning for all. In that regards, European Social partners can play an essential role in better anticipating the skills’ needs in the future, ensuring a better match between skills’ and jobs’ needs and supporting enhanced workers employability.

Rethink the Single Market on its 30th anniversary

In 2023, the EU will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Single Market. Established on 1 January 1993, the Single Market allows goods, services, people, and capital to move around the EU freely. It has led to an unprecedented market integration between Member States’ economies while accelerating the economic development of Member States that joined the EU in the last 30 years. Considering the core importance of SGIs to the daily lives of citizens and enterprises, the Single Market and the EU social market economy should grant them a specific recognition.

Critical policy choices are needed as the twin transition reshapes our society and economy. With the Green Deal Industrial Plan (GDIP), the EU has a roadmap to preserve its competitiveness in a competitive geopolitical environment, addressing short-term challenges without sacrificing long-term prospects. Enabling the Green Deal, the GDIP will also have to deliver services of general interest and public services through increased flexibility, predictability, and simplification. For SGIs, it will be crucial to guaranteeing a level playing field for all actors across the EU, private and public, including for access to finances. Equal treatment for all enterprises must be a cornerstone of the Single Market and, ultimately, will foster cohesion across the EU.

Ensure the success of a fair green transition

The SGI Network recognises the urgent need to accelerate the energy transition to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change. SGI providers are committed to promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly services. We call on policymakers to create a conducive regulatory environment that incentivises innovation, investment, and the adoption of clean energy technologies.

To become carbon neutral by 2050, the EU requires major changes in the whole energy value chain: the goal is first to consume less energy and then consume low carbon energy, based on a long term vision. Safeguarding this goal, electricity will have a key role to play along-side with low-carbon technologies, renewable and decarbonised gases district heating systems (wherever economically feasible) as well as a new hydrogen market.

Carefully reconsidering the electricity market design will therefore be necessary as present objectives of the Electricity Internal Market are mostly different and no longer fully reflect the current challenges. Energy prices and market distortions lead to rising energy bills on SGIs, ranging from public transport to postal services. This leads to higher prices of electricity in comparison to fossil fuels, running against the goals of the European Green Deal. SGI providers believe that the newly revised market design must offer consumers stable prices of low-cost and low-carbon sources and anchor this change at the root of the needed evolutions. Every measurement taken when revising the Electricity Market Design (EMD) must address the security of supply in the energy sector so as not to harm consumers and the economy across the European Union.

Avoid dominance of digital platforms

The SGI Network raises awareness of the impact that large digital platforms have on SGI providers in terms of additional costs and limiting access to valuable data. A dominant position could lead to an increase of the profits of digital platforms at the expense of public service budget due to rising costs. In addition, limits on data access will prevent SGI providers to better understand user and customer needs, trends and adapt the services provided accordingly. As such, it is critical to ensure a level-playing field between platforms and SGIs to provide improved services as our societies become more digitalized.

The signatories:
SGI Europe
CEMR – Council of European Municipalities and Regions
CER – Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies
EFEE – European Federation of Education Employers
HOSPEEM – European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association, UITP – International Asssociation of Public Transport

Download the Joint Declaration in Pdf

*** SGI Europe also published the Joint Declaration ***

The year 2022 at a glance: HOSPEEM activity report

2022 has been a year rich in achievements and fruitful exchanges for HOSPEEM. The HOSPEEM EPSU Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention was revised. Social partners signed the updated framework, re-commiting to initiatives that can strengthen the resilience of the health workforce.

Several HOSPEEM representatives shared their expertise by actively representing members’ views. For example, the Joint HOSPEEM-EPSU Technical Seminar the Digital Health Transformation of Integrated Care in Europe in November 2022 welcomed presentations from employers in Belgium, Czech Republic and Cyprus.

HOSPEEM spoke at various EU fora, for instance, at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). HOSPEEM has also been selected for one of the two new bodies that advises the European Commission Service, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).

This report presents key information on HOSPEEM and the Social Dialogue activities carried out during 2022.

Download the 2022 report

All annual reports available here

Marta Branca speaking at the EESC Hearing on The European Care Strategy

On 7 December 2022, HOSPEEM Secretary General, Marta BRANCA delivered comprehensive remarks to a European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) public hearing on “The European Care Strategy: challenges and the way forward”.

07.12.2022 hybrid EESC hearing

“Longterm care is important to the smooth-running of the hospital sector. Different challenges await but funding and social dialogue are important everywhere” stated Marta Branca.

