The first session of the Formal Council of the 27 European Union Ministers for Employment and Social Policy, in which the Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, also took part, focussed its attention on strengthening active labour-market policies in order to achieve the goals set out for employment and protection.
For the first time, the Ministers discussed the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, and endorsed robust implementation, not just as a strong political message for citizens but also as a fundamental vertex of the joint capacity to make advances in social matters, while, at the same time, Member States and the European Union are assisted in emerging from the crisis.
For the Ministers, the Action Plan should be part of the basis of national recovery and resilience plans, setting the creation of qualifications and decent employment as a priority, to guarantee a fair, green and digital recovery. The Ministers declared unanimously that the European Semester is “the best instrument for monitoring the Member States’ social policies and it should be adapted to the new situation”.
The meeting also discussed setting up the European Platform on Homeless People: the Ministers undertook to create national measures in each Member State to prevent and anticipate situations that could lead to homelessness. Furthermore, on 21 June, the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be presenting a European platform that aims to allow Member States to share information and instruments that offer an effective and integrated response to the various aspects of this social issue. “The aim is to set up a platform to support Member States, cities and service providers in sharing good practice and finding efficient and innovative approaches,” stated Ana Mendes Godinho, Portuguese Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security.
The European Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was also one of the topics addressed at this second EPSCO of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which undertook to cast the spotlight on the topic by holding a High-Level Conference on 19 and 20 April and presenting the conclusions to the Council.
The Member States also agreed to review the indicator scoreboard for the European Pillar of Social Rights. This way, the Action Plan will allow more objective targets to be reached in the area of improving working and living circumstances in Europe, as there will be firm support for employment programmes, skills development, and the fight against poverty and social exclusion.