Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Work and Pensions written statement – made on 17th May 2007.

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Photo of James Plaskitt James Plaskitt Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 30 May in Brussels. The Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, My hon. Friend, the Member for Stirling (Mrs. MsGuire), who has responsibility for disabled people, will be representing the UK. Health and Consumer Affairs issues are being taken on 31 May.

The Council will seek political agreement on guidelines for the Employment Policies of the member states. The UK supports this text.

There will be an endorsement of the Active Ageing opinion following a study of all member states policies in this area. We welcome this exchange of good practice underpinning a key Lisbon priority.

The Council will consider the adoption and a policy debate on the Commission's published Communication on a new health and safety strategy for 2007-2012, published on 21 February 2007. The Council will be invited to adopt a draft Resolution on the strategy. It generally welcomes the strategy, but reinforces calls on the Commission to simplify the legislative framework and reduce administrative burdens. The UK will support the Resolution.

The Council will aim to reach agreement on a partial general approach on both the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/04 on the co-ordination of social security schemes and the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 883/ 2004 on the co-ordination of social security systems, and determining the content of Annexe XL. The UK is content, but will be making a statement for the Council minutes to make clear that our agreement to the provisions for healthcare is provisional and subject to future discussions on the proposal for health services.

The Council will receive an amendments package for Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons, to self-employed persons and to members of their families moving within the Community. This amendments package is non controversial.

The key agenda item will be the Presidency hopes to get political agreement on a directive for improving the portability of supplementary pension rights. Depending on the outcome of current negotiations, we are likely to support the Presidency proposal.

The Council will seek adoption of the draft conclusions on the importance of family-friendly policies in Europe and the establishment of an Alliance for Families. The UK supports this initiative on the basis that the Alliance works with existing EU structures and does not duplicate work.

The Council will seek adoption of the conclusions pertaining to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. The Presidency has chosen to work on the theme of "The Education and Training of Women" and has produced a report including a set of indicators. The UK supports the text.

The chair of the Social Protection Committee (SPC) will inform the Council on the progress on a communication on Social Services of General Interest. The SPC has discussed Member State responses to a consultation on whether significant problems exist between modernising social services and applying EU competition policy. There will be further EU level evaluation before any conclusions are drawn and any proposals brought forward.

Under Any Other Business, there will be reports of recent Presidency conferences.