Latvian EU Presidency social priorities
On 1 January, Latvia took over the Presidency of the EU Council for six months. For the new Presidency, it is important that Europe works for the best interests of its people, to promote their well-being and safety. Three overarching priorities are set: Competitive Europe, Digital Europe and Engaged Europe.
We had a look at the Presidency work programme and their social priorities relating to our work:
- Focus on disability ‘from the medical model to the social model’, including a high level event focusing on the rights of children with disabilities and labour market participation (May, Riga).
- Examining the proposal for a horizontal Anti-discrimination Directive (irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation).
- Priorities female labour market participation and prepare Council conclusions on the gender gap in pensions.
- Work on the Commission’s proposal for a directive to improve the gender balance on company boards.
Services, social economy and social enterprises
- It is stated that only by developing competitive industry and service sectors can Europe facilitate job creation and promote social cohesion. The Presidency intends to make progress on the remaining proposals of the Single Market Act II and to launch discussions on the expected Internal Market Strategy for goods and services.
- There are no specific measures to ensure the social dimension of the single market. There is no mention at all of social economy and social enterprises, which have been a priority for the previous Commission and the Italian Presidency.
- The Presidency commits to fast-tracking procedures in the Council on the Investment Plan for Europe, aimed at unlocking public and private investments in the real economy.
- Strengthening the digital single market is another priority, which includes digitalisation of the public sector to make it more efficient and innovative; attention will also be devoted to web accessibility.
- The Presidency is committed to strengthening the transatlantic partnership with the aim of concluding the negotiations on TTIP by the end of 2015.
- The Presidency commits to ensuring that all the preconditions are in place to pave the way for the smooth start of the new operational programmes in the field of cohesion policy, an important instrument to reduce social and economic disparities and contribute to growth and employment.
- A priority will be the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework and Investment Plan-related amendments to the EU Budget for 2015.
- The Presidency will continue work on the revision of the financial regulation to align it with the new public procurement directive.
Employment and Social Affairs
- Latvia is committing itself to remain ambitious in achieving the targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy. This will be the objective of both their work on the 2015 European Semester as well as on the mid-term review of the Strategy.
- A key focus of the Presidency will be on inclusive and sustainable labour market participation, with increased attention being paid to job quality and long-term employment.
- Regarding the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union, the strengthening of its social dimension is also on the agenda of the EPSCO Council, but with a focus on social dialogue. However, we hope the Presidency will also broaden this to civil dialogue.
- It is furthermore stated that attention will be paid to the monitoring and development of social protection policies, with a particular focus on deinstitutionalisation.
- The Investment Plan of Commission President Juncker will be further developed in the context of Economic and Financial Affairs, but we hope that also its social dimension and implications will be looked at.
- 17 March, Brussels: Europe 2020 Strategy mid-term review and European Semester 2015; (poss.) Proposal on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (Investment Plan for Europe); (poss.) MFF 2014-2020.
- 21 April, Luxembourg: (poss.)Europe 2020 Strategy mid-term review and European Semester 2015.
- 23 June, Luxembourg: Country-Specific Recommendations 2015.
- 12-13 March, Brussels: (poss) state-of-play on the accession of the EU to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
- 15-16 June, Luxembourg: (poss) Council conclusions on the Implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights; Presentation of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights Annual Report; (poss) exchange of views on the EU accession to the ECHR.
- 9 March, Brussels: Europe 2020 Strategy: Mid-term review; Annual Growth Survey 2015 and Joint Employment Report; SPC report on the social situation in the EU; SPC-EPC report on social protection systems; Conclusions on inclusive labour markets.
- 18 June, Luxembourg: Progress report on the horizontal Anti-discrimination Directive; Council conclusions on Gender Gap in Pension; Country-Specific Recommendations 2015, (poss) Progress report on the Women on Boards Directive proposal.
- 27 January, Brussels: Proposal on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (Investment Plan for Europe).
- 17 February, Brussels: European Fund for Strategic Investments.
- 10 March, Brussels: (poss.) European Fund for Strategic Investments; Review Europe 2020 Strategy.
- 12 May, Brussels: (poss.) European Fund for Strategic Investments.
- 19 June, Brussels: Country-Specific Recommendations 2015.