Skip to main content

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Volume 517: debated on Thursday 28 October 2010

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council was held on 21 October 2010 in Luxembourg. Andy Lebrecht, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, 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 10 years. The presidency set out the mechanics of the new EU2020 governance arrangements stating that the joint employment report should be the main vehicle for submitting messages to the spring European Council and the subsequent country-specific recommendations to the summer European Council. The UK supported the proposed governance arrangements, noting that the joint employment report should focus on robust evidence of what works. The UK outlined the key features of the spending review in this area—welfare reform and helping people into work. The UK would now consider the issue of “bottlenecks” and reform priorities in the EU context.

The Social Protection Committee Opinion on Social Protection and Social Inclusion in the Europe 2020 strategy was adopted. The presidency invited member states to comment on their own input to the social dimension of Europe 2020, particularly through national poverty targets and the national reform programmes. The Commission stressed that real consideration of the social dimension of Europe 2020 was essential if the strategy were to be a success, and urged member states to finalise their national targets. The UK explained that an approach to the national target had not yet been confirmed. The UK showed support for effective use of the open method of co-ordination and stressed that excessive new reporting burdens should be avoided.

The Council adopted the employment guidelines. The UK abstained in order to respect the UK parliamentary scrutiny position.

The Commission presented its recent initiative, Youth on the Move. This proposes to encourage worker mobility, improve education quality, training systems and support to young job seekers and entrepreneurs. The Commission also set out their intention for a new Roma communication next April. This would set out a framework for National Roma Integration, in which member states would be encouraged to develop strategies to deal with their Roma populations. On the Pensions Green Paper, the Commission stressed that the issue of demographic change would remain to be tackled even after the economic crisis had passed and that pension reform would consequently need to remain high on the agenda.

The presidency reported on conferences on poverty, child poverty, pensions and green jobs and also informed delegates about preparations for the next tripartite social summit.