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Brussels, 1st June 2005

Employment, social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, 2-3 June 2005, Luxembourg

The Council meeting will take place on, 2-3 June in Luxembourg. The Employment and Social Affairs points will be taken on 2 June, beginning at 10h00. This part of the Council meeting will be chaired by Minister Biltgen from Luxembourg and the Commission will be represented by Commissioner Špidla. The Health and Consumer Protection points will be taken on 3 June. This meeting will be chaired by Minister Di Bartolomeo from Luxembourg and the Commission will be represented by Commissioners Kyprianou and Verheugen.

Social Affairs and Employment issues – 2 June

The Commission will present to the Council a modified proposal of the working time directive. The main modifications concern the Opt out, reference period and On-call time. (See separate MEMO/05/187)

The Ministers of the Council will hold a political debate over lunch.

Ministers will publicly debate and are expected to agree a general orientation on the Employment Guidelines as a part of the new Integrated Guidelines Package, to implement the Lisbon focus on growth and jobs. The streamlined set of Employment Guidelines follows the results of the Kok Employment Task Force and focuses on achieving full employment, improving quality and productivity at work and the strengthening of cohesion by preventing exclusion from the labour market with a focus on regions lagging behind.

Ministers will also debate the Commission's Green Paper on Economic Migration, focussing on the implications of migration on the labour market in relation to the demographic developments in the Union.

Furthermore, the Commission will also announce the forthcoming Year of Mobility of workers 2006.

The Council will also aim to reach a political agreement on implementing by way of Directive the social partners agreement on working conditions in the railway sector. This is the third agreement of the Social Partners at sectorial level on Working Time and it covers mainly the issue of rest periods.

Political agreements are expected to be reached on the amendments establishing the European Agency for Safety and Health at work as well as on the European foundation for working conditions.

The Council should approve a general orientation (awaiting the overall discussion on financial perspectives) on the Commission's proposal for a Gender Institute which should be vital in the collection of information, development of tools and promotion of dialogue on gender mainstreaming and the overall promotion of gender equality policy.

Ministers are expected to approve the conclusions on the Beijing Platform for Action which follows up on the successful UN conference earlier this year on the 10th anniversary of the Beijing platform for action on equal opportunities. The overall aim of the conclusion is strengthening the monitoring of progress of the implementation of the commitments undertaken in the context of the platform.

Health and Consumer Protection issues – 3 June

Vice President Verheugen will discuss with the Council the proposal for a regulation on medicines for children. The key objectives of the proposed regulation are to increase the development and authorisation of medicines for use in children while ensuring that children’s medicines are subject to high quality research and children are not subjected to unnecessary clinical trials. The proposal also aims to improve the information available on medicines for children.

Commissioner Kyprianou will represent the Commission for the remaining points on the agenda.

The Council is expected to reach political agreement on the proposal for a regulation on nutrition and health Claims, first presented by the Commission in July 2003. The European Parliament adopted its first reading opinion on the proposal on 26 May 2005. Ministers are expected to support with modifications article 4 of the proposal on nutrient profiles. The Council is also likely to maintain an authorisation procedure for certain health claims.

The Council is expected to reach political agreement on the proposal for a regulation on the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods, first presented by the Commission in November 2003. The main outstanding issues for Ministers concern the restrictions on the addition of vitamins and minerals and on the addition of other substances.

Ministers will hold an orientation debate in public on the Commission’s proposal for a Health and Consumer Protection Programme 2007-13. On 6 April 2005, the Commission adopted a proposal for an ambitious strategy and programme, setting out objectives for the years ahead for both Community health policy and consumer protection policy.

The Council will hold an exchange of views and adopt conclusions on obesity, nutrition and physical activity. Commissioner Kyprianou will present to Ministers the European Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health launched on 15 March and to announce a forthcoming Green Paper on nutrition, physical activity and health later this year. Ministers will adopt conclusions on HIV/AIDS which will be submitted to the European Council in June. On mental health, the Council is expected to adopt conclusions welcoming the intention of the Commission to present in summer 2005 a Green paper on mental health.

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