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Brussels, 29 May 2007

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, Brussels, 30-31 May 2007

The Council meeting will take place in Brussels on 30 and 31 May. The Employment and Social Affairs points will be taken on 30 May under the Presidency of Mr Franz Müntefering, Vice-Chancellor and Federal minister for Labour and Social Affairs (morning session) and Ms Ursula von der Leyen, Federal minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (afternoon session). Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, will represent the Commission. The Health and Consumer Protection points will be taken on 31 May. Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health, will represent the Commission.

Employment and Social Affairs

Good work

"Gute Arbeit", or quality in work, will be the main theme for the morning session. This has been one of the leading themes of the outgoing German Presidency. To contribute towards better improved standards at the workplace in the EU, the Council is expected to adopt a Resolution on the Commission's recently adopted new Community strategy on health and safety 2007-2012. The previous strategy (2002-2006) has shown results: fatal accidents were reduced by 17% and accidents resulting in absence from work for three days or more by 20%. Apart from the human aspects, occupational illness and accidents at work represent enormous economic costs for the European economy.

The Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee will provide a joint opinion on Active ageing, to be endorsed by the Council.

To boost workers' mobility, Ministers are expected to reach agreement on a series of legislative measures on the coordination of social security systems which will facilitate mobility for workers. They concern especially the reimbursement of health costs across borders. They will also discuss the proposal to improve the portability of supplementary pension rights.

Alliance for families

The related themes of gender equality and family-friendly policies are set to dominate the afternoon session. In particular, ministers will endorse the establishment of the so-called "European Alliance for families" - an initiative aimed at promoting and facilitating the exchange of experience and know-how between Member States on the best ways to support families through policy and other measures.

On the issue of gender equality, the Council will review Member States' progress on implementing the Beijing platform for action and will fix indicators on women and education and training.
Finally, Commissioner Špidla will present two important documents to the Council: the newly-adopted Commission Communication on promoting solidarity between the generations (COM(2007)244) and the Framework agreement reached last April by the Social Partners on harassment and violence at work.


The Food Improvement Agents package:
On 28 July 2006 the Commission adopted a legislative package of proposals on food improvement agents. This package of proposals refers to food additives, food enzymes and flavourings. It contributes to the Commission’s simplification programme and also provides for harmonisation not only in their respective fields but also promotes consistency between the three related areas. An additional fourth proposal within the package will establish a single common authorisation procedure for the evaluation and approval of these substances. On three of them, the Council is asked to define a general approach. On flavourings however, discussions are less advanced and there is only a state of play.

Health promotion by means of nutrition and physical activity:
The Council is expected to adopt the draft Conclusions that were prepared on the basis of a conference organised in February in Badenweiler by the Presidency. The Commission will present its work in the area, notably the European Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, and its White Paper on Nutrition due to be adopted on 30 May.

The Council is expected to adopt the draft Council Conclusions on HIV/Aids that were agreed by COREPER on 16 May.

Injury Prevention and safety promotion:
The adoption of the Council Recommendation is an important step forward in the process of injury prevention and safety promotion.

Smoke-free environments:

This is the first presentation of the Green Paper "Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level" to Health Ministers as there was no EPSCO Council since the adoption end of January. A presentation of national policies in this area is expected and a lively exchange of views. The Commission's consultation deadline has been extended to 30 June and most of the Member States are still due to send their responses.

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