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C/03/302

Luxembourg, 20 October 2003

13538/1/03 REV 1 (Presse 302)

2535th Council meeting - Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs- Luxembourg, 20 October 2003

2535th Council meeting

- EMPLOYMENT, SOCIAL POLICY, HEALTH AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS -

Luxembourg, 20 October 2003

President :

Mr Roberto MARONI

Minister for Labour and Social Policy

Ms Stefania PRESTIGIACOMO

Minister for Equal Opportunities

of the Italian Republic

CONTENTS (1)

PARTICIPANTS 4

ITEMS DEBATED

electromagnetic fields - public deliberation 6

UNDECLARED WORK - Council Resolution 67

immigration, integration and employment 101

opinion of the social protection committee - streamlining open coordination 113

Coordinated Strategy for adequate and sustainable pensions - Council Conclusions 125

european health card 147

coordination of social security systems 1251

DAPHNE II (2004-2008) - public deliberation 1522

combatTING trafficking in human beings, in particular women - Council Resolution 1623

Other business 1926

     INITIATIVE FOR GROWTH 1926

ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

COMPETITIVENESS

  • Co-operation in science and technology with Mexico I

  • Framework Agreement with the European Space Agency I

  • Indirect vision devices - public deliberation I

INSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

  • Staff Regulations for EU civil servants Recruitment provisions II

DEVELOPMENT POLICY

  • Centre for the Development of Enterprise Budget for 2004 II

TRADE POLICY

  • Antidumping China Coumarin II

appointments

  • Committee of the Regions II

fisheries

  • Fisheries Agreement with Mauritius III

PARTICIPANTS

The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium :

Mr Frank VANDENBROUCKEMinister for Employment and Pensions
Mr Rudy DEMOTTEMinister for Social Affairs and Public Health
Denmark :
Mr Klaus Hjort FREDERIKSENMinister for Employment
Ms Henriette KJÆRMinister for Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Germany :
Mr Gerd ANDRES

Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Labour

Ms Christel RIEMANN-HANEWINCKEL

Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

Greece :
Mr Dimitrios REPPASMinister for Labour and Social Security
Spain :
Ms Carmen DE MIGUELState Secretary for Employment
France :
Ms Nicole AMELINE

Minister attached to the Minister for Social Affairs, Labour and Solidarity, with responsibility for Gender Equality and Equal Employment

Ireland :
Mr Franck FAHEY

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Ms Mary COUGHLANMinister for Social and Family Affairs
Italy :
Mr Roberto MARONIMinister for Labour and Social Policy
Ms Stefania PRESTIGIACOMOMinister for Equal Opportunities
Luxembourg :
Mr François BILTGENMinister for Labour and Employment
Ms Marie-Josée JACOBS

Minister for the Family, Social Solidarity and Youth, Minister for the Advancement of Women

Netherlands :
Mr Aart Jan DE GEUSMinister for Social Affairs
Austria :
Ms Judith GEBETSROÏTNERDeputy Permanent Representative
Portugal :
Ms Teresa CAEIROState Secretary for Social Security
Finland :
Ms Tarja FILATOVMinister for Labour
Sweden :
Mr Hans KARLSSONMinister for Employment
United Kingdom :
Mr Gerry SUTCLIFFEParliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Competition and Consumers
* * *
Commission :
Ms Anna DIAMANTOPOULOUMember

The Governments of the Acceding States were represented as follows:

Czech Republic :

Mr Zdenek SKROMACHMinister for Labour and Social Affairs
Estonia :
Mr Marko POMERANTSMinister for Social Affairs
Cyprus :
Mr Iacovos KERAVNOSMinister for Labour and Social Insurance
Latvia :
Ms Dagnija STAKEMinister for Welfare
Lithuania :
Ms Vilija BLINKEVICIUTEMinister for Social Security and Labour
Hungary :
Ms Zsuzsanna JAKABState Secretary at the Ministry of Health
Ms Agnes CSANADIState Secretary at the Ministry of Labour
Malta:
Mr F. AGIUSParliamentary Secretary at the Department of Social Policy
Poland :
Mr Krzysztof PATERUnder-Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy, Labour and Social Policy
Slovakia :
Mr Miroslav BEBLAVYState Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family
Slovenia :
Mr Vlado DIMOVSKIMinister for Labour, Family and Social Affairs

ITEMS DEBATED

electromagnetic fields - public deliberation

The Council has reached a political agreement on the proposal for a Directive establishing minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from electromagnetic fields. The Council will adopt its common position at one of its forthcoming sessions after finalisation of the text by the jurist-linguists.

