Meeting of ministers in charge of employment and social policy in Luxembourg

October 15, 2014

Hat: Council of Employment and Social Policy Ministers

Funding Scheme: 2014-10-15

Pgm2014 2020: Yes


The EU’s Council of Employment and Social Policy Ministers will meet on 16 October in Luxembourg.


Key issues under discussion will be a ‘general approach’ on the Commission proposal to establish a Platform against Undeclared Work and the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the evaluation of the European Semester. The Council will be chaired by Giuliano Poletti, Italian Minister for Employment and Social Policy. The European Commission will be represented by László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. There will be an informal discussion of the proposed Maternity Leave Directive at the Ministers’ lunch, where the Commission will be represented by Martine Reicherts, European Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights.

European Platform on undeclared work

The Council will seek to reach a ‘general approach’ on the Commission’s April 2014 proposal for a European Platform to enhance cooperation in the prevention and deterrence of undeclared work (see IP/14/387). The Platform would bring together various national enforcement bodies involved in the fight against undeclared work.

Commissioner László Andor will urge the Council to reach agreement on a ‘general approach’. He will stress that, after the successful adoption of the Enforcement Directive on the Posting of Workers on 13 May 2014 (see IP/14/542 and MEMO/14/344), this proposal demonstrates how the EU can contribute to tackling ‘social dumping’, and in particular the scourge of undeclared work, which deprives workers of social protection, puts their health and safety at risk and lowers labour standards. It also undermines fair competition for businesses and endangers the sustainability of public finances and social security systems. The Commissioner will welcome support for the proposal to make participation in the platform compulsory for all Member States, given that undeclared work has a cross-border dimension which could have a negative impact on the functioning of the Single Market, as abuses by unscrupulous employers distort competition. The Commissioner will stress that it is essential that all Member States actively participate in the new Platform’s activities.

Mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy and evaluation of the European Semester

The Council will hold a policy debate on the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy and evaluation of the European Semester in the context of the review of the so-called “Six Pack” Directives and Regulation on fiscal and macroeconomic surveillance. Following the discussion, the Council is due to endorse a joint opinion of the Employment (EMCO) and Social Protection (SPC) Committees on the future of the Strategy and the European Semester.

Commissioner Andor will emphasise that progress on employment and social objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy is paramount for achieving social cohesion, growth and competitiveness. He will stress that the European Semester provides the governance framework for policy guidance and implementation of reforms at national and EU levels. Commissioner Andor will also emphasise that the mid-term review of the European 2020 Strategy must be supported by investment in human capital and should be coupled to a more systemic reflection on the reconstruction of Economic and Monetary Union, notably its social dimension and solidarity mechanisms.

Andor will invite the Council and Committees to take stock of policies developed by the Commission since 2012 – the Employment Package, the Youth Employment Package and the Social Investment Package – in the upcoming revision of Employment Guidelines, and to strengthen the preventive role of the Scoreboard of key employment and social indicators in the European Semester.

The Council is due to endorse the Social Protection Committee report on “Review of recent social policy reforms for fair and competitive Europe 2014”. This report focuses on the most recent social policy reforms over the period 2013-2014 and, specifically, looks into the extent to which European social protection systems are prepared to address the specific needs of young people out of the labour market.

Commissioner Andor will welcome the report as a timely contribution to the monitoring of social protection policies and reforms at EU level. He will underline the report’s contribution to the discussions on the exclusion of certain young people from the labour market from the point of view of social protection provisions and will call for further examination in this area. The Commission will take the report’s proposals for short term EU social policy priorities into account when preparing the 2015 Annual Growth Survey.

Forced labour

Commissioner Andor is due to urge the Council to agree as soon as possible the Commission’s proposal to authorise Member States to ratify the new ILO Forced Labour Protocol, approved by the International Labour Conference in June (IP/14/669). The proposal to authorise ratification was presented by the Commission on 11 September 2014 (IP/14/995).

Commissioner Andor will urge Member States to ratify the Protocol before the end of 2016. He will stress that by ratifying the new ILO standards on Forced Labour, Member States will contribute to preventing modern day forms of forced labour, improve protection and compensation for its victims and enhance international cooperation.


The Council will take note of a progress report on negotiations on the Commission’s proposal to improve the EURES job search network (IP/14/26 and MEMO/14/22). The initiative will further develop the tool to provide more job offers, increase the likelihood of job matches and help employers, notably small and medium businesses, to fill job vacancies faster and better.

Commissioner Andor will stress that Europe needs a true European placement and recruitment tool. He will underline that a stronger network of European employment services will make the matching processes more efficient and will help people and companies across Europe to make the most out of the economic potential of labour mobility. Commissioner Andor will urge the Council to reach agreement as soon as possible.

EU budget – impact on ESF implementation

Commissioner Andor will inform the Council about the EU’s current budgetary situation.

During 2014, the European Social Fund (ESF) situation has worsened considerably due to the EU budget payment shortages: the ESF has a budget of €9.8 billion while facing claims of €16.39 billion, meaning that it will have to postpone €6.59 billion of payments to 2015. If this amount is indeed rolled over to 2015, it will absorb more than 89% of the ESF budget planned for 2015. This “snowball effect” means that the Commission will not be able to reimburse the 2015’s payment claims of the Member States within the regulatory deadline and, without budgetary reinforcements in 2015, Member States will need to wait for reimbursement until 2016.

Commissioner Andor will stress that these delays affect the implementation of key national reforms relying on financial support under the ESF, such as the Youth Guarantee. He will underline that late payments by the Commission will have a direct impact on beneficiaries by putting constraints on their cash flow. Commissioner Andor will call upon the Council and the European Parliament to provide the necessary extra payment credits to address these financial difficulties, including for the ESF.

G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial meeting

Commissioner Andor will report to the Council on the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting in September, noting that the Commission and the five G20 Member States secured important references in the Declaration to Youth Guarantee schemes, social dialogue, female employment, and health and safety at work. Commissioner Andor will note that the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November will reflect the Labour and Employment Ministers’ recommendations on creating more and better jobs and lifting employment and participation, especially for women and young people. Commissioner Andor will welcome the fact that the G20 monitoring process has moved closer to the EU’s approach on policy guidance and surveillance through the European Semester. He will also underline that the reference to the Youth Guarantee in the G20 Labour Ministers’ Declaration recognises the EU’s pioneering efforts to address youth employment and increases pressure on the EU to deliver on the Youth Guarantee.

Tripartite Social Summit

The Council is also due to discuss preparation of the Tripartite Social Summit on Growth and Employment that will take place ahead of the Autumn European Council on 23 October. The Tripartite Social Summit will focus on stimulating investment to create more jobs and deliver on the Europe 2020 Strategy. Commissioner Andor will stress the importance of human capital investment that should support the entire European economy and its competitiveness and recall the importance of mutually supportive policies to support the Europe 2020 objectives. He will urge Ministers and social partners to develop an integrated framework to support job creation in the green economy following the lines of the Green Employment Initiative adopted by the Commission in July 2014 (IP/14/765, MEMO/14/446). Commissioner Andor will also reiterate the necessity to give European and national social partners an enhanced role in EU economic governance.

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