Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) is composed of the Ministers responsible for employment, social protection, consumer protection, health and equal opportunities. The Council meets about four times a year. During its Presidency, Finland will hold one EPSCO meeting (and one extraordinary EPSCO meeting). The meeting will be chaired by Minister of Labour, Tarja Filatov, Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Tuula Haatainen and Minister of Health and Social Services, Liisa Hyssälä, as appropriate for the matter under discussion.
During Finland's EU Presidency, employment policy will be geared towards meeting the challenges created by globalisation by increasing labour productivity, improving the quality of work and the way it is organised, and by continuing debate on the balance between flexibility and security at work. Improving the attractiveness of work and the quality of working life is essential as a way of extending working lives, i.e. the lifelong working time, raising employment and attaining the Lisbon Strategy objectives.
The aim is to finalise the Working Time Directive during Finland’s Presidency. Arrangements for the setting up of the European Globalisation Fund are also to be brought to a conclusion. Finland is prepared, on the basis of a new Commission proposal, to take forward negotiations on the Temporary Agency Work Directive. Consideration will also be given to the mobility of workers and promotion of equal opportunities in working life. Legal immigration will also be discussed as a means of ensuring an adequate supply of labour.
Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
During Finland’s Presidency, the main focus in social policy will be on effective ways to meet the challenges of demographic changes and their implications for working life. Discussions will be based on the Lisbon Strategy and Commission’s green paper. In health policy, the objective is to promote the principle of Health in All Policies (HIAP). In gender equality policy, the focus will, for the first time, be on men and gender equality. The Council aims to endorse the establishment of a European Institute for Gender Equality. The Council will also discuss the amended proposal for the anti-violence programme (Daphne III) with the aim of finalising the process.
The main EU legislative proposals will be concerned with the coordination of social security and the proposed Directive on the portability of supplementary pension rights, revision of legislation on medical devices and a proposal for a Directive on tissue engineering. Work will also continue on the Commission’s alcohol strategy, the green paper on mental health and the communication on nutrition and physical activity. During its Presidency, Finland will push ahead with the health and consumer-protection programme for 2007-2013 and will try to ensure it is adopted.The Council will also discuss issues relating to foodstuffs. Proposals for a Regulation on food improvement agents (including food additives, flavourings and enzymes plus joint related administrative measures) are to be presented in summer 2006. The Council is to give an overview of how the consideration of the Regulation in the working party on foodstuffs is progressing.
Consumer affairs will be dealt with in conjunction with the Competitiveness Council. Revision of the Consumer Credit Directive will be the chief legislative project. Toy safety will be discussed in a working group.
An unofficial meeting of the labour, health and social affairs ministers will be held during Finland’s Presidency to discuss changes in the population’s age structure and the challenges created by globalisation. EU ministers from the three sectors will seek ways to improve the attractiveness of work, improve the quality of working life and wellbeing at work with the aim of lengthening working lives and facilitating the reconciliation of work and family life.
There will be six civil servants' meetings and conferences relating to employment: the meetings of the Directors-General for employment and labour relations; an unofficial meeting of the employment committee; the related conference "Towards higher productivity and better jobs”; the MISEP (Mutual Information System on Employment Policies) meeting and an ESF meeting.
Five social and health policy conferences will be held on mainstreaming health, men and equality, features of social protection systems specific to individual countries and the European social model; poverty and social exclusion and cooperation between authorities in preventing drug use and combating drug-related infectious diseases. There will also be a meeting of EU ministers responsible for gender equality issues. Ten experts meetings will be arranged during the half-year period of Presidency.
More on this website:
- Other document, 09 Jul 2006, 12:19
Letter by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Liisa Hyssälä, to her colleagues
- Other document, 30 Jun 2006, 19:36
Letter by the Minister of Labour, Tarja Filatov, and the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Tuula Haatainen, to their colleagues