Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

Ministers discussed the future of the European Semester – a yearly process whereby member states coordinate their economic, labour, fiscal and social policy within the EU – and adopted key messages from two advisory committees. They also exchanged views on safety and health at work in view of important changes to the world of work such as the ageing of our societies. Minister also approved conclusions on gender mainstreaming in the EU budget.

European Semester

COVID-19 led to a number of changes to the 2021 European Semester process as it focused on the national (post-pandemic) Recovery and Resilience Plans. As ministers for employment and social affairs are keen for a return to a Semester process which includes a strong social dimension they discussed how the European Pillar of Social Rights’ Action Plan, and in particular the three EU headline targets on employment, skills and poverty reduction, can best be reflected in the future European Semester.

At their policy debate they highlighted that fairness and social cohesion should be among the core objectives of the economic recovery post-COVID. The ministers emphasised the need for a strong role of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council and its preparatory bodies in the Semester process. In addition, they made a strong call to return to the Semester process as soon as possible with country reports and recommendations for member states, which may also be multiannual, as well as by ensuring proper monitoring in the future and by including realistic and feasible headline targets. This should guarantee the inclusion of the social and employment dimension in the 2022 Semester process. As a follow-up to the debate in the EPSCO Council, the Presidency of the Council (EPSCO) will send a letter to the chair of the ECOFIN Council with key messages from the debate.

Today’s discussion with my fellow ministers has inspired us all in our efforts to implement the principles laid down in the European Pillar of Social Rights. I am hopeful that we can soon come back to a Semester which includes a strong social and employment dimension. – Janez Cigler Kralj, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities

Ministers endorsed key messages from the Employment and the Social Protection Committees which are based on their respective Performance Monitors and Annual Review and feed into the forthcoming Semester process.

The Council also adopted a Council decision on Guidelines for the employment policies of member states.

Safety and health at work

The world of work is facing a number of significant challenges, not the least demographic changes which cause a shrinking of the working-age population. This threatens the stability of the EU’s labour markets and social protection systems. Working conditions that make work sustainable for all because they assist people in their job and support them to remain in work are vital to address these issues. A key way of doing so is through ensuring a high level of occupational health and safety.

Ministers addressed the role of occupational health and safety to make work more sustainable during a policy debate. Ministers, among other things, highlighted that the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027 will help to ensure that occupational safety and health standards meet the requirements of the changing world of work. (As workers are getting older it is necessary to adapt the working environment and tasks to their specific needs and to minimise risks. New technologies but also remote work can be relevant in this respect.)

The ageing of our societies risks our workforce to shrink. But fewer people in job means fewer people to contribute to our social security systems. That’s why we are focussing on making working conditions safe and healthy to ensure that people feel supported in their job and remain at work.

Janez Cigler Kralj, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities

Gender mainstreaming

The Council approved conclusions on gender mainstreaming in the EU budget. The conclusions are the Council’s reaction to a report by the European Court of Auditors which assessed whether gender mainstreaming had been applied in the EU budget to promote equality between women and men. Gender mainstreaming is about actively promoting equality between women and men at all stages and in all areas of policy-making and implementation. Ministers for instance highlighted that it is an immediate priority that the Recovery and Resilience Plans – which member states have drawn up to benefit from EU funding to recover from the crisis – contribute to the promotion of gender equality in order to ensure that the recovery is fair and inclusive.

  • Conclusions on Gender Mainstreaming in the EU Budget
Other business

The Commission presented its long-term vision for rural areas and both the Presidency and the Commission informed ministers about the Tripartite Social Summit which will take place on 20 October 2021.

The Commission also gave a presentation on the state of play of the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI) instrument and on the European Social Protection Pass (ESS Pass).

Meeting information
  • Meeting n°3818
  • Luxembourg
  • 15 October 2021
  • 10:00
Preparatory documents
Outcome documents
Press releases


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