Brussels, 5 December 2012
Council of Employment, Social Policy and Health Ministers, 6-7 December 2012, Brussels
The EU's Council of Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Ministers will meet to discuss Employment, Social Policy and Health on 6-7 December in Brussels under the chairmanship of Ms Sotiroula Charalambous, the Cypriot Minister for Labour and Social Insurance. The European Commission will be represented by Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights Viviane Reding and László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, and Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy.
6th December: Employment and Social Policy
Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the enforcement of Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services (JT)
The Cyprus Presidency will present a progress report to the Council on this proposal, which was presented in March 2012 (see IP/12/267, MEMO/12/199). The proposal would ensure posted workers enjoy their full social rights across Europe. The proposal would in particular set more ambitious standards to inform workers and companies about their rights and obligations; establish clear rules for cooperation between national authorities in charge of posting; provide elements to improve the implementation and monitoring of the notion of posting to avoid the use of "letter-box" companies with the aim of circumventing employment rules; define the supervisory scope and responsibilities of relevant national authorities; improve the enforcement of workers’ rights, including the introduction of joint and several liability for the construction sector for the wages of posted workers as well as the handling of complaints.
The Council is due to hold an orientation debate on several aspects of the proposal (national control measures and the introduction of a limited system of joint and several liability in subcontracting at EU level) in order to provide political guidance for the further negotiations. Commissioner Andor will urge Member States to constructively engage in agreeing on common ground under the Irish Presidency of the Council in the first half of 2013 so as to pave the way for an agreement with the European Parliament as soon as possible.
Proposal for a Regulation on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) (JT)
The Presidency will present a progress report on this proposal to the Council to take stock of the progress made so far on the technical aspects, and to address at a higher level the political issues (e.g. the continuation of the EGF, which is part of the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020-see IP/11/799). Commissioner Andor is due to underline the advantages of the continuation of the Fund, given the EGF's added value as a solidarity instrument especially in times of crisis.
Building on the experience acquired with the EGF since 2007 and its value added for the assisted workers and affected regions, the Commission has proposed to maintain the Fund during the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework and to extend its scope to additional categories of workers not eligible at present, such as the self-employed and temporary workers. Apart from the impact of changes in trade patterns as a result of globalisation, the Commission proposal would allow the EGF to also react to large-scale redundancies resulting from unforeseen crises as well as to negative effects of trade agreements on the agricultural sector through transitory support to farmers to facilitate their adaptation.
Proposal for a Regulation on the EU Programme for Social Change and Innovation (PSCI)(JT)
The Cyprus Presidency will present a report to the Council on the state of play on this proposal, which is part of the Commission's proposals for financial instruments in support of the EU , employment and social policy for 2014-2020 (see IP/11/1159 and MEMO/11/663). The PSCI integrates three existing programmes: Progress (Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity), EURES (European Employment Services) and the European Progress Microfinance Facility and extends their coverage. Commissioner Andor will underline the importance of this new Programme in promoting social innovation through the exchange of best practice, targeted mobility schemes and support to entrepreneurship activities. He will remind the Council of the importance of investing in human capital in these times of crisis and indicate the Commission's readiness to facilitate the adoption of a strong and ambitious Regulation in early 2013 under the Irish Presidency.
Proposal for a Directive on Equal Treatment (MA)
The Presidency will present a report on progress made on this proposal in discussions at technical level under the Cypriot Presidency. The proposed Directive aims to complete the current EU legislative framework by extending protection against discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation to areas outside employment, such as access to goods and services, healthcare and education (IP/08/1071, MEMO/08/461).
The Commission welcomes the work carried out under the current Presidency and looks forward to continuing working on the proposal under the Irish Presidency.
Combating violence against women (MA)
Ministers are expected to adopt Council Conclusions on combating violence against women and the support services for victims of domestic violence. The conclusions will present an overview of the persisting challenges as well as of the new policy and legislative developments in this field. They will provide policy recommendations to the Member States and the Commission to improve the fight against violence against women, with a specific emphasis on support services for women victims of violence.
The Commission believes it is important to improve protection for victims of violence against women, including by providing adequate and sustainable support services. This is why, in May 2011, the European Commission proposed a package of measures to ensure a minimum level of rights, support and protection for victims across the EU which has now been adopted by the Parliament and by the Council (IP/12/1200) and published in the Official Journal. This included a proposal for a Regulation on mutual recognition of civil law protection measures which will complete existing EU legal instruments in the field of penal law to ensure that victims of violence (such as domestic violence) can still rely on restraint or protection orders issued against the perpetrator if they travel or move to another EU country.