The proposed Directive will mark an important step towards better protection of workers against this kind of risk of which there is ever greater public awareness

It is recalled that the electromagnetic fields were originally included in a single proposal covering four types of physical agents. However, due to the complexity of the different agents, it was later decided to examine each one separately. Directives on vibration and noise have already been adopted in recent years.

The general structure of the new text, for instance the articles on worker information and training, consultation and participation, follows the model of the previous Directives on vibration and noise.

The proposed Directive introduces exposure limit values and action values based on the recommendations drawn up by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

As, for the moment, there is insufficient scientific evidence on possible long-term effects, the proposed Directive is limited to short-term effects due to exposure to electromagnetic fields.

UNDECLARED WORK - Council Resolution

The Council adopted the following Resolution:

"Whereas the European Council at successive meetings - Luxembourg, Lisbon, Stockholm, Nice, Barcelona, Brussels - reiterated that the strategy for more and better jobs must remain the top priority for the European Union and its Member States;

Whereas the Commission Communication on Undeclared Work (2) indicated that a comprehensive targeted strategy, involving a policy mix based on prevention, is essential if combating undeclared work is to be effective, and invited Member States to regard combating undeclared work as part of the overall Employment Strategy;

Whereas the Council and the representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council of 22 April 1999 adopted Resolution 1999/C 125/01 on a Code of Conduct for improved cooperation between authorities of the Member States concerning the combating of transnational social security benefit and contribution fraud and undeclared work, and concerning the transnational hiring-out of workers(3);

Whereas the Council Decision on Guidelines for the Employment Policies of the Member States adopted a specific guideline on transforming undeclared work into regular employment;

Whereas the Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs of the European Union, at their informal meeting in Varese on 11 July 2003, recalled that transforming undeclared work into regular employment would contribute to achieving full employment, improving quality and productivity at work, strengthening social cohesion and inclusion, eliminating poverty traps and avoiding market distortions;

Whereas, given the heterogeneous nature of undeclared work, it is difficult to estimate the scale of the problem although studies estimate the size of the informal economy on average at between 7% and 16% of EU GDP;

Whereas undeclared work has strong implications for workers, for business, for consumers, for gender equality and for social protection systems;

Whereas the Commission, in its Communication of 3 June 2003 (4) on Immigration, Integration and Employment, stated that, as sectors of undeclared work and illegal immigration feed on one another, there is a clear link between general policies to combat both undeclared work and illegal immigration;

Whereas transforming undeclared work into regular employment as part of the effective implementation of the Employment Guidelines requires active participation by the social partners, at all stages, from designing policies to their implementation;

Whereas the social partners in their multi-annual work programme agreed to hold a seminar on undeclared work in 2005:

1. RECALLS:

    1.1 Employment Guideline No 9 on undeclared work, as adopted on 22 July 2003;

    "Member States should develop and implement broad actions and measures to eliminate undeclared work, which combine simplification of the business environment ,removing disincentives and providing appropriate incentives in the tax and benefits system, improved law enforcement and the application of sanctions. They should undertake the necessary efforts at national and EU level to measure the extent of the problem and progress achieved at national level."

    1.2 the 1998 Commission Communication on undeclared work, in which it is defined as "any paid activities that are lawful as regards their nature but not declared to the public authorities, taking into account differences in the regulatory system between Member States".

