15 January 2024

Belgian presidency hosts meeting of Employment and Social Affairs Ministers

On 11 and 12 January, the Belgian presidency of the EU Council hosted the informal meeting of Employment and Social Affairs Ministers in Namur, Belgium.

Ministers discussed pertinent issues for Ceemet, among them, the future of the European Pillar of Social Rights, labour shortages and access to social protection. Discussions on the Platform Workers Directive and the revision of the Regulation on social security coordination also featured prominently during the meeting and subsequent press engagements.

It is clear that the Belgian Presidency has the intention to strengthen Social Europe and the European Pillar of Social Rights. Furthermore, the Belgian Presidency communicated its ambition to reach a successful outcome on the Platform Workers Directive. While Ceemet supports a well-balanced text of the Directive, we recall the importance of safeguarding genuine self-employment and ensuring legal certainty. The Belgian presidency will also endeavour to find an agreement on the revision of the Regulation on social security coordination. On this dossier, Ceemet  emphasises the need for the rapid adoption of the revised EU rules as the proposal has now been on the table form more than 7 years.  When it comes to social protection, the tech & industry employers advocate for the initiative which would ensure an access to social protection for all the employees.

In relation to labour shortages, the quickly tightening labour market across Europe today continues to be the number one problem for MET companies. For Ceemet there is no one-size-fits-all solution to labour shortages but a wide variety of approaches. However, the right to training is not a solution to deal with increasing labour shortages. Undoubtedly, Ceemet strongly advocates for decisionmakers throughout Europe to support the re-skilling and up-skilling of the MET industries’ workforce. It is indeed crucial for workers to undergo continuous training throughout their careers to remain employable and acquire the skills aligned with the twin transition. In this context, Ceemet believes that providing counselling and advice especially for low-skilled workers of the type of training they should undergo, is a key tool to boost training participation. Moreover, making training more attractive, leveraging new online tools, and enhancing overall accessibility are crucial aspects of this effort. Companies also face their own issues when it comes to investing in employee training, in particular SMEs. It is for this reason that Ceemet is fully convinced that SMEs should receive adequate support in order to develop right-skilling schemes adapted to the needs of labour markets.

Ceemet stands ready to work with the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council to establish a European agenda that delivers on the expectations of citizens and provides the right framework to maintain a competitive and social industry at the heart of the European economy.