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MEMO/11/655

Brussels, 30 September 2011

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, 3 October 2011, Luxembourg

The Council of EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Ministers will meet on 3 October in Luxembourg under the chairmanship of Polish Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, Ms Fedak. The European Commission will be represented by László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs.

Employment and social inclusion issues at the Council will be

  • Policy debate on the role of the European Social Fund in the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy

  • Conclusions on the role of voluntary activities in social policy

  • Conclusions on managing Demographic challenges

  • The Food for Deprived programme

  • Lunch debate covering migration and free movement

Policy debate on the role of the European Social Fund in implementing the Europe 2020 strategy

Following Commission's proposal for the next EU budget post-2013 (see IP/11/799) and ahead of the adoption of the legislative proposals for future cohesion policy, including the proposal for the European Social Fund (ESF) on October 6th, the Council will hold a policy debate on the future shape of the ESF and its role in making Europe 2020 a reality on the ground. The Commission will propose four investment priorities: employment, skills, social inclusion and institutional capacity building. The next generation of ESF programmes will also focus more on results and be simpler to manage with a strong link to the EU's Europe 2020 goals.

Managing demographic challenges

Tackling demographic change is one of the priorities of the Trio of Presidencies (Poland, Denmark and Cyprus). The Council is due to adopt conclusions on how to improve co-operation between Member States on demographic issues and a better reconciliation between work and family life. This will build on existing mechanisms, such as the European Alliance for Families.

Role of voluntary activities in social policy

In the context of the 2011 European Year on Volunteering, the Council is due to adopt conclusions on the role of voluntary work in social policy, emphasising the role of volunteering in creating human and social capital and contributing to social inclusion, employment, skills development and citizenship. The conclusions are due to suggest ways to tackle obstacles to developing volunteering, including the lack of a clear legal framework, recognition of skills acquired through volunteering and funding of the volunteering sector. The Commission attaches particular importance to the recognition and promotion of cross-border activities in the EU (see IP IP/11/1043). As part of activities for the 2012 Year on Active Ageing and Solidarity between generations, the Commission will build on the achievements of the European Year on Volunteering.

The Food for Deprived programme

Commissioner Andor will raise the issue of the continuation of the Food for the Deprived programme . For the Commission, especially in a time of crisis, solidarity must remain a key element in Europe's social engagement. This is why, for the years 2012-2013, the Commission is looking at how to overcome the deadlock in the Council of Ministers and find a solution to continue the Food for the Deprived programme. The Commission considers the scheme as closely linked to the Europe 2020 headline target to promote social inclusion and the fight against poverty. In the Commission's proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework, €2.5 billion (2014-2020) is ear-marked for the Food for the Deprived programme. The Commission is currently preparing a new proposal and is working to ensure that the implementation of the new programme will be as close as possible to the existing mechanism.

Lunch debate on covering free movement of EU workers and migration from 3 countries and free movement

The Presidency has proposed to discuss the future challenges and opportunities of migration and free movement of workers in Europe of migration and mobility as the topic for the lunchtime discussion. The Presidency has put forward questions to Member States covering issues like skills shortages in the labour market, experiences of migration and mobility policies to address labour market needs.


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