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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Volume 511: debated on Thursday 10 June 2010

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council was held on 7 June 2010 in Luxembourg. I represented the United Kingdom.

The main item of the agenda was a policy debate on the employment and social inclusion aspects of Europe 2020, the new European agenda for the next ten years; and in particular, the employment guidelines and social inclusion target. The general approach on employment guidelines was agreed, but I abstained for the UK, explaining that a final Government position had not yet been reached. The poverty target and three indicators of material deprivation, jobless households and relative income were also agreed. I intervened to state that the UK was content for the poverty target to be forwarded to the June European Council but emphasised that a final view on EU2020 as a whole had not yet been taken, and tabled a minute statement to this effect.

Political agreement was reached 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.

The Council also reached 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 agreements. I intervened to state that the text of the decisions went beyond what had originally been agreed, and stressed that social security is principally a national competence rather than an EU competence.

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 were adopted.

There was 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 was information from the presidency on the equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity. The Italians also raised, as an information point, their ideas on simplifying the delivery rules of the European social fund (ESF), to be discussed fully at a conference later this month. Finally, there was information on conferences held under Spanish presidency and a presentation from the incoming Belgian presidency.