For better jobs and quality of life in the EU, the rule of law and equal criteria for all
The Slovenian Presidency has made important progress on minimum wages in the EU and more equal pay between women and men. Ministers approved the definition of the European Sports Model for the first time and declared 2022 the European Year of Youth. Slovenia also led a debate on the rule of law in the Council of the EU.
For better working conditions in the EU
The European social model is at the heart of the European way of life. Although it was considered that reaching an agreement among member states would be difficult, the Employment and Social Policy Council reached a compromise on a directive on adequate minimum wages, which will ensure fair working conditions in the EU. It is estimated that the directive could allow minimum wages to increase in more than half of EU member states, having a positive impact on more than 25 million workers.
At the same time, we have succeeded in reaching a general approach in the Council on a directive on pay transparency, which will have an important impact on preventing discrimination and guaranteeing the right to equal pay for equal work or work of equal value between men and women. The directive sets out measures to ensure pay transparency for female and male workers and employers and to improve access to justice for victims of pay discrimination. It is now time for negotiations with the European Parliament.
The Employment and Social Policy Council also adopted Council conclusions on sustainable work over the life course, prepared by the Slovenian Presidency. Technological progress, globalisation, climate change and, in particular, an ageing population are bringing new challenges in the field of labour. The Council notes that these challenges will only be met if we ensure sustainable work for all, focus on health and safety at work, promote lifelong learning, find solutions to facilitate the reconciliation of work and private life and create fair working conditions.
Sports and young people high up the Presidency agenda
During the Slovenian Presidency, the first important agreement between the member states was reached in the field of sport, namely the Council approved a resolution on the European Sports Model. It is based on European values such as fairness, solidarity, good governance, human rights and the voice of athletes in all sports organisations. EU ministers have called for sport that inspires and unites people, is inclusive and accessible to all. The European Sports Model features a pyramidal structure and organised sport, structured on a national basis with one federation per sport, freedom of association, solidarity with lower-tier sport levels and the promotion of open competitions. With the adoption of the resolution, the member states joined forces to combat excessive commercialisation and unfair exploitation of sport.
One of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency was to promote the active participation of young people. That is why we have included them as important stakeholders in major events in the field of youth, education and science. We have adopted conclusions on the expansion of civic spaces for young people, thereby strengthening their voice. We worked with the European Commission and the European Parliament to declare 2022 the European Year of Youth, providing young people with a range of opportunities for their personal, social and career development. In 2022, EU member states and European institutions, working together with civil society organisations and young people, will organise numerous events throughout the year, as well as information and promotional campaigns at the European, national and local levels. We will address a number of pressing issues in the areas of equality and inclusion, sustainability, mental health and well-being, and high-quality jobs. Young people living outside the EU will also be involved in the European Year of Youth.
The rule of law as the foundation of the EU
The Slovenian Presidency addressed the area of the rule of law at four out of the five meetings of the General Affairs Council, contributing to the consolidation and strengthening of the annual dialogue on the rule of law in two constructive discussions.
At the GAC meeting in October, on the basis of the second annual report on the rule of law by the Commission, a general debate on the rule of law in the EU as a whole was held as part of the annual dialogue. In a constructive and inclusive political debate, the Presidency focused on accountability and maintaining a balance between the different branches of government during the period of measures to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. In November, the General Affairs Council held a country-specific debate on the rule of law in five EU member states: Croatia, Cyprus, Italy, Latvia and Lithuania. In the positive and lively debate, some countries stated more specifically their intention to work more closely together on the basis of learning from experience and good practices in specific reform areas.
In December, the Slovenian Presidency continued the procedure under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on the EU, in the context of which the Council took note of the rule of law situation in Poland and the situation regarding the Union's values in Hungary. In continuing the procedure, which has been on the agenda of the December meeting since the start of the preparations for the Presidency, the Presidency has taken into account the dynamics and new developments to date. It assessed that it was important for the Council to take note of the situation.
In December, the General Affairs Council also took note of a report by the European Union agency for Fundamental (FRA) on the challenges of and recent trends in anti-Semitic incidents in the EU between 2010 and 2020.
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