After the European Commission published a proposal for a European Care Strategy on 08 September 2022, the Council adopted the Care Strategy on 08 December 2022. It consists of a communication, accompanied by (1) a proposal for a Council Recommendation on long-term care as well (2) a proposal for a Council Recommendation to revise the Barcelona targets. The Council recommendation focuses on access to affordable high-quality long-term care and asks Member States to improve adequacy of social protection, increase and develop quality long term care services, ensure fair working conditions, and strengthen professional standards addressing the challenges of skills needs and occupational health and safety. Member States are recommended to communicate to the European Commission a set of measures taken or planned to implement within 18 months of adoption.

Read the full-speech (pdf)

Joint HOSPEEM – EPSU Technical Seminar on Skills and Digitalisation – 30 November 2022

Digital Health Transformation of Integrated Care in Europe

Digital and non-digital skills of healthcare professionals

Examples from EU Sectoral Social Partners

The Seminar explored how digital solutions can support the integration of health and care services and will discuss which set of existing and emerging skills should be identified and developed. EU Sectoral Social Partners presented employers’ and workers’ current and future challenges in digital transformation.

Draft agenda as of 23.11.2022

Presentations by the EU Institutions:
Digital Health European Health Data Space (EHDS)” EC DG SANTE, Martin Dorazil
Digital skills for the health and care professionals” by: EC DG REFORM, Sasa Jenko – Health System Development Department, Ministry of Social Affairs, Estonia: Katre Trofimov and TIC Salut Catalonia, Spain, Elisenda Reixach

DG Reform Factsheet – Technical support for Health Reforms

Presentations of social partners examples from BE, CZ, FI and CY:

Belgium “Digital steps towards integrated care in Belgium” Peter Raeymaekers, Zorgnet–Icuro

Czech Republic “The preparedness of health care digitalization in the Czech Republic” Jiří Horecký, UZS ČR

Finland “Professionals Needed Competencies Developing Digital Health and Social Care Services- What kind of steps do we need to take in the lifelong learning process?” Outi Ahonen, Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Cyprus “Digitization in the Cypriot healthcare system – a sectoral and a national perspective” – Marios Karaiskakis, PASIN and National Committee on Digitalisation – (Coming soon)

The seminar took place online on 30 November 2022.

EPSU also published an event page about the webinar

HOSPEEM October Newsletter is published

In this October 2022 Newsletter edition, you will read about the newly HOSPEEM-EPSU updated Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention, as the social partners are encouraging initiatives across Europe to strengthen the health workforce.

You will find also more information on:

  • EU Social Partners Cross-ectoral Work Programme 2022-2024
  • EC European Care Strategy
  • Prevention of third-party violence and harassment in the heath sector
  • Upskilling and reskilling the European healthcare workforce
  • International recruitment of health staff (UK)
  • Guidance to access health data (DK)

This newsletter also includes events and publications relevant for hospital employers:

4 October 2022: HOSPEEM Newsletter 2022 – Issue 3

The year 2021 at a glance: HOSPEEM Activity report

2021 has been a busy year ensuring that hospital and healthcare employers’ views are being heard at the highest level in the European institutions. HOSPEM spoke at various EU fora (EESC, EC, Eurofound, SGI Europe, WHO…) HOSPEEM also responded to several consultations. In 2021, HOSPEEM helped build the capacity of the hospital sector social partners disseminating across Europe the HOSPEEM-EPSU project outcomes on strengthening social dialogue.

The HOSPEEM Activity Report 2021 presents the main activities in the field of occupational safety & health, skills development for the health workforce (page 3,4,5) as well as relevant information on the structure and membership of HOSPEEM.

Download the report 2021

Social Partners in hospital and healthcare sign framework for the future of the sector


Brussels, 1st June 2022

Yesterday, the EU sectoral social partners in the hospital and healthcare sector, the European Public Services Union (EPSU) and the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association (HOSPEEM), signed the updated Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention (FoA R&R).

The original text was over a decade old; the revised text now better reflects the changes Europe’s health services have undergone in recent years.

Marta Branca, Secretary General of HOSPEEM, says: “Health staff shortages continue to be an issue for the hospital and healthcare sector across Europe. With the updated Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention, we social partners re-commit to initiatives that can strengthen the resilience of the health workforce.”

Jan Willem Goudriaan, General Secretary of EPSU, says: “The COVID-19 pandemic shows the importance of adequate workforce levels and protection from Psychosocial Risks at work. In the updated Framework of Actions, we underline that!  Forus workforce planning mechanisms must take present and future needs into account to ensure that an adequate number of staff with the requisite skills are available in the right place at the right time.

The updated FoA includes aspects related to COVID-19, work-life balance, gender equality and digitalisation, focusing on the increasing Occupational Health and Safety issues which are important for health workers. These include psycho-social risks and stress, carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxic substances (Hazardous Medicinal Products), musculoskeletal diseases and thirdparty violence.