2. CALLS ON MEMBER STATES:

    2.1 To consider this Resolution as a reference framework within which Member States can develop and implement policies in the context of the European Employment Strategy while respecting national circumstances and priorities;

    2.2. To take account of the actions outlined in this Resolution in reporting on the principal measures taken to implement their employment policies in the light of the specific guideline on undeclared work in their future National Action Plans;

    2.3. To work together to examine the common features of undeclared work across the Member States which might best be addressed by a common approach in the framework of the European Employment Strategy;

  • PREVENTIVE ACTIONS AND SANCTIONS AIMED AT ELIMINATING UNDECLARED WORK:

      2.4 To develop a comprehensive approach in keeping with the European employment strategy based on preventive actions, encouraging all employers and employees to operate within the formal economy and in the context of regular employment; these measures should respect the sustainability of public finance and social protection systems, and may include:

           the creation of a legal and administrative environment which is favourable to the declaration of economic activity and employment, through simplifying procedures and by reducing the costs and constraints which limit the creation and development of businesses, in particular start-ups and small undertakings;

          strengthening incentives and removing disincentives to declare work on both the demand and the supply sides:

        - reviewing and, where appropriate, reforming tax and benefit systems and their interaction to reduce high marginal effective tax rates and, where appropriate, the tax burden on low-paid workers,

          - setting up suitable employment policies vis-à-vis beneficiaries of social-protection measures which will help them to participate in the regular labour market, and

          - reducing the risk of unemployment and poverty traps by eliminating undesirable interactions between tax and benefits systems;

            

        2.5 To strengthen surveillance, where appropriate with the active support of the social partners, and the application of appropriate sanctions, in particular in respect of those who organise or benefit from clandestine labour, whilst ensuring appropriate protection for the victims of

      undeclared work, through cooperation between the relevant authorities (inter alia tax offices, labour inspectorates, police), according to national practice;

      2.6 To strengthen, in the context of an improved law-enforcement capability and having regard to European and national legislation protecting the rights of the individual, transnational cooperation between competent bodies in different Member States, as far as transnational economic activities are concerned, in particular cooperation between the competent bodies designated by the Member States with a view to combating social security fraud and undeclared work, in accordance with Resolution 1999/C 125/01 of the Council and of the representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council;

      2.7 To raise social awareness in order to enhance the efficacy of this mix of measures, through providing information to the public about the negative implications of undeclared work for social security and the consequences of undeclared work for solidarity and fairness;

    • NECESSARY EFFORTS TO MEASURE THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM AND PROGRESS ACHIEVED:

      2.8 To improve knowledge about the extent of undeclared work by estimating the scope of the informal economy and undeclared work at national level, on the basis of such data as is available to Social Security Institutions, Tax Authorities, Ministries or National Statistical Offices;

      2.9 To contribute to the development, as appropriate, of the measurement of undeclared work at EU level in order to gauge progress in achieving the objective of transforming undeclared work into regular employment;

      2.10 To seek cooperation between National Statistical Offices on methodology and foster the exchange of expertise and know-how on this issue.

    3. INVITES THE SOCIAL PARTNERS:

    at European level:

      3.1 To consistently address the issue of undeclared work in the context of their jointly agreed multi-annual work programme;

      3.2 To further deal with undeclared work at sectoral level in the context of the sectoral social dialogue committees;

    at national level:

      3.3 To promote the declaration of economic activity and employment and combat the incidence of undeclared work through awareness-raising and other actions such as, where appropriate, collective bargaining undertaken in accordance with national traditions and practice, in ways which contribute inter alia to the simplification of the business environment, particularly as far as small and medium-sized enterprises are concerned.

      4. INVITES THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION:

      4.1 To highlight developments on the basis of the experience of Member States in the context of the European Employment Strategy, including through the organisation of peer reviews;

      4.2 To assess methodological improvements in the description of the problem and monitor progress taking into account recent research on the subject."

    immigration, integration and employment

    The Council held a policy debate on the Commission's Communication on Immigration, Integration and Employment (June 2003). This Communication reviews integration policies nationally and at EU level and looks at the role of immigration in the context of ageing populations, while suggesting ways of promoting the integration of immigrants.

    Prior to the debate, the Council heard a presentation of the Employment and Social Protection Committees' opinions by the Chairmen of these Committees.

