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Brussels, 31 May 2006
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs will meet in Luxembourg on June 1 and 2, 2006 under the joint presidency of Ms Haubner, Federal Minister for Social Security, Ms Rauch-Kallat, Federal Minister for Health and Women, and Mr Bartenstein, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Employment. The Commission will be represented by Commissioners Špidla and Kyprianou.
- Social Affairs and Employment issues – 1 June
On the Employment and Social Policy part, the Council will be dominated by discussions on working time. Following the failure to reach an agreement on the revision of the Working Time Directive in December 2005, Ministers will try to reach a compromise, mainly on the issue of the opt-out. Member States continue to be divided over whether to maintain the possibility of opting out from the maximum 48-hour working week. Following the agreement by Member States on the "Services" Directive earlier this week, the Commission hopes that a satisfactory solution can be found.
Further, Ministers are expected to reach agreement on two important legislative proposals: the Gender Institute and the future Community Programme PROGRESS to promote solidarity and social progress in the Union. The European Parliament will then have to take a position as part of the legislative procedure. Ministers are also expected to reach partial agreement on two further proposals in the field of coordination of social security systems and to take note of progress of discussions on the Commission's proposal on improving the portability of supplementary pension schemes. The Council will also hold a debate on "sustainable development" which will be one the main points on the agenda of the European Council on 15-16 June. The Ministers' contribution will focus on social inclusion and on the importance of taking account the social dimension in the context of the Union's sustainable development strategy. Finally, Member States will adopt the Decision establishing 2007 as the European Year for Equal Opportunities. The Year, with a budget of close to 8 million €, will seek to raise the awareness of European citizens on discrimination issues and celebrate the diversity of Europe.
- Health and Consumer Protection issues – 2 June
Pandemic influenza preparedness and planning. The key health point for this Council is the lunch debate on the EU strategic stockpile for anti-virals. In response to the request of Ministers at the April Informal Health Council, the Commission has drawn up a paper setting out the practical issues to orient the debate and to enable Ministers to take a decision in principle to create, or not to create, a European strategic stockpile of anti-virals. From the Commission’s perspective this is the final opportunity to reach conclusions on the question of an EU strategic stockpile. Member States should decide whether a small strategic stockpile of antivirals for influenza should be put in place or not. The Presidency and EU Health Ministers will also be updated on the latest developments on avian influenza and pandemic influenza preparedness planning in the Community since the informal meeting of Health Ministers in Vienna.
The Council will formally adopt the proposal for a Directive on food additives other than colours and sweeteners following the first reading agreement which was reached with the European Parliament in October 2005.
Women’s Health has been a central topic of the Austrian Presidency and was discussed at the Informal Health Council on 25/26 April in Vienna. The Commission will integrate women’s health concerns in the Community’s health policy, in particular in the future framework for health action after 2007.
Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. A conference on the prevention of type II diabetes was organised by the Austrian Presidency on 15-16 February 2006 and the same issue was discussed at the Informal Health Council on 25/26 April in Vienna. The Commission takes the view that the prevention of diabetes should be seen in the context of an overall approach to tackling key health determinants, such as nutrition and physical exercise.
Common values and principles in EU-Health Systems. The Council’s conclusions on this topic build on work carried out under the UK Presidency on a statement on common values and principles. The Commission considers these conclusions very timely as they will help with the preparation of proposals on healthcare following the exclusion of healthcare from the proposed services directive.
Health Ministers will have a policy debate on the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) and will also discuss HIV/AIDS. In this regard, the Commission stresses the importance of prevention and strengthening prevention activities including awareness-raising.
Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products. The Presidency will present a progress report which invites the Council to pursue the examination of the proposal with the aim of reaching swift agreement on the proposal. Commissioner Kyprianou will replace the responsible Commissioner, Vice President Verheugen, for this point.
Review of the medical device directives. The Presidency will present a progress report which invites the Council to pursue the examination of the proposalwith the aim of reaching agreement at a forthcoming Council before the end of 2006. Commissioner Kyprianou will replace the responsible Commissioner, Vice President Verheugen, for this point.