The European Union’s Employment and Social Policy Ministers held an orientation debate on a proposed Directive intended to improve implementation and enforcement of the Directive concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services, during their Council meeting today, December 6, in Brussels. The Ministers also held an exchange of views on economic governance in the field of employment and social policy within the framework of the implementation of the ‘Europe 2020’ Strategy and adopted a Council Declaration for the European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, as well as Council Conclusions in favour of combating violence against women.
The Cyprus Presidency, which places particular emphasis on the promotion of the legislative proposal for the enforcement of the Directive concerning the Posting of Workers and recognising the important contribution it can have in the prevention of worker exploitation, today updated the Council of Employment and Social Policy on the progress achieved at the Council in relation to the negotiations on the text of the Directive’s proposal.
The Presidency has achieved significant progress on several parts of the proposal and this progress had allowed the Presidency to invite the Ministers to an orientation debate on article 9 (national control measures) and 12 (joint and several liability) of the proposal, in view of the divergences in member states’ positions regarding issues of principles.
Targeting a general approach next year
By holding the orientation debate, the aim of the Cyprus Presidency was to send a signal to the European Parliament on the importance that the Council attaches to this Directive. This is expected to pave the way for the Irish Presidency to finalise work with a view to the Council reaching a general approach in June 2013.
“The enforcement of the Posting of Workers Directive is a very important proposal for business in a functioning Single Market, while respecting minimum standards for workers. There are issues on which convergence between the Member States has not, yet, been achieved. It has been demonstrated that, with the necessary flexibility and recognising the need to secure the rights of posted workers, as well as the possibility of the more effective operation of the Single Market, we can find the solutions to ensure that the Directive can progress further. The ideal solution will come about through flexibility, common willingness and cooperation,” said the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance of the Republic of Cyprus, Ms. Sotiroula Charalambous.
The European Commission presented this proposal in March 2012, aiming to clarify and improve implementation and enforcement of the 1996 Directive on posting of workers for service provision in another member state. Posted workers are those employed in one EU Member State but sent by their employers on a temporary basis to carry out their work in another Member State. The Cyprus Presidency considers that the proposed Directive will help towards better implementation of the legislative framework to protect posted workers and provide an important contribution in the prevention of worker exploitation. The Posting of Workers Directive is one of the 12 priority proposals as set out in the Single Market Act.
“Europe 2020” Strategy Governance
The EPSCO Ministers also held an exchange of views on economic governance in the field of employment and social policy, within the framework of the implementation of the ‘Europe 2020’ Strategy, based on a document prepared by the Presidency. Ministers' discussions were based on a presentation by the Commission of its Annual Growth Survey 2013, including the Joint Employment report, and the Alert Mechanism report. There was a consensus among ministers that the current situation in the labour market and the social circumstances require the efforts to continue focusing on the priorities set by the European Council last March, and in particular, the EPSCO Council should continue the efforts to tackle unemployment and the negative impacts of the crisis.
“In order for the European Semester cycle to be effective, we have to focus our attention on the implementation of the country specific recommendations. This is a fundamental duty that we must undertake,” Ms Charalambous said.
On his part, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Mr. László Andor, informed the Council about the Youth Employment Package, which was presented by the Commission yesterday, December 5. The package includes four key initiatives aimed at supporting Member States in helping young people in the transition from education to employment. These are the Youth Guarantee for young people aged 25 or below, the launch of a consultation of European social partners on a Quality Framework for Traineeships so as to enable young people to acquire high-quality work experience under safe conditions, a European Alliance for Apprenticeships to improve the quality and supply of apprenticeships available by spreading successful apprenticeship schemes across the Member States and finally it outlines ways to reduce obstacles to mobility for young people. Also, the expected changes to modernise and improve EURES, the pan-EU job search network, will mean that it will cover forms of employment that combine work and learning opportunities, such as apprenticeships.
“Youth unemployment constitutes a new form of exclusion. There is a necessity to support Member States to ensure young people's successful transition into work. The costs of not doing so would be catastrophic,” said Commissioner Andor.
Proposal to maintain the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and Declaration on the European Year
The Council took a note of a progress report on the proposal to maintain the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for the period 2014 – 2020. This proposal is linked to the Multiannual Financial Framework and is subject to important discussions, with a number of countries expressing their disagreement to the proposed amendments.
The Presidency also informed the Council on the state of negotiations with the European Parliament on the European Commission proposal on an EU Programme for Social Change and Innovation (PSCI).
Moreover, the Ministers adopted the Council Declaration on European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations: The Way Forward. The Year aims at raising awareness of the contribution that older people make to society and encourage action at all levels with the aim of creating better opportunities for active ageing and strengthening solidarity between generations, in the framework of the ‘Europe 2020’ Strategy for an inclusive growth, higher employment and elimination of poverty.
Combating violence against women and gender balance
The Ministers also adopted Council Conclusions in favour of combating violence against women, calling for more determined action in providing support services for victims of domestic violence. The Conclusions highlight the importance of coordinated action to prevent and eliminate violence in the EE.
Over the course of lunch, Ministers discussed a proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges.
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