Employment and social affairs
EU ministers for employment and social affairs held a debate on worker participation and support for workers in restructuring. Ministers exchanged views on how to ensure that investments in skills and the use of EU funds lead to successful restructuring strategies. They also discussed which measures at EU or national level could help to improve the protection of workers right to information and consultation in restructuring situations.
Economic strength and social security are two sides of the same coin. The German presidency has shown that even turbulent times can be productive times. Thanks to our joint intensive efforts with Commissioner Schmit and my EU counterparts, we have made progress on Social Europe. My fellow EU ministers and I have agreed on a roadmap to improve protection for seasonal workers in the EU, and we have affirmed that we need to have - and want to establish - a framework for minimum income protection. I am particularly pleased that we were able to agree on the renewal of the Youth Guarantee unanimously without delays. This sends a strong signal to young people: instead of unemployment, there will be training, internships, and help with starting a career, everywhere in the EU. We will not leave anyone behind. Europe remains a continent of opportunities.
Hubertus Heil, German Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
Ministers broadly agreed that restructuring strategies will only be successful and achieve productivity gains if they are coupled with strong re- and upskilling policies. It was stressed that this was essential for managing just transitions to the green and digital economy, but also to address the demographic challenges. The majority of ministers explained that their governments were working hard to anticipate the market needs in the short and long-term, but highlighted that language and digital skills were among the most important skills for the future. The debate showed that many member states were also investing in retraining people for sectors in which new jobs will be created. Several ministers stressed the importance to ensure that young people were not left behind, and welcomed the reinforced Youth Guarantee. During the debate, participants also highlighted the important role of EU funds, such as the European Social Fund+ and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to address the adverse effect of the social impact of restructuring.
In the context of major restructurings across the EU, ministers agreed that it was very important to ensure workers’ involvement in company decision-making, notably in cases such as company reorganizations, closures, mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, outsourcing, and relocations. Ministers also insisted that the pandemic should not serve as an excuse to cut workers' rights on information and consultation and stressed that it was crucial for the economic recovery and successful restructurings to ensure inclusive social dialogue at all levels.
Ministers also held a debate on equal participation of women and men in the labour market. They exchanged views on ways to further promote gender equality and combat the segregation of women and men in the labour market.
The coronavirus crisis has shown: women keep things running. All over Europe more than 75 percent of critical workers are women. But in leadership positions, women are underrepresented. And women take on the greater share of unpaid care work - often at the cost of their own career and pension. Today, I discussed with my EU colleagues how gender equality in the labour market can be promoted. Gender equality in the labour market is not a luxury. On the contrary: it will make the EU more socially and economically robust. Especially in times of crisis.
Dr. Franziska Giffey, German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Ministers agreed that the current pandemic highlighted the gender imbalance in many sectors. They stressed that the crisis had also shown the urgent need, but also valuable opportunities, to promote gender equality in the labour market in general and in social professions in particular. The debate focused on efforts to achieve inclusive working environment, equal pay, a higher share of women also in decision-making, better remuneration for jobs usually performed by women and fight against gender stereotypes. Some ministers highlighted the importance of including gender equality topics in early education and raising awareness about gender issues among key groups, such as young people. Several participants in the debate expressed support for the recent EU gender equality strategy, the announced EU pay transparency directive and called on the presidency and member states to finally move forward with the EU 'Women on boards' directive.
Any other business
The presidency provided information on the Tripartite Social Summit held in June 2020 and briefed ministers about the next Tripartite Social Summit to be held on 14 October 2020.
In a public session, the presidency informed ministers about the agreement reached between the Council and the European Parliament on a proposal for a decision amending Decision No 573/2014/EU on cooperation between Public Employment Services (PES) 11090/20 ADD1.
In a public session, the Commission presented to ministers a proposal for a directive amending Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work 11188/20.
-13 October 2020