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Brussels, 3 October 2012
Council of Employment and Social Policy Ministers, 4 October 2012, Luxembourg
The EU's Council of Employment and Social Policy Ministers will meet on 4 October in Luxembourg under the chairmanship of Ms Sotiroula Charalambous, Cyprus' Minister for Labour and Social Insurance. The European Commission will be represented by László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.
Proposal for a Directive on minimum health and safety requirements regarding exposure of workers to electromagnetic fields
The Council is due to adopt a General Approach on the proposed Directive to update and improve EU rules to protect workers from electromagnetic fields in their daily tasks (see IP/11/704). The rules are to protect workers like doctors and nurses giving patients magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI), people working with radar, welders and workers reparing power lines. Commissioner Andor will welcome the fact that a large majority of the principles and elements included in the Commission's proposal have been retained in the compromise text prepared by the Cyprus Presidency and will underline his readiness to work closely with the European Parliament with a view to the proposal being adopted as soon as possible.
Towards a job-rich recovery and giving a better chance to Europe's youth
The Council is due to adopt conclusions endorsing the April 2012 Employment Package (see IP/12/380, MEMO/12/252 and MEMO/12/256) Commission Andor will welcome these Conclusions, underlining that in the face of the current record levels of unemployment, the measures outlined in the Employment Package should be implemented swiftly through the mechanisms of the European Semester. The Council's conclusions broadly endorse and support the three-pronged approach of the Employment Package for a job-rich recovery – stepping up job creation, restoring the dynamics of the labour market and enhancing the EU governance of employment policies. The Council Conclusions will also invite Members States and the Commission to improve young people's first work experience and their participation in the labour market. The Commissioner will announce his intention to present in December a Youth Employment Package, including a proposal for a Recommendation on Youth Guarantees and a second phase consulation of social partners on a quality framework for traineeships,.
Policy debate on the Europe 2020 Strategy and the new European Governance
The Council is due to hold an important debate and endorse the contributions of the Employment Committee (EMCO) and the Social Protection Committee (SPC) on the evaluation of the second European Semester. The Council is due to endorse both Committee suggestions for moving forward. Commissioner Andor will welcome the broad direction of both opinions which could help the Employment and Social Policy Council to play its role in EU Governance and under Europe 2020. He will strongly support the emphasis both documents place on the need for balance between the roles of both the Economic and Financial Affairs Council and the Employment and Social Policy Council in their deliberations on the Commission's proposals for country specific recommendations (CSRs) (see MEMO/12/386). The Commissioner will welcome the initiative of the Cyprus Presidency to develop a roadmap for the next Semester, as earlier planning and improved coordination between Presidencies, Committees and the Commission will be essential for the success of the Semester and the needed reinforcement of the European employment and social governance.
Preventing and tackling child poverty and social exclusion and promoting children's well-being
The Council is due to adopt conclusions on "Preventing and tackling child poverty and social exclusion and promoting children's well-being". Commissioner Andor will very much welcome these conclusions as a valuable input for the planned Commission Recommendation on child poverty, due to be adopted at the beginning of 2013 as part of the broader 'Social Investment Package'. He will also mention that he is looking forward to the forthcoming Presidency's conference on child poverty and well-being that will take place in Nicosia on 18-19 October. This event is an additional timely opportunity to discuss these conclusions and the Social Protection Committee (SPC) report adopted last June and feed into the Commission Recommendation.
European Social Fund (ESF)
The Presidency will provide information on the situation of the European Social Fund (ESF) in the context of negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 and of the cohesion policy regulations. The Commissioner will outline his concerns about the lack of support in the Council of the Commission proposal for a more predictable and sufficiently robust ESF budget. He will warn Ministers about the possible negative impact of these developments on the capacity of the ESF to deliver the support that is expected in the current economic and social situation.
Implementation of the Agreements between the EU and Turkey, Montenegro, Albania and San Marino on coordination of social security systems
The Council is expected to reach political agreement on four proposals for a Decision on the EU position in the Association Councils with regard to Turkey, Albania, Montenegro and San Marino, as the EU and its Member States have undertaken obligations in Association Agreements (or a Cooperation and Customs Agreement in the case of San Marino) to implement a limited set of social security coordination rules between the Member States and the associated country concerned. Commissioner Andor will support the Presidency's text on the four proposals on the EU position in the relevant Association Councils. The decisions, once adopted by the Association Councils, will not only fulfil the commitments made in the Agreements, but will also safeguard the social security rights of EU nationals and their family members working in one of the countries concerned.
Lunch debate on Mobility of workers
During lunch, Ministers are due to discuss the topic of mobility of workers, which one of the fundamental rights in the EU and could alleviate the pressure of unemployment in countries affected by the recession while responding to the needs of labour markets where there is a high level of labour demand. It is also an important aspect of the Employment Package. Commissioner Andor will present the figures on worker mobility and the key initiatives to facilitate and promote mobility in the EU. More specifically, the transitional arrangements for Bulgarian and Romanian workers will be discussed as well as the proposal for a Directive on enforcing the rights of workers to exercise their free movement which the Commission will present shortly. The reform of EURES and the portability of pensions are also on the agenda for an informal discussion.