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PES Ministers Discuss New Social Policy Momentum

On 15 October in Luxembourg, PES Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs met ahead of the EPSCO Council to discuss the new European Commission mandate. The Ministers expressed their continued commitment to a renewed focus on social policy and social dialogue in the next five years.

Nicolas Schmit, Chairperson of the PES Social and Employment Ministers Network, said: “We are happy that the Commission’s designated 1st Vice-President Frans Timmermans explicitly committed to assess the social impact of any Commission proposals. This is exactly the type of change in mindset that is needed and that our political family can bring to the new Commission. The beginning of this new mandate for the European institutions is a unique opportunity for Europe to become once again the role model for social and fair policy.”

Also on the agenda for the Council meeting was a proposed cooperation to prevent and deter undeclared work across Europe. PES Ministers support this approach as a useful tool to avoid exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers, who often use undeclared work as a way to undercut minimum wage requirements and social protections for vulnerable workers.

Ministers debated the employment and social exclusion targets of the Europe 2020 strategy as part of its mid-term review process, setting out their vision of how to better achieve the targets. Nicolas Schmit added that “the social and employment indicators in Europe are still unacceptable. This is a direct result of the austerity-only policies of the past. The review of the Europe 2020 strategy must be the beginning of a fundamental rethink. The social dimension has to be put back at the heart of the European project, with common minimum standards, and with clear and binding social targets to reduce unemployment, to reduce the gender paygap and to reduce inequalities.”

Ministers also discussed legislative work which remains unfinished, including the Maternity Leave Directive, an important priority for PES Women. The Commission, Parliament and Council must decide together which legislation to pursue, and which proposals should be abandoned. The PES is strongly committed to pursuing work on the Maternity Leave Directive, and will be calling for this proposal to be maintained and discussed further in the coming months.

Zita Gurmai, PES Women President sent a video message of support for the proposal to the Ministers.

For more information about the Maternity Leave Directive, you can find via the link below a video by our colleagues in the S&D Group in the European Parliament: http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/channel/saving-maternity-leave-directive

The meeting was also attended: by Branislav Ondrus, State Secretary for the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Slovakia; Mirando Mrsić, Minister for Labour and Pension System, Croatia; Michaela Marksová-Tominová, Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Czech Republic; Romain Schneider, Minister for Social Security, Luxembourg; François Rebsamen, Minister for Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue, France; Thomas Dominique, Chairman of the Social Protection Committee, Ministry of Social Security, Luxembourg; Ylva Johansson, Minister for Labour Market, Sweden; Anja Kopač Mrak, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Slovenia;Kevin Humphreys, Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, Ireland; László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion; Pervenche Berès MEP, Maria Joao Rodrigues MEP and Jutta Steinruck MEP.

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