    The following key issues emerged from the Council's debate which was held on the basis of a questionnaire presented by the Presidency:

    €? All delegations welcomed the Commission's communication as a good basis for future work and stressed that any initiatives should be taken in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy and the European Employment strategy;

    €? A number of delegations pointed to the limited role of immigration from third countries in addressing the problem of labour shortages resulting from population ageing. They stressed the importance of exploiting the full resources of the internal labour market, including the potential of the future Member States;

    €? A large majority of delegations were in favour of drawing up general principles for the integration of legal immigrants into the labour market at EU level, while allowing Member States to respond to their specific labour market situations;

    €? Specific measures should be taken to allow for a better integration of legal immigrants on the labour market in accordance with the principle of non-discrimination, in particular as regards better access to education (notably linguistic skills) and training, taking into account the situation of both new immigrants and second and third generation immigrants;

    €? A number of delegations were in favour of EPSCO developing a balanced approach on this issue in liaison with the JHA (Justice and Home Affairs) Council.

    On the basis of the discussion, the Council instructed the Committee of Permanent Representatives to prepare a set of conclusions with a view to these being submitted to the Council at its December meeting.

    opinion of the social protection committee - streamlining open coordination

    The Council endorsed the Social Protection Committee's opinion on the Commission's Communication "Strengthening the social dimension of the Lisbon strategy: streamlining open coordination in the field of social protection", which was presented by Mr. Langejan, chairman of the Committee. The Social Protection Committee adopted its opinion at its informal meeting in Bologna on 19 September 2003.

    In the Communication, the Commission proposes that future work on social protection should be oriented in such a way as to create good interaction with the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines and the European Employment Strategy, and to strengthen the synergies between the different strands of work on social protection. The new streamlined process would therefore be based on a three-year cycle for reviewing objectives and delivering strategic reports, starting from 2006, in conjunction with the Employment and Economic Policy cycles.

    The Social Protection Committee indicates that it can agree to the Commission£s proposal to move, within the streamlined framwork, to reporting on social inclusion, pesions and the other policy fields every three years, with light updates, reflecting where necessary policy developments taking place in the Member States in the years between.

    In its opinion, the Committee, stresses, however that the proposal to create a single reporting structure to cover the various policy fields in an integrated way, as proposed by the Commission, should only be undertaken provided certain key concerns can be met. In particular, the SPC underlines the importance of maintaining the distinct public identity that has been created for the different processes for social inclusion and pensions. In this context, National Action Plans for Inclusion and National Strategy Reports on Pensions should continue as specific components of a single framework.

    In line with the central objective of strengthening the social dimension of the Lisbon strategy, the Social Protection Committee proposes that a short, high-level paper setting out coherent and integrated policy messages reflecting key issues within the current work on social protection should be submitted to the Spring 2004 European Council.

    Coordinated Strategy for adequate and sustainable pensions - Council Conclusions

    The Council adopted the following Conclusions:

    "RECALLING THAT:

      The European Council, in accordance with the integrated socio-economic strategy defined in Lisbon in March 2000 and in response to the first Joint Report by the Commission and the Council on Adequate and Sustainable Pensions, stressed the need for maintaining the momentum for cooperation in this area through continued application of the open method of coordination and called for further reforms focusing in particular on increasing employment rates for older workers;

      The need to accelerate the reform of pensions systems with the aim of ensuring that they are both financially sustainable and meet their social objectives, also through a gradual increase by 2010 of about 5 years in the effective average age at which people cease work in the European Union, was especially underlined by the Barcelona European Council;

    3. The Joint Report by the Commission and the Council on "increasing labour participation and promoting active ageing" (March 2002) made a strong plea for a preventive and lifecycle approach in the framework of a comprehensive and integrated strategy to tackle the challenge of ageing populations and looked at all factors enabling people to enter the labour market and workers to remain longer at work;

      4. The Joint Report by the Commission and the Council on Adequate and Sustainable Pensions, having examined the various policies implemented by the Member States, underlined how balanced progress in addressing both social and financial concerns is the key to ensuring the political acceptability of pension reforms and invited Member States to maintain the impetus of the reform process and to implement credible and effective strategies; raising the effective retirement age and hence the employment rate for older workers represents a powerful tool for addressing both concerns;

      5.  The future adequacy of pensions in some Member States also increasingly depends on the ability to earn sufficient supplementary pension rights, but this is made difficult for people who change jobs or interrupt their careers by conditions for the acquisition, preservation and transfer of occupational pension rights which may also represent major obstacles to the mobility of workers; the Commission has addressed a consultation document on this matter to the social partners;

      6. The Commission Communication “Strengthening the social dimension of the Lisbon strategy : streamlining open coordination in the field of social protection” proposed that the open method of coordination for pensions should be pursued after 2006 within a streamlined framework, on the basis of an evaluation of work undertaken in the different processes in the social protection domain, including that of pensions;

      7. The Opinion of the Social Protection Committee on streamlining strongly endorsed the objective of strengthening the social dimension of the Lisbon Strategy and stressed the need for continued public visibility of the different elements of the work developed to date on social protection policies, including on pensions; the Social Protection Committee has also invited the Commission to indicate how the mutual learning aspect of the open method of coordination can be reinforced in the area of pensions;

      8. Ways of improving and strengthening cooperation on pensions, based on the open method of coordination, were discussed during the Informal meeting of Employment and Social Policy Ministers in Varese on 11 July 2003;

      THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

      1. UNDERLINES that the ageing of the population concerns all current Member States and acceding countries and that it is useful to promote a comprehensive and integrated approach to ensure adequate and sustainable pension provision in the future; it is also essential to develop policy responses to encourage present and future generations to remain active as they grow older.

      2. CONFIRMS that the setting up of adequate, sustainable and modern pension systems falls within the competence of national policies, but that this process can be supported by strengthened cooperation at European Union level based on the open method of coordination.

      3. REITERATES the particular importance of the objective of extending working life, in line with the Barcelona target, both as a contribution to the sustainability and adequacy of pension systems and as an integral aspect of the goal of increasing overall and specific employment rates in line with the Lisbon and Stockholm targets.

      4. UNDERLINES the importance for the Council (EPSCO) of taking a more active role in promoting coordination between employment and social policies, as part of the overall effort to achieve adequacy, financial sustainability and modernisation of pensions systems.

      5. UNDERLINES that the Social Protection Committee, where appropriate in cooperation with the Employment Committee and the Economic Policy Committee, should provide substantial support to the Council (EPSCO), in particular by carrying out specific studies focusing on common challenges for pension systems.

      6. WELCOMES the Commission's undertaking, in view of the 2004 Spring European Council and, if appropriate, the Tripartite Social Summit, to present a report on progress towards the Barcelona objective of raising the effective average age at which people stop working.

      7. UNDERLINES how essential it is to coordinate social protection, economic and employment policies and to continue, in the framework of the reform process, to focus a high level of attention on ensuring adequacy, alongside the financial sustainability and modernisation of systems.

      8. RECOGNISES the need also to modernise occupational pension schemes and notes that the Social Partners have been invited, on the basis of the Commission's consultation document under Article 138 of the Treaty on the portability of occupational pensions, to consider an approach to reducing obstacles to mobility."

    european health card

    Pending the European Parliament's opinion in first reading, the Council agreed on a provisional general approach on the proposal for a Regulation amending the Regulation 1408/71 on coordination of social security schemes and aimed at facilitating the introduction of a European Health Insurance Card.

    It is recalled that when it endorsed the Action Plan on Skills and Mobility, the Barcelona European Council decided to create a European Health Card to replace, by a single personalised card, all the forms currently used for health treatment in another Member State while on a temporary stay. The European Council invited the Commission to submit a proposal before the 2003 Spring European Council. On 20 March 2003, the Brussels European Council requested that "the necessary decisions be taken to allow an introduction of the European Health Card before Summer 2004."

    The new Regulation will eliminate the current procedures based on different forms, replacing them with a single, personalised card. It will facilitate temporary stays abroad, initially holidays, the E111 form being the first to be replaced; it will be extended later to employees posted to another country (E128), international road transport (E110), study (E128) and job seeking (E119).

    Regulation 1408/71 currently provides for access to different types of health care during a temporary stay in a Member State other than the competent State or the State of residence, depending on the category to which the insured persons belong, making a distinction between "immediately necessary care" and "necessary care".

