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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, 14-15 June 2021

Met dank overgenomen van Raad van de Europese Unie (Raad), gepubliceerd op maandag 14 juni 2021, 21:00.

Main results

Infographic - European Child Guarantee: how the EU protects children

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Employment and social affairs (Monday 14 June)

European Child Guarantee

The Council adopted a recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee. The aim of the recommendation is to prevent and combat social exclusion of children by guaranteeing access of children in need to a set of key services, thereby also helping to uphold the rights of the child by combating child poverty and fostering equal opportunities.

In particular, it is recommended that member states guarantee effective and free access to early childhood education and care, education and school-based activities, at least one healthy meal each school day and healthcare as well as effective access to healthy nutrition and adequate housing.

The 27 should also nominate a national Child Guarantee coordinator and submit to the Commission, within nine months of the adoption of the recommendation, an action plan covering the period until 2030 to implement this recommendation.

This is a victory not only for the Portuguese presidency. It is a victory especially for the 18 million children in the European Union at risk of poverty or social exclusion. It is a victory to guarantee education, childcare, good quality healthcare and decent housing for all children in Europe.

Ana Mendes Godinho - Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal

Telework

Since the COVID-19 outbreak there has been a huge increase in the number of people teleworking. According to a Eurofound survey, in July 2020, 34% of respondents were working solely from home, compared to 5.4% of those employed in the EU-27 who worked from home in 2019. The Council adopted conclusions on the issue which highlight that this recent increase in telework makes it necessary to consider the potential, limits and risks of teleworking. The conclusions call on member states, among other things, to consider:

  • establishing national action plans or strategies addressing the opportunities and risks related to telework, taking into account the gender perspective, or including this topic in existing or upcoming strategies
  • amending their policies regulating telework or issuing guidance, for instance with regard to the organisation and monitoring of working time, risks related to equality between women and men, and allowances to cover the costs of teleworking where applicable
  • establishing or reinforcing initiatives to strengthen labour inspection and occupational health and safety in view of the risks arising from telework.

The Council also called on the Commission to analyse the context and implications of telework in the EU and the extent to which current social and labour law in the EU ensures decent working conditions for teleworkers.

Telework has become a normality for millions of Europeans and it will continue as a hybrid model after the pandemic. Workers enjoy the flexibility and autonomy it offers, as well as the time savings, since it makes commuting unnecessary. But let's not forget the challenges that come with it, such as the blurring of boundaries between work and private life, or the isolation of workers. We approved conclusions today which call on member states to seize the opportunities and address the risks relating to telework in their national strategies and policies for the future of work.

Ana Mendes Godinho - Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal

Impact of COVID-19 on gender equality

The Council has approved conclusions which invite member states (and, where appropriate, the Commission) to take steps to mitigate the exacerbating effect of the COVID-19 crisis on some of the long-term disadvantages experienced by women and to ensure that gender equality becomes a driver for recovery.

These steps include:

  • promoting gender equality and equal opportunities in the design and implementation of recovery measures, for instance through the support of workers in hard-hit economic sectors such as retail, hospitality and tourism, addressing particular needs of women with regards to educational attainment, working hours, inactivity, unemployment and skills
  • addressing the reconciliation of work, family and private life for both women and men by ensuring that all workers, including teleworkers, have the same opportunities for career advancement, including equal access to management and decision-making positions
  • promoting equal access to all educational fields and career paths, including addressing the digital gender divide, improving digital skills and participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) study areas, especially ICT
  • developing and disseminating more data disaggregate by sex, information and research on the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality

As a result of pre-existing structural gender inequalities in the labour market and in society as a whole (the gender pay gap and the care gap) women have been and still are affected disproportionately by the COVID-19 pandemic and related containment measures. Women represent between 76% and 95% of healthcare workers and are thus at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Meanwhile, women shoulder a disproportionate share of the unpaid work (domestic and care tasks) that has increased during the COVID-19 crisis.

Like in past crises, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been equal in terms of gender, with women more greatly affected. We see the women affected in the frontline as healthcare workers, carers or childcare workers, as teachers or domestic cleaners, often facing the additional challenges of caring for their families, undertaking additional unpaid work and facing difficulties in their work-life balance. However, we do not have a clear picture of how these effects constrain women’s participation in the labour market and widen existing gaps in pay and care provision, and we can only change what we can see clearly. Now that we are working towards recovery from the crisis and are preparing our societies for the future, we need to ensure our measures are based on concrete data, allowing us to have a clear picture of what we need to change so that we can make informed decisions and correct inequalities.

