Social priorities of the Lithuanian EU Presidency
On July 1, Lithuania took up the Presidency of the European Council for the next six months. The overarching theme for this Presidency is "A credible, growing and open Europe". In its Work Programme, Lithuania commits itself to contributing to the well-being of all European citizens and to making the European and economic and social model more solid. In this article, we highlight some of the points in the Work Programme related to our work.
Social Dimension of the EMU
One of the priorities of Lithuania is to continue the discussions under the Irish Presidency on the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union. Taking into account the decisions of the European Council in June, Lithuania is planning to have informal discussions on this subject. We however hope, that the Presidency will go beyond a mere exchange of thoughts, and that concrete actions will be put forward to strengthen this dimension (Read also our letter to the Council on the social dimension of the EMU).
With regards to promoting sustainable growth and reducing social exclusion, Lithuania has put forward the implementation of the Social Investment Package as one of its priorities, with a specific focus on investing in children. We already had the opportunity to discuss our position on this topic at the informal EPSCO meeting in Vilnius last week (Read also our news on this meeting)
In the field of employment, the Presidency will dedicate its main attention to improving employment opportunities for young people through the implementation of the Youth Guarantee Initiative. Next to this, they will discuss the rights of workers, and in particular their rights when moving around the EU.
Fundamental Rights and Equality
The Lithuanian Presidency has committed to “discuss the enhancement of fundamental rights in the EU, including the necessity to foster a collective historical memory” and particularly work on the following dossiers:
- On equal treatment of men and women Lithuania “will seek to address the effectiveness of institutional mechanisms (—) Lithuania will host a minister-level conference in Vilnius and expects to adopt Council conclusions” as well as continue the negotiations on the Directive to improve the gender balance for women on boards. We will follow-up with a meeting with the Director of the Euorpean Institute for Gender Equality by the second half of 2013.
- On non-discrimination the Presidency will “seek progress as regards the non-discrimination Directive” and propose the approval of the Commission “Roma integration package” when submitted by the Commission. On July 2 we made a statement on the 5 year anniversary of the Equal treatment directive.
On migration Lithuania will seek to complete negotiations with the European Parliament and adopt the Directive on seasonal workers. They will also work on the negotiations of the Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of research, studies, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training, voluntary service and au pairing. The Presidency will also work on the establishment and implementation of migration mobility partnerships. Finally they will “promote more straight-forward use of the rights granted by free movement of workers … to combat national-based discrimination”. On these issues we have developed recommendations that you can find in our position on www.socialplatform.org/migration.
Social dimension of the internal market
The Presidency will pay attention to the completion of the Single Market Act I and make progress on the Single Market Act II priorities. Among the priorities that are relevant for Social Platform: the promotion of mobility of citizens and enterprises; social entrepreneurship; and cohesion (cohesion refers to the proposal for a directive on bank accounts, even if in the programme there is no explicit reference to this dossier). The Presidency will also continue to work to achieve agreement on the public procurement package. Public procurement is mentioned as a tool to be used by public administrations in order to promote innovation; it is a pity that its potential to promote social and societal policy goals is not given the emphasis it should have.
In the field of health, the Presidency will urge the adopting of Council conclusions on “modern, responsive and sustainable health systems”. The conclusions should include the implementation of the objectives under the Europe 2020 strategy in the health field, effective investment in the health sector and the use of structural funds, innovation and integrated care models.
In relation to the work that we are going to develop with the Spring Alliance, it is relevant for us to monitor the work of the Presidency concerning the implementation of the internal energy market, energy taxation, and the financial transaction tax.
Social dimension of the EU budget
The Presidency will continue discussions with the European Parliament on specific legislation implementing the Multi-annual financial framework with the aim that it enters into force in January 2014.