The first employment and social EPSCO Council under the 2023 Swedish Presidency took place in Brussels on 13 March.
The ministers exchanged views about the role and purpose of the European Semester and the competitiveness of the Union in light of the green and digital transitions. The Council adopted the 2023 Joint Employment Report and approved council conclusions on the 2023 Annual Sustainable Growth Survey and Joint Employment Report. There was another exchange of views employment and social situation in the EU, with a focus on the labour market situation of temporarily displaced persons from Ukraine. In the presence of the Ukrainian Minister of Social Policy Mr Lodewijk Asscher, Special Advisor of Commissioner Schmit on Ukraine also shared his findings on this subject. The Council debated the way forward regarding the Commission’s proposal for council decision authorising Member States to ratify, in the interest of the European Union, the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) of the International Labour Organisation. Hungary was represented by Mr. Sándor Czomba, Secretary of State responsible for employment policy, who presented Hungary’s achievements in terms of employment and our efforts to help temporarily displaced persons from Ukraine.
During the exchange of views about the European Semester the ministers shared their experiences and best practices about the green and digital transitions and its effects to the labour markets and to the competitiveness of the Member States and the Union. A number of speakers described the national efforts for the re- and upskilling of workers in order to help them acquire the necessary skills that are needed for a rapidly changing labout market.
Sadly marking the one year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, the Council – in the presence of Ms Zholnovych, Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine and Ms. Hanna Prorok, Deputy Minister for European Integration in Ukraine – analysed the employment and social situation in the EU, with a focus on the labour market situation of temporarily displaced persons from Ukraine. Mr Lodewijk Asscher, Special Advisor of Commissioner Schmit on Ukraine shared his findings.
The Commission provided information about the planned activities and work with stakeholders in the context of the Decision on a European Year of Skills 2023; also about its recently published initiative for a directive amending Directives 98/24/EC and 2004/37/EC as regards the limit values for lead and its inorganic compounds and diisocyanates; similarly, on the Report from the Commission to the Council on the implementation of the Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. The Commission and the Presidency jointly informed the ministers about the planned Tripartite Social Summit in Brussels, 22 March and the Portuguese minister on their initiative for the Porto Social Forum to be held in Porto, on 25-27 May 2023.