Employment and Social Policy
Ministers held a policy debate on the European Semester 2019, based on a Presidency steering note entitled "The European Pillar of Social Rights - an initiative for improving the functioning of the labour market and social protection systems across the EU".
Linked to its debate on the European Semester the Council adopted the Joint Employment Report 2019 (JER). This report will be submitted to the European Council on 21-22 March, in line with Article 148 (1) of the TFEU, to "consider the employment situation and adopt conclusions thereon".
As part of the same debate Ministers adopted Conclusions on the 2019 Annual Growth Survey and Joint Employment Report. The Conclusions will feed into the main messages from the EPSCO Council to the European Council on 21-22 March.
We are all very encouraged with the improving social situation in Europe. Within the EU we are witnessing a record high employment rate, which is back to pre-crisis levels. But we should not be complacent. More efforts are needed to tackle serious challenges such as significant disparities between member States and the high rate of youth unemployment in some areas.
Marius-Constantin Budăi, Minister of Labour and Social Justice of Romania
As part of the European semester, the Commission presented the 2019 Country Reports. This presentation will be followed by the Commission's proposal on the draft CSR's which are expected in May 2019.
European Globalisation Adjustment Fund
The Council reached a partial general approach (the Council's position) on a proposal for a Regulation on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The fund is designed to support Member States where unexpected major restructuring events occur, particularly events caused by globalisation-related challenges. The Council's position does not cover the budgetary aspects or provisions of horizontal nature, pending further progress on the next multiannual financial framework (MFF).
Ministers held a lunch debate, based on a Presidency steering note. The topic was Developing adult skills - a priority in the context of socio-economic changes in the EU.
The Council also held a policy debate on the Social dimension of Europe post 2020 based on a Presidency discussion paper.
Any other business
Ministers were briefed by the Presidency and the Commission on the Tripartite Social Summit which will take place on 20 March. The main theme of the summit will be "For a stronger, united and forward-looking Europe".
The Presidency also informed Ministers about a large number of current legislative proposals in the fields of employment, labour law and health and safety at work:
The Commission briefed Ministers on the state of play of the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI). Members States are supposed to finalise their national implementation of EESSI by July 2019.
The Chairs of the Employment Committee (EMCO) and the Social Protection Committee (SPC) presented to Ministers the work programmes of their respective committees for 2019.