Mariana Vieira da Silva - Minister of State and the Presidency of Portugal

Disability strategy

Around 87 million persons in the European Union have some form of disability and more than half of them (52%) feel discriminated against in their daily lives. In March 2021, the European Commission adopted the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2021-2030).

The Council has approved conclusions which endorse the Strategy. The conclusions invite member states to continue developing and updating national strategies and policies to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) at national, regional and local level, ensure the effective and coherent transposition and implementation of EU law on accessibility of products, services, media, transport and buildings, promote the development of person-centered community-based social services and independent living, promote participation in political and public life, taking the Strategy into account when setting voluntary national targets to achieve the proposed headlines targets of the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan and making the best use of appropriate EU funding and financial programmes.

The Portuguese presidency is strongly committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. These conclusions are a great opportunity to put words into action and to ensure we leave no-one behind. As we have been saying, this is the time to deliver, so it is of major importance that we all commit to the European Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, in line with the UNCRPD.

Ana Mendes Godinho - Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal

Infographic - Advancing a stronger Social Europe

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Adequate minimum wages

The presidency informed ministers about the state of play of the directive on adequate minimum wages. Ministers also had the opportunity to exchange views on the improvements they expect the directive to deliver and to signal what, in their views, are the critical elements of the proposal, thus laying down a possible way forward for further negotiations in view of reaching an agreement.

Porto Social Summit

The Porto Social Summit of 7 and 8 May 2021 has marked a pivotal moment for social Europe. On 7 May, the European Parliament, the Commission, the Portuguese EU Council presidency, EU social partners and the Social Platform have signed the Porto Social Commitment and on 8 May, EU Leaders agreed on the Porto Declaration, where they reinforced their commitments to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and welcomed the 2030 headline targets on employment, skills and poverty reduction of the Pillar's action plan. As a follow-up, ministers discussed the target setting and monitoring of progress achieved in implementing the Pillar's principles at national level through the European Semester.

Challenges for social dialogue and collective bargaining

Ministers also held a policy debate about the involvement of social partners in the recovery through the Resilience and Recovery Plans (RRPs) and the best approaches to social dialogue and collective bargaining in the context of an acceleration to the digital transition, especially taking into account the need to ensure representation of workers in atypical forms of work and their right of association.

In today's debate we presented our different experiences; this gave us all the opportunity to share our thoughts on the challenges we will need to address in the short, medium and long term on such important and topical issues.

Ana Mendes Godinho - Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal

Pay transparency and equal treatment

The presidency informed ministers about the state of play of a number of ongoing legislative files: a proposal for a directive on strengthening the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between men and women and a Council directive to extend the protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation to areas outside employment. For both proposals the Portuguese presidency presented a report summarising the state of play of the discussions among member states and the possible way forward to reach an agreement

European Semester, long term care and pensions

The Council endorsed the assessment of the implementation of the 2020 and 2019 Country-Specific Recommendations and the opinion of the Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee for a revised Social Scoreboard, setting new headline indicators. Both items relate to the European Semester which is the EU's framework for the coordination of economic policies across the European Union. Ministers also endorsed the conclusions on a 2021 Long Term Care Report and a 2021 Pension Adequacy Report - both from the Social Protection Committee and the European Commission.

Live streaming

Live streaming

15 June 2021

  • 7:45 Arrivals
  • 12:00 Public session
  • 15:00 Public session
  • TBC Press conference

Estimated schedule

Agenda highlights

Health (Tuesday 15 June)

Reinforced role of the European Medicines Agency

Ministers will aim to adopt a Council position ('general approach') on rules to reinforce the role of the European Medicines Agency in crisis preparedness and management for medicinal products and medical devices. They will also take stock of progress on proposals to revise the regulation establishing the European centre for disease prevention and control and on serious cross-border health threats.

COVID-19

Ministers will exchange views on the pandemic situation.

Access to medicines and medical devices

Ministers are expected to approve conclusions on access to medicines and medical devices for a stronger and resilient EU.

Other matters

Ministers will be informed by the presidency on:

  • the state of play of draft rules on health technology assessment
  • global health initiatives

They will also receive an update from the Commission on the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Meeting information

  • Meeting n°3802
  • Luxembourg
  • 14-15 June 2021

Preparatory documents

Outcome documents


1.

Relevante EU dossiers

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