    For greater protection for insured persons, the draft new Regulation brings into line the rights of all insured persons in respect of access to benefits in kind during a temporary stay in a Member State other than the State in which he is insured or resident. On this basis, all insured persons will be entitled to the benefits in kind which become medically necessary during their stay on the territory of another Member State, taking into account the nature of the benefits and the expected length of the stay. Formalities for such persons are also simplified by doing away with the obligation to contact the Social Security institution of the place of stay before seeing a care provider, thus allowing them direct access to care providers.

    The text of the draft Regulation agreed on by the Council introduces only a few changes to the initial Commission's proposal in order to clarify certain points. In particular, it provides that the date of entry into force of the Regulation is set at 1 June 2004, i.e. the same date as the introduction of the European Health Card itself, (except in the case where publication of the Regulation would be at a later date); direct access to care providers is to be guaranteed by 1 July 2004.

    coordination of social security systems

    The Council reached a general approach on the pre-retirement and family benefits chapters of the proposal for a Regulation aiming at replacing the current social security coordination system. The Council instructed the Committee of Permanent Representatives to progress rapidly on this file with a view to enabling it to reach overall agreement at its December meeting.

    Due to a specific need of Luxembourg to mitigate the consequences of the current draft of Chapter 6 (unemployment benefits), agreement on this chapter had to be delayed until December.

    It is recalled that due to the complexity and the urgency of this file, it was decided to reach agreement in Council on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Partial agreements have already been reached under the Spanish, Danish and Greek Presidencies. Final approval will be subject to agreement on the text as a whole, pending which agreements on the different chapters are considered provisional.

    The proposal is aimed at replacing and simplifying the Community legislation contained in Regulation 1408/71/EEC. The main objective is to remove obstacles to the free movement of persons within the Community that could derive from the co-existence of different national social security systems.

    DAPHNE II (2004-2008) - public deliberation

    The Council reached political agreement on the proposal for a Decision establishing a second phase of the DAPHNE II programme (2004-2008). The Council will formally adopt its common position at one of its forthcoming sessions following finalisation of the text.

    This programme is aimed at preventing and combating violence against children, young people and women and at protecting victims and groups at-risk.

    All delegations supported the continuation after 2003 of this programme, which has been generally recognised as a successful tool for combating violence and agreed on a solution for extending the programme beyond the current financial perspectives, which expire in 2006.

    As regards the budget, all delegations agreed to a budget of € 50 million for 5 years, of which € 29 million is for the period until 31 December 2006.

    The structure and scope of the new proposal is similar to the DAPHNE I programme, but it builds on the experience gained during the implementation of the original programme and provides for an increase in budget.

    The DAPHNE II programme will contribute to the general objective of providing citizens with a high level of protection against violence, including the protection of their physical and mental health, within the framework of an area of freedom, security and justice. It is intended to prevent and combat all forms of violence against children, young people and women. By so doing, the programme will contribute generally to health and social well being.

    combatTING trafficking in human beings, in particular women - Council Resolution

    The Council adopted the following Resolution:

    " THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION:

    RECALLING

    • that according to Article 5 (3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union trafficking in human beings is prohibited;

     the Hague Ministerial Declaration of 26 April 1997 on European Guidelines for effective measures to prevent and Combat Trafficking in Women for the purpose of sexual exploitation;

       that the Tampere European Council in October 1999 called for action against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children;

      • Council of Europe Recommendation 11 (2000) on trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation and Recommendation 1545 (2002) concerning campaigns against trafficking in women;

       the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, especially Article 6, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, especially Articles 34 and 35;

      • in particular that the Palermo Protocol (2002) to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, develops a comprehensive approach specifically addressing trafficking in human beings and covers criminalisation, protection and assistance to victims as well as prevention of this phenomenon;

      • the conclusions of the Syracuse Conference of December 2002 aiming to raise awareness of the issue of trafficking, particularly with regard to women, and of the need to widen and intensify activities in the Member States;

       that in this context, the Council (JHA) meeting with the candidate countries on 28 September 2001 agreed on 12 measures to combat trafficking, among them active operational cooperation, organisation of information campaigns and providing assistance to victims;

       the Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA of 19 July 2002 on combating trafficking in human beings;

