Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, 9-10 June 2008, Luxembourg
European Commission - MEMO/08/367 06/06/2008
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Brussels, 6 June 2008
The Employment,Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will meet in Luxembourg on 9 and 10 June. Employment and Social affairs will be discussed on 9 June under the presidency of Ms Marjeta Cotman, Slovenian Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs. The European Commission will be represented by Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. Two longstanding directives – Working Time and Temporary Agency Workers – are on the agenda for political agreement by Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs. The health points will be taken on 10 June with the Council being chaired by Ms Zofija Mazej Kukovič, Slovenian Minister for Health. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner Vassiliou.
The main points on the Employment agenda on Monday 9th June are:
1. Working Time Directive
The Slovenian Presidency has put forward a new compromise text in order to reach political agreement to amend the existing directive on Working Time (2003/88/EC). The directive has been on ice since November 2006 and many Member States are in breach of the legislation as currently interpreted by the European Court of Justice (Simap/Jaeger ruling). According to these rulings, on-call time must be counted as working time. If Member States do not come to an agreement it is the duty of the Commission to open infringement procedures. The second important issue concerns the opt-out from the 48 hour working week which has been the main stumbling block. The current proposal would significantly improve protection for workers who sign an opt-out.
2. Directive on Working Conditions for Temporary Agency Workers
8 million workers in the EU are temporary agency workers and numbers are increasing. In March 2002 the European Commission adopted a proposal to create a level playing field for temporary agency workers across the EU. The proposal seeks to combine business flexibility and workers' mobility, on the one hand, and more security for workers without thwarting the development of temporary agency work, on the other hand.
Following an agreement between social partners in the UK, the Slovenian Presidency has decided to put forward a new compromise text in order to reach political agreement on the directive. The new text would recognise the equal treatment of agency workers with permanent employees from day one, with the possibility to derogate through collective agreements and through agreements between social partners.
3. Council to adopt several sets of conclusions
The main points on the Health agenda on Tuesday 10th June are:
1. Reducing the burden of cancer
The Council is expected to hold a debate and to adopt Conclusions on cancer. The Slovenian Presidency made European cancer prevention and control policies a priority with a European Conference "The Burden of Cancer -How can it be reduced" on 7 and 8 February 2008 in Brdo, Slovenia. The Commission will provide a scientific report on the implementation of the Council Recommendation on cancer screening.
2. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
The Council is expected to hold a policy debate and to adopt conclusions on antimicrobial resistance. The starting point for these Council Conclusions is the Council Recommendation 2002/77 on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine. These actions have an impact on AMR surveillance, on monitoring of antimicrobial use and on awareness campaigns both for human and animal health.
3. Implementation of the EU Health Strategy
The Council is expected to hold a debate and adopt Council Conclusions on a cooperation mechanism between the Commission and the Council in order to implement the EU Health Strategy. The 'mechanism' is expected to be embodied by an existing Council group, the Health Working Party, whose mandate will be upgraded for this purpose.
4. Information to patients on medicinal products
The Council is expected to debate and adopt Conclusions on the Commission's Communication on " the report on current practice with regard to provision of information to patients on medicinal products" of December 2007.
5. Novel foods
The Slovenian Presidency is expected to submit a progress report on the state of play of the Council discussions regarding the Commission's proposal for "A Regulation on Novel Foods" of 15 January 2008.