30 Oct

On 24 October 2019 the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council discussed agenda items relating to employment and social affairs. The head of the Hungarian delegation was Mr Bence Rétvári, Deputy Minister and Parliamentary State Secretary.

The Council adopted contingency measures about the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, supporting workers who may loose their jobs in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The Council adopted conclusions on the Economy of Wellbeing. The conclusions call upon the Commission and Member States to systematically take into account the wellbeing perspective when designing policy measures. The Council Conclusions interpret the economy of wellbeing as a policy orientation and governance approach which put people and their wellbeing at the centre of policy and decision-making. It recalls the challenges and possible responses to specific areas such as poverty and social exclusion, the changing world of work and working conditions, gender equality, social protection, health and long-term care, and education. It also sets out several tasks for both the Member States and the new Commission. It invites the Commission – inter alia – to propose, on the expiry of the Europe 2020 strategy, a new long-term growth strategy for the Union, aimed at ensuring that the Union becomes the world’s most competitive and socially inclusive, climate-neutral economy.

Ministers held a public debate on how to strengthen anti-discrimination measures in the European Union. The aim of the debate was to take stock of the current situation and to identify challenges and possible ways of taking forward the EU's fight against discrimination beyond the field of employment. Representatives of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet) and the Social Platform contributed to the debate by presenting their findings regarding the topic. Member States underlined their commitment to step up efforts in the area. Ministers also emphasised the importance of awareness-raising, education, prevention and the need for respecting the principle of subsidiarity and the competences of the Member States. The presidency will draft a summary of the debate to support the new Commission and incoming presidencies in their actions against discrimination. This report will be presented to European Council in December.

During the Council’s meeting the Commission presented its communication on more efficient decision-making in social policy. The communication encourages moving to qualified majority voting or using the ordinary legislative procedure in areas that are still governed by unanimity or require a special legislative procedure. The presentation by the Commission was followed by an informal lunch debate on the same topic.

The Council adopted conclusions, which aim at promoting the International Labour Organisation (ILO) centenary declaration on the future of work.

Ministers also held a policy debate on "Matching skills and labour market needs in the changing world of work” with the aim of exploring the best strategic approach to continuous lifelong learning.

Within the framework of the European Semester, the Employment Committee (EMCO) and the Social Protection Committee (SPC) presented the key messages from their annual reviews on the employment and social situation in the EU and policy developments in the Member States. The Council endorsed the messages.