      • that the Brussels Declaration of September 2002 aims at further developing European and international cooperation, concrete measures, standards, best practices and mechanisms to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings and that the Council Conclusions of 8 May 2003 agree to examine appropriate proposals made to implement specific items contained in the Declaration;

      • that the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in 2002, issued Recommended Guidelines and Principles on Human Rights and Human Trafficking stressing that the human rights of trafficked persons should be at the centre of all efforts to prevent and combat trafficking and to protect, assist and provide redress to victims, where appropriate;

      • that action within the European Union is being developed taking a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach towards preventing and combating these phenomena;

      • that in terms of financial support, Community programmes are an important tool with a view to strengthening policies, practices and cooperation in the EU and between EU Member States and candidate countries in the fight against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children;

       in particular that the Structural Funds (ESF and ERDF) can financially support actions to provide assistance to victims, as well as undertaking prevention and facilitating the social and economic integration of victims of human trafficking.

      RECOGNISING THAT:

       the afore-mentioned UN instruments form a basis for enhanced global cooperation which is also reflected in developments regarding the European Union's relations with countries outside the Union;

       trafficking in human beings as defined by European Union law is not only a crime aiming at the sexual or labour exploitation of persons, in particular at the sexual exploitation and domestic slavery of women and children, but also shows disregard for the human rights of the victims;

       a variety of measures are required to tackle this present form of human slavery and programmes are also required for the purposes of the prevention of trafficking, the rehabilitation and the social integration of victims, alongside efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators and put a stop to further victimisation;

       eradication of the root causes of trafficking including, but not limited to, gender inequalities as well as unemployment, poverty and all forms of exploitation, should be at the forefront of long-term efforts to fight trafficking in women.

    CALLS ON MEMBER STATES TO:

    • ratify and fully implement all international conventions and instruments against trafficking in human beings, in particular the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime;

    • take into account the Hague Declaration of 26 April 1997, which invites Member States to provide or explore the possibilities for the appointment of National Rapporteurs on Trafficking in women;

     continue their full commitment to pursuing at national, European and international level their activities against trafficking in human beings, in particular women, wherever possible in cooperation with, and where appropriate by providing support to NGOs;

    • underline their commitment in respect of concrete measures, such as campaigns, aimed at increasing awareness and to intensify cross-border and international cooperation in the fields of prevention, victim protection and assistance, with a view to achieving tangible results in the fight against trafficking in human beings, especially women, building on good practices and networks at the appropriate levels;

     support and protect victims in accordance with national law in order to make it possible for them to return safely to their countries of origin or to receive adequate protection in their host countries, in the context of measures supported through the Structural Funds and Community Programmes.

      INVITES THE COMMISSION AND THE MEMBER STATES TO:

       use the financial resources of the Community Initiative EQUAL to promote, in accordance with national law, the social and vocational integration of its beneficiaries;

      • promote measures to set up a monitoring system on trafficking in human beings in order to provide updated data through the continuous and regular collection of information from the competent National Authorities such as National Bureaux and National Rapporteurs;

       ensure that all actions and initiatives to prevent the trafficking of human beings, especially women and children, and to protect the victims, have a gender sensitive perspective, that they are consistent with internationally recognised principles of non-discrimination and that they take into account the respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the victims in accordance with Community and national law."

    Other business

    • INITIATIVE FOR GROWTH

    Following a request from the Belgian delegation, the Council considered its future work with regard to the "Initiative for Growth".

    Following the discussion, the Council decided to further examine this question at its meeting on 1 December with a view of submitting a contribution to the European Council (12/13 December). Furthermore, the Italian Presidency indicated that an extraordinary Social Summit would be convened before the meeting of the European Council.

    ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

    COMPETITIVENESS

    Co-operation in science and technology with Mexico

    (doc. 12945/03 + doc. 12946/03))

    The Council adopted a Decision approving the signature of an Agreement for scientific and technological co-operation with Mexico. The Agreement will be concluded for an initial period of five years.

