In times of particular concerns over the situation in Ukraine, social and employment ministers had their meeting within the EPSCO Council on 14 March 2022, discussing several issues. Ministers reached a general approach on the women on company board directive. Policy debates took place about the crisis in Ukraine, combating discrimination in recruitment and fostering full participation by older people. Council conclusions related to employment and the European Semester have been also approved.
The specific situation in Ukraine incited the ministers to welcome and to have an exchange of view over the very recent Commission proposal on the Cohesion Action for Refugees in Europe. The situation in Eastern Europe being alarming and at the very heart of actual European common thinking, the ministers paid further attention to Ukraine, the lunch discussion being dedicated to investigate what measures belonging to their respective competences may ensure to effectively deal with employment and social issues arising from recent evolvements.
The Council reached a general approach regarding the women on company board directive, a dossier that has been in the focus for very long years without considerable developments. Hungary underlined that initiatives to promote equal opportunities and equal treatment between women and men to be of utmost importance, and therefore generally supports the aim of the draft directive to strengthen women's participation at all levels of decision-making, including in the economic sphere. Nevertheless, Hungary continues to believe that the most appropriate way to achieve these targets are through national initiatives with a bottom-up approach as opposed to binding, quantitative quotas. Although there was a considerable progress regarding the text through the negotiations, Hungary believes that there would have been further room for improvement in the draft in order to take better into account the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and the proper consideration of the different company and corporate laws of EU Member States. Hungary considers it extremely important to support the empowerment of women, therefore Hungary abstained and issued a national statement.
The ministers held a constructive policy debate on the matter related to combating discrimination in recruitment and promoting diversity in the world of work focusing on discovering ways to ensure level playing fields for all workers regardless to their personal circumstances. Senior citizens face multifaceted challenges regarding the area of employment, accordingly, as a good continuation to the previous topic, the ministers – in the context of another policy debate – discussed initiatives to foster full participation by older people in the labour market.
As any other business points, the Council has had information on the Annual report on equality between women and men, also the implementation of the EU Anti-racism action plan. Concerning the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, the current status of national goals for employment, skills and poverty, furthermore the first year of the European Child Guarantee have been observed.