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Volume 597: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2015

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council took place on 18 June 2015 in Luxembourg. Lord Freud, Minister for welfare reform, represented the UK.

There was a policy debate on the European semester 2015. As part of the discussion, the Council sought approval of draft Council recommendations on the national reform programmes 2015 to each member state; sought endorsement of the opinions of the Employment Committee (EMCO) and the Social Protection Committee (SPC) for the assessment of the 2015 country-specific. Most Ministers welcomed the streamlined process and outlined their acceptance for their respective CSRs and endorsed the EMCO report on employment performance monitor and benchmarks. Lord Freud highlighted the progress made domestically on issues such as childcare and skills.

The Council agreed a general approach on the proposals for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the member states.

The Council adopted draft Council conclusions on European Court of Auditors’ special report No. 3/2015 “EU Youth Guarantee: first steps taken, but implementation risk ahead”; and draft Council conclusions on “Equal income opportunities for women and men: Closing the gender gap on pensions”.

The Council received progress reports on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures; and the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. On women on boards in particular, the Commission hoped for a general approach at the October EPSCO Council in order for the file to be adopted by the end of the year.

Under any other business, the Latvian presidency informed the Council on current legislative proposals, and outcomes of the conferences organised by the Latvian presidency. The Commission provided information on the national Roma integration strategy—annual implementation report; and the report on the functioning of the transitional arrangements on free movement of workers from Croatia and accompanying Commission staff working document. The Luxembourg delegation provided information on the work programme of the incoming presidency, stating that it intended to make progress on the platform on undeclared work and the anti-discrimination directive and wanted to focus on inclusive growth. It also wanted to explore the challenges arising from technological developments in the workplace and the skills needed for young people to successfully enter the labour market.