The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 13 October 2016 in Luxembourg. Damian Hinds MP, Minister of State for Employment at the Department for Work and Pensions, represented the UK.
The Council reached a general approach on the proposal to amend the carcinogens and mutagens directive, which protects workers from the risk of exposure to carcinogens and mutagens in the work place. The UK, along with all member states and the Commission, supported the proposal.
The Council also reached political agreement on the directive to implement the social partner agreement on the ILO Work in Fishing Convention. The UK supported the proposal but also submitted a minute statement which outlined reservations on its application to the self-employed and competence.
There was a policy debate on the Commission’s New Skills agenda proposal and an endorsement of the Employment Committee (EMCO) opinion on it. The UK intervention set out the UK’s skills plan and apprenticeship reforms, emphasising the importance of putting employers at the heart of the system. The UK welcomed the EMCO opinion, including recognition that many of these issues were member state competence.
The Council endorsed the Social Protection Committee (SPC) and the EMCO reports on the European semester. The Commission noted and endorsed the streamlining of the European semester process.
There was an exchange of views, followed by a lunch time discussion, on youth employment. The Commission highlighted the tools and funding the Commission has made available to fight youth unemployment. There was then an exchange of views on long-term unemployment.
The presidency outlined the agenda for the Tripartite Social summit on 19 October.
The Council adopted Council conclusions on the Court of Auditors report on Roma integration. Introducing the item, the presidency noted that 6 million Roma living in the EU still faced discrimination and disadvantage. It would bring a second, broader, set of conclusions to Council in December.
The Council generally endorsed the joint EMCO/SPC opinion on the social pillar. The presidency and the Commission confirmed this would not pre-empt member state Government responses to the on-going Commission consultation.
Under any other business, the presidency provided information on the revision of the Blue Card directive, the action plan on integration of third country nationals, and the collaborative economy. The Greek delegation provided an update on labour market reforms in Greece.