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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 3 March 2011

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 7 March 2011 in Brussels. I will represent the United Kingdom on all agenda items.

There will be two policy debates at this meeting. The first discussion will focus on the EPSCO contribution to the European Council on issues relating to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, the European semester and the annual growth survey. The presidency will present for adoption the first joint employment report under the new European semester process together with Council conclusions that draw on the main messages from the report and the employment guidelines. The UK will stress the importance that employment policies have been given within the context of the annual growth survey and in particular the emphasis on activation policies for the unemployed and inactive. The Council will also adopt the opinion of the Social Protection Committee on the flagship initiative and its report on the assessment of the social dimension of Europe 2020. Finally the presidency will present information on the preparations for the tripartite social summit, due to take place before the spring European Council.

The second discussion will be on the pensions Green Paper. The Commission will present a progress note on the analysis of the Green Paper responses. The UK will emphasise the importance of this issue but highlight the need to avoid imposition of insolvency requirements for pensions, particularly on grounds of costs and regulatory burden.

The Commission will present its annual report on “progress on equality between women and men during 2010”. The report acknowledges areas where progress has been made, both at national and European level.

Ministers will consider a number of other Council conclusions. These cover a European framework for social and territorial cohesion, the further development of an electronic exchange system facilitating the administrative co-operation in the framework of the posting of workers directive, and the European pact for gender equality (2011-2020).

Under any other business, the presidency will report on the informal meeting of the Ministers for employment, and will also provide an update on two legislative areas, “seasonal workers” and “intra-corporate transferees”. The Employment Committee and Social Protection Committee chairs will provide information on their work programmes for 2011, and there will also be a presentation from the French delegation on plans for their G20 Labour and Employment Ministers’ meeting, which will take place in September 2011.