The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council was held on 7 November in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, represented the UK for discussions on an amended proposal for a directive concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time.
Negotiations focused around the opt-out from the 48 hour working week and the need for a solution to the problems caused by the European Court judgments SiMAP and Jaeger. The presidency sought views during the morning discussion on a draft presidency text of the directive. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the presidency and their subsequent tabling of an alternative section of text, it proved impossible to reach agreement due to the refusal of a minority of five countries to agree any text that did not set an end date for the opt-out.