The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 28 February 2013 in Brussels. I represented the UK.
There was a discussion on the European semester 2013 focusing on the priorities for action highlighted in the annual growth survey (AGS) and joint employment report (JER). The UK stressed the need to ensure that the Europe 2020 process focused on supporting delivery of difficult reforms needed to recover from the crisis. Ministers subsequently adopted Council conclusions on the AGS and the JER. Ministers also agreed a general approach on the guidelines for the employment policies of the member states and endorsed the main messages contained within the Social Protection Committee’s report on the social situation and trends to watch in the EU.
Ministers adopted a Council recommendation for a youth guarantee. The UK stressed the importance of greater member state flexibility especially on the four-month time limit, and put in a parliamentary reserve on the recommendation.
The Commission presented its social investment package, which would pave the way for a stronger social dimension of the EMU and the presidency provided further information on the forthcoming tripartite social summit.
Under any other business the presidency updated the Council on progress under legislative dossiers, the Employment Committee and Social Protection Committee Chairs outlined their work programmes for 2013, and the Employment Committee updated the Council on ongoing work with the social partners on wage developments. Finally the Commission updated Ministers on the transitional arrangements regarding free movement of workers of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and reported on the working time directive social partner negotiations.