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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Affairs Council

Volume 493: debated on Thursday 4 June 2009

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 8 June 2009 in Luxembourg. I will represent the UK.

The first and main item of the agenda will be preparation of the June European Council. This will include a policy debate on the employment implications of the economic crisis, messages from the 7 May employment summit and a Commission communication for the June European Council. The communication to be published the week before EPSCO will propose an update of EU actions and priorities on the impact of the global downturn on employment.

The next item will be political agreement on employment guidelines. A general approach on the employment guidelines under the Lisbon strategy was agreed at the March 2009 EPSCO. Following a European Parliament opinion, these will be for political agreement ready for formal adoption at a future Council. The next item on the agenda is political agreement on a proposal which will extend social security rights to third country nationals, including those who have never worked. The UK is not taking part in this proposal.

The Council will also seek adoption of Council conclusions on flexicurity in time of crisis. Flexicurity policies are seen as increasingly important as part of the strategy to help labour markets in the current downturn. This will be followed by Council conclusions on social services as a tool for active inclusion. The measures addressed are largely already in train and there are no direct implications for the UK. There will also be Council conclusions on active and dignified ageing. Active ageing is a Czech presidency theme, and a necessary policy in light of the demographic time bomb. Finally there will be Council conclusions on inclusion of Roma. These have been drafted in the light of the first meeting of the integrated European platform for Roma inclusion in April 2009 which discussed a set of common basic principles on Roma inclusion. The UK Government welcome all the conclusions.

The Council will also receive presidency reports on progress in negotiations on three draft directives: pregnant workers; anti-discrimination; and equal treatment between men and women engaged in a self-employed capacity.

Under any other business, there will be information from the Commission on a report by the high level group on disability presenting an update of the progress made by each MS towards ratification and implementation of the UN Convention. In addition, the Commission will report on the impact of free movement of workers in the context of EU enlargement. There will also be information from the Polish delegation giving details of an informal ministerial working group meeting which I attended in Radziejowice, Poland on 18-19 May 2009. This meeting discussed how best to face the economic crisis. There will also be information on conferences held under Czech presidency.