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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Volume 540: debated on Thursday 9 February 2012

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 17 February 2012 in Brussels. The Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb), who is the Minister with responsibility for employment relations, consumer and postal affairs, will represent the United Kingdom.

There will be three roundtable discussions at this meeting. The first will be a policy debate on women on company boards. My hon. Friend will stress that the UK is committed to seeing more women on company boards. He will further highlight the merits of industry-led measures that achieve real culture change as opposed to the setting of legally binding quotas.

The second discussion is scheduled to be an initial exchange of views on new European Commission proposals related to the posting of workers. The proposals are yet to be published. When responding to these proposals, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will make clear that in considering the proposals the UK will take account of their likely impact on growth, competitiveness and jobs.

The third discussion will be a policy debate on the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy in the field of employment and social policy. The debate will centre on a set of Council conclusions on the joint employment report priorities for action. My hon. Friend will stress the need for deeper structural reforms to get European economies moving and people back into work. He will acknowledge that the conclusions fully reflect the mandate given to Council by heads of state and Government in December 2010 and at last month’s informal European Council for EU Employment Ministers to exchange views on the effective functioning of labour markets.

Under any other business the Commission will provide information on transitional arrangements on the free movement of workers from Bulgaria and Romania. The presidency will provide information on the preparation of the tripartite social summit. The Commission and presidency will provide information on preparation for the G20 Meeting of Labour and Employment Ministers; and on the Euro-Mediterranean employment and labour high-level working group. Finally, the Employment Committee and Social Protection Committee chairs will provide information on their work programmes for 2012.