Social partners are calling to urgently strengthen public health services in order to adequately deliver quality care, ensure equal access and make these services more resilient towards future health emergencies.

They also call on Member States and the European Commission to support social partners in  sectoral social dialogue and  collective bargaining processes, in particular in Southern and Eastern Europe, within the framework of the ongoing Social Dialogue review process of the European Commission.

The updated text stresses social partners’ commitment to strengthen the attractiveness of the sector and to support a rights-based approach for recruiting migrant workers.

It also includes references to existing initiatives for retention, e.g., an active ageing policy and addressing occupational safety and health risk factors together. The signatories also emphasise that social partners must be involved in workforce planning (worker’s needs, skills needs and skills mix) on all levels. The new framework of actions promotes diversity and gender equality in the workforce to reflect the diversity of the society it cares for.

For more information contact:  Leonie Martin, HOSPEEM or Pablo Sanchez, EPSU 

Notes to editors:

About the Framework on Actions on Recruitment and Retention

The initial Framework of Actions was adopted on 17 December 2010. Following a first implementation report in 2016, social partners have been negotiating an updated version between 2021 and 2022. The actions include supporting the recruitment and retention of workers in the hospital sector, improving work organization, developing, and implementing workforce planning mechanism, encouraging diversity and gender equality, continuous professional development for all workers in the sector, and achieving the safest possible working environment.

HOSPEEM and EPSU participate in the European Social Dialogue as the recognised European Social Partners in the Hospital and Healthcare Sector since 2006. A range of joint documents (declarations, code of conduct, framework of actions, framework agreements) have been adopted and multiple projects and activities have been successfully completed ever since.

European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association

European Federation of Public Service Unions

Press Release in .pdf

*** EPSU also have published an article ***

HOSPEEM-EPSU Framework of Actions “Recruitment and retention”

HOSPEEM and EPSU signed the updated Framework of Actions on Recruitment and Retention (FoA R&R) on 31 May 2022 (Read Press Release). The initial Framework of Actions was adopted on 17 December 2010. Following a first implementation report in 2016, social partners have been negotiating an updated version of the Framework of Actions between 2021 and 2022.

Staff recruitment and retention are key issues in hospitals and healthcare. This agreement constitutes an important basis for social partners at European and national level to develop concrete action to tackle staff shortages and qualification needs now and in the future.

The key topics of the framework of actions are:

  • supporting the recruitment and retention of workers;
  • improving work organisation;
  • developing and implementing workforce-planning mechanisms;
  • encouraging diversity and gender equality in the health workforce;
  • promoting initial training, lifelong learning and continuous professional development;
  • achieving the safest possible working environment.

Donwload the 2022 updated framework of actions: EN
Download the 2010 framework of actions: ENFRDE, ES, SV, BG, CZ, FIN, IT, PL

A first implementation report was published in 2016: EN

Several presentations were given in 2014 about the actions taken by social partners in the following countries:

Mechanisms to access the labour market: jobs for the future and generation contract (Les dispositifs d’insertion: les emplois d’avenir et le contrat de génération), Olga Ville and Sylvie Amzaleg FEHAP / HOSPEEM France, 1 October 2014
The response of NHS Employers to current retention challenges faced by NHS England, Steven Weeks, NHS Employers / HOSPEEM UK, 1 October 2014
The recent challenges for the recruitment and retention of workers in the hospital sector in Italy and the response of the Italian government, Marta Branca and Elvira Gentile, ARAN / HOSPEEM Italy, 1 October 2014
Challenges in the leadership in health and social sector, Kirsi Sillanpää, Tehy / EPSU Finland, 1 October 2014
Austrian joint contribution on follow-up to HOSPEEM-EPSU Framework of Actions, Ulrike Neuhauser, KAV / HOSPEEM Austria, Karl Preterebner and Willibald Steinkellner, GdG-KMSfB and Vida / EPSU Austria, 1 October 2014
Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for nurses and midwives in Cyprus, Zoyia Antoniou, PASYDY / EPSU Cyprus, 25 June, 2014

Further material and information provided by HOSPEEM member:


Recruitment of young people via employment programmes
Retaining staff through good employment practices
Apprenticeship and traineeship programmes
Ageing workforce
“Nurse Back to Practice” programme
Social partnership forum
(Data on trends staff numbers in the NHS can be found via the Health and Social Care Information Centre monthly statistics)

Longer careers with the job life cycle model – guide to designing an age plan

*** Read 2022 Press Release – Read 2010 Press release ***