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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Volume 510: debated on Thursday 3 June 2010

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 7 June 2010 in Luxembourg. I shall represent the United Kingdom.

The main item of the agenda will be a policy debate on the employment and social inclusion aspects of Europe 2020, the new European agenda for the next 10 years; and in particular, the employment guidelines and social inclusion target. Her Majesty’s Government are still considering the proposals for a Europe 2020 strategy but there are some significant reservations about the implications of the proposals, including the balance of competence between member states and the European Union. On that basis I currently propose to agree to the target but to maintain a reserve on the guidelines.

The presidency will seek political agreement on a proposal for a Council regulation extending the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No [...] to nationals of third countries who are not already covered by these provisions solely on the ground of their nationality. The UK is not opted in to this regulation and I do not propose to intervene.

The presidency also will seek political agreement on a proposal for a Council decision on the position to be taken by the Community within the Association Councils established by the agreements with Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Israel. The UK is not opted in to these decisions which cover social security provisions with the six countries. We have significant concerns that the proposal goes beyond the original provisions and extends social security coverage in a way we find unacceptable. I intend to make a brief intervention at the Council which reiterates the UK concerns.

The presidency also will seek four sets of Council conclusions—on adequate pensions and social inclusion; new skills for new jobs; advancing Roma inclusion; and active ageing—and a Council resolution on a new European disability framework for adoption. I am prepared to accept these, on the basis that they are all non-binding and therefore not contentious.

There will be a progress report on the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment—anti-discrimination—between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Under any other business, there will be information from the presidency on the equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity. The Italians will raise also, as an information point, their ideas on simplifying the delivery rules of the European social fund (ESF). There also will be information on conferences held under the Spanish presidency and a presentation by the incoming Belgian presidency.