Policy debate on Europe 2020 governance and follow-up of the European Council Conclusions in the field of employment and social policy (JT)
Commissioner Andor will present to the Council the Annual Growth Survey (AGS), Joint Employment Report and Alert Mechanism Report, all of which were adopted on 28th November (see IP/12/1274). The AGS sets out what the Commission believes should be the overall budgetary, economic and social priorities for the coming year. It launches the European Semester, the calendar for economic policy coordination where national policies are reviewed collectively. Commissioner Andor will outline that employment and social policies are key priorities of this year's AGS. He will underline, in particular, the role of employment and social policies in pursuing a growth-friendly fiscal consolidation as well as in and in tackling the consequences of the crisis.The Commissioner will emphasise that strategies to restore the sustainability of public finances must be implemented in a way that supports both growth, employment and social fairness.
The Commissioner will also present the Youth Employment Package, which the Commission is adopting on 5 December 2012 (see IP/12/1311, MEMO/12/938) to address the dramatic situation for young people in Europe. The Commissioner will encourage the Council to adopt urgently the proposed Council Recommendation on the Youth Guarantee and urge Member States to implement such schemes in practice. Under the Youth Guarantee all young people up to 25 years of age would receive a quality offer of a job, continued education, apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. Commissioner Andor will also inform the Council that the Commission is launching a second-stage consultation of social partners on quality traineeships. The third element of the Package is an initiative to improve the quality and the supply of apprenticeships in the EU by a ‘European Alliance for Apprenticeships’. Finally, the Commissioner will inform the Council about the reform of the EURES network adopted on 26 November (see IP/12/1262, MEMO/12/896 and MEMO/12/897) and the further development of the 'Your first EURES Job' pilot targeted mobility scheme.
Subsequently, the Council is due to endorse the Employment Performance Monitor (EPM) and will hold a debate on Europe 2020 governance and European Council Conclusions in the field of employment and social policy. In his contribution to the debate, Commissioner Andor will underline the earlier and more structured dialogue that the Commission will ensure with Member States, the enhanced involvement of social partners, the multilateral surveillance approach and the need for strengthening coordination in the field of employment and social policies at EU level. In this context, Commissioner Andor will also refer to the Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine EMU adopted last week by the Commission. (IP/12/1272)
European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations: The Way Forward (JT)
The Council is due to endorse a "Council Declaration on the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012): The Way Forward". Through this Declaration the Council will also endorse the Guiding Principles for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
Commissioner Andor will thank all the Ministers and their governments for their contribution to the success of the European Year 2012. He will state that the European Year 2012 has mobilised a wide range of stakeholders across Europe to take action, and created a political momentum which was used by several Members States to launch important policy initiatives. Nevertheless, the Commissioner will encourage the Council to build on this momentum and ensure proper follow-up. The Council Declaration and particularly the Guiding Principles should serve beyond 2012 as a checklist for national authorities and other stakeholders on what needs to be done to further promote active ageing.
Supplementary pension rights (JT)
Commissioner Andor will thank the Presidency for its efforts in successfully re-launching discussions on the proposed Directive on minimum requirements for enhancing worker mobility by improving the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights. The proposal would reduce obstacles to workers' mobility through improved access and better preservation of supplementary pension rights (see IP/07/1461). The Commissioner will encourage the Ministers to maintain momentum on this dossier and allow the upcoming Irish Presidency of the Council to make further progress.
Fund for European Aid to the most deprived (JT)
The Commissioner will urge the Council to rapidly adopt the Commission's proposal for a new Fund for European Aid to the most deprived (see IP/12/1141 and MEMO/12/800), in the light of the EU's commitment as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy to reduce the number of people in or at risk of poverty by at least 20 million by 2020. The proposed Fund would plug a gap of the EU social cohesion policy by providing tailor-made support to the most vulnerable, which are left out of existing financial instruments.
Improving the gender balance in Europe’s boardrooms (MA)
On 14 November 2012 the Commission adopted a Proposal for a Directive on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures (IP/12/1205, MEMO/12/860). The proposal sets out a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board member positions in publicly-listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises.
Ministers will hold a lunch debate on the topic, which will provide the first opportunity for the Commission to present the proposal to the Council.
7th December: Health
Main agenda items for Commissioner Borg: (FV)
Council conclusions are expected to be adopted on organ donation and transplantation and on healthy ageing across the lifecycle.
Ministers will exchange views on the progress report on the legislative proposal on serious cross-border threats to health.
The Cyprus presidency will update the Ministers on the state-of-play of the proposal on the Health for Growth programme (the third multi–annual programme of EU action in the field of health for the period 2014-2020), the revised proposal on the transparency of measures regulating the pricing of medicinal products for human use and their inclusion within the scope of national health insurance systems and the proposal on food intended for infants and young children and on food for special medical purposes.
The Commission will present information to the Ministers on the state-of-play of legislative proposals on medical devices. Other information presented by the Commission will include the survey on Member States' implementation of the EU framework on salt reduction and the transposition of the Directive on patients' rights in cross-border healthcare.
The Ministers will discuss over lunch the implementation of the joint action plan on medical devices following the PIP breast implant crisis.