Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council 7th March 2016, Brussels

Department for Work and Pensions written statement – made on 14th March 2016.

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Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

The Employment & Social Affairs (EPSCO) Council met in Brussels on 7th March. Shan Morgan, Deputy Permanent Representative, represented the UK.

The Council discussed the implementation of Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) as part of the European Semester. Member States, including the UK, agreed that CSRs should be specific but should take into account the national context, aiming for outcomes not outputs.

As part of the European Semester process, Ministers adopted the 2016 Joint Employment Report and Council Conclusions on the 2016 Annual Growth Survey Council also reached general agreement on the 2016 Employment Guidelines but the UK maintained a parliamentary scrutiny reservation.

The Commission provided an update on progress following the launch of the New Start for Social Dialogue in March 2015 and the Dutch Presidency confirmed that the Tripartite Social Summit on 16th March would focus on Job Creation and Inclusive Growth.

The Council endorsed the Employment Committee’s Key Messages on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee.

On the Labour Mobility Package, the Commission confirmed that it would publish its proposal for a revision of the 1996 Posting of Workers Directive on 8th March. Proposals on changes to social security coordination (Regulation 883/04) would not be published until after the UK referendum.

Ministers also had an orientation debate to inform the European Commission’s proposed New Agenda for Skills.

The Presidency presented draft Council Conclusions on Gender and LGBTI Equality as a package. Despite strong support from many Member States, including the UK Council was unable to reach agreement on the Conclusions. The Commission confirmed that it would launch its consultation on a European Pillar of Social Rights on 8th March. The Pillar would be targeted at the Eurozone but it would be open to all Member States to join voluntarily.

Finally, under any other business, the Commission presented briefly to the Council the Energy Union, the Istanbul Convention and gave an update on the State of Play on European Social Fund and Youth Employment Initiative implementation. The chairs of the Employment and Social Protection Committees also presented their work programmes for 2016.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS602