Letter from the Parliamentary Secretary
at the Department for Work and Pensions (Mr Malcolm Wicks) to
the Chairman of the Committee
EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL POLICY COUNCIL: 8 OCTOBER
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
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
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
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
I am copying this letter to Alan Johnson and the
Clerk of the Scrutiny Committee.