Select Committee on European Scrutiny Second Report

Letter from the Parliamentary Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions (Mr Malcolm Wicks) to the Chairman of the Committee


I am writing to inform the Committee of the outcome of the Employment and Social Policy Council (ESPC) held in Luxembourg on 8 October 2001. I represented the UK together with Alan Johnson, the Minister of State for Employment relations and Regions at the DTI.

At this meeting, the Council finally adopted the Regulation for a Statute of the European Company and an accompanying Directive governing employee involvement, after 30 years of negotiation.

Council also discussed this year's Autumn Package of Employment measures, alongside a debate on quality in work. Council largely welcomed the Commission's approach to the Package, which will now be negotiated in detail within the Employment Committee and the Council's working group. The debate on quality in work focused on current work, in the light of the mandate of the Stockholm European Council, to develop a range of indicators. The UK supported proposals for further technical work to be done on by the Employment Committee.

The Council also debated certain aspects of the Commission's proposal to simplify regulation 1408/71, which provides for the co-ordination of Member States' social security systems in respect of people moving within the Community. In the light of the Stockholm Conclusions, the Council is due to agree parameters for the modernisation of the regulation by the end of the year. A number of issues remain to be resolved.

Council was presented with two progress reports from the Social Protection Committee, one on commonly agreed indicators on social inclusion and the other on quality and sustainability of pensions. Both these issues will be discussed again at the ESPC on 3 December, in preparation for the Laeken European Council.

The Commission presented its Communication on core labour standards over lunch, in the presence of the Council and the social partners. The UK broadly welcomed the content, but expressed reservations about the Commission's ideas on the General System of Preferences, arguing against an approach based on sanctions or penalties.

Two other agenda items were remitted to the 3 December ESPC: a Decision establishing the Year of disabled people in 2003 and a Presidency report on civil mediation.

The Council adopted a Resolution on e-inclusion without debate.

I am copying this letter to Alan Johnson and the Clerk of the Scrutiny Committee.

October 2001

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 2 November 2001