The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 9 March 2015 in Brussels. Shan Morgan, Deputy UK Permanent Representative to the EU, represented the UK.
The Council held a policy debate on the European semester 2015. The UK, supported by Poland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Czech Republic, welcomed the early publication of the country reports and the additional time for engagement ahead of the publication of the country specific recommendations (CSRs) in May. The UK with the support from Hungary and Austria stated that the Commission should not be prescriptive on policy implementation and should recognise the role of member states in deciding the best course of policy action. Within this, the Council adopted both the JER and Council conclusions on the 2015 AGS.
Ministers agreed two revised Council decisions aimed at strengthening the roles of both the Employment Committee (EMCO) and Social Protection Committee (SPC) in the European semester process.
The Council adopted draft Council conclusions on moving towards more inclusive labour markets; and the EU strategic framework on Health and Safety at Work 29014-2020: adapting to new challenges.
Ministers endorsed the key messages on financing, effectiveness and efficiency of social protection systems in the joint SPC and Commission report.
Under any other business, the Latvian presidency outlined details of the Tripartite Social summit and the Commission outlined the success of the re-launching of the social dialogue. The respective Chairs of the EMCO and SPC presented their annual work programmes for 2015. Finally, the Commission presented details of its proposal on the Youth Employment Initiative, which would see the Commission pre-finance up to €1 billion to help ease budget constraints, which had stopped the initiative fully getting off the ground.