    Framework Agreement with the European Space Agency

    (doc. 12858/03)

    The Council adopted a Decision on the signing of a framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA).

    This framework Agreement is aimed at developing an overall European Space Policy notably by securing Europe's independent and cost-effective access to space. The establishment of this Agreement provides a common basis and appropriate operational arrangements for a mutually beneficial cooperation between the EC and the ESA .

    Indirect vision devices - public deliberation

    (doc. 10808/03)

    The Council approved the amendment adopted by the European Parliament in second reading on the proposal for a Directive on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the type-approval of mirrors and supplementary systems for indirect vision and of vehicles equipped with these devices.

    Following the Council's approval of the amendment of the European Parliament, the Directive will be deemed to have been adopted in the form of the common position thus amended, in accordance with Article 251(3) of the EC Treaty.

    INSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

    Staff Regulations for EU civil servants Recruitment provisions

    (doc. 12189/03)

    The Council adopted new provisions, under Regulation 3947/92 on the Staff Regulations for European Union civil servants, on the operation of the Common Joint Committee that is consulted on draft notices of open competitions organised by the European Personnel Selection Office for the recruitment of EU officials.

    DEVELOPMENT POLICY

    Centre for the Development of Enterprise Budget for 2004

    (doc. 2153/03)

    The Council approved a draft Decision for adoption of the 2004 budget for the Centre for the Development of Enterprise established under the Partnership Agreement between the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) and the European Community. The text will be forwarded for adoption to the ACPEC Committee of Ambassadors.

    TRADE POLICY

    Antidumping China Coumarin

    (doc. 12808/03)

    The Council adopted a Regulation amending antidumping measures imposed under Regulation 769/2002 on imports of coumarin originating in the People's Republic of China.

    appointments

    Committee of the Regions

    The Council adopted three Decisions appointing:

    Ms Martina MICHELS, Chairwoman of the European and Federal Affairs Committee of the Berlin House of Representatives, is hereby appointed an alternate member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Ms G. LÖTZSCH for the remainder of her term of office, which ends on 25 January 2006 (doc. 12869/03).

    Ms H.M.C. DWARSHUIS, gedeputeerde van de provincie Zuid-Holland, is hereby appointed a member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Mr H.F.M. EVERS for the remainder of his term of office, which ends on 25 January 2006 (doc. 13488/03).

    Ms R. KRUISINGA, gedeputeerde van de provincie Noord-Holland, is hereby appointed a member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Mr L.E. VAN DER SAR for the remainder of his term of office, which ends on 25 January 2006 (doc. 13490/03).

    fisheries

    Fisheries Agreement with Mauritius

    (doc. 12939/03)

    The Council adopted a Regulation on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Government of Mauritius extending the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Agreement on fishing in Mauritian waters for the period 3 December 2002 to 2 December 2003.

    On the basis of this Regulation, the fishing opportunities fixed in the Protocol will be allocated among the Member States as follows:

     Tuna seiners: France 20, Spain 20, Italy 2, United Kingdom 1;

     Surface longliners: Spain 19, France 13, Portugal 8;

     Vessels fishing by line: France 25 grt per month, based on an annual average.

    The Regulation provides that if licence applications from these Member States do not cover all the fishing opportunities fixed by the Protocol, the Commission may take into consideration licence applications from any other Member State.

    ________________________

    (1) ?Where declarations, conclusions or resolutions have been formally adopted by the Council, this is indicated in the heading for the item concerned and the text is placed between quotation marks.?The documents whose references are given in the text are available on the Council's Internet site HYPERLINK "http://register.consilium.europa.eu/scripts/utfregisterDir/WebDriver.exe?MIval=advanced&MIlang=EN&fc=REGAISEN&srm=5&ssf=&mt=128&md=100"http://consilium.europa.eu.?Acts adopted with statements for the Council minutes which may be released to the public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements are available on the above mentioned Council Internet site or may be obtained from the Press Office.

    (2) COM (1998) 219

    (3) OJ C 125 of 6 May 1999, p.1.

    (4) COM(2003) 336 of 3 June 2003.


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