21 June 2024

Ceemet reacts to the final EPSCO meeting of the Belgian Presidency

On 20 June 2024, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss the critical issues impacting the EU’s social and economic landscape. The meeting brought together ministers from across the EU to discuss social topics impacting the competitiveness of MET companies.

Directive on European Works Councils

One of the main points on the agenda was the revision of the Directive on European Works Councils (EWC), where the Council agreed a general approach. Ceemet is very disappointed with the outcome since the text contains significant weaknesses, such as a vague definition of transnational matters and the obligation of the management to provide a reasoned written response to an opinion adopted by the EWC.

La Hulpe Declaration

Another issue addressed during the meeting was the La Hulpe Declaration which will provide input into the next EU strategic agenda for 2024-2029 and includes a clear message on the need for an ambitious social agenda. Along with Ceemet’s opposition to this initiative, it is important to recall that the La Hulpe Declaration was not formally adopted due to the opposition of Sweden and Austria.

Labour and Skills Policies

The Belgian Presidency referred to the closing event of the European Year of Skills that was held on 30 April 2024 where Ceemet, together with other EU sectoral employer organisations, organised a discussion session focused on addressing skill shortages. The Commission’s action plan on labour and skills shortages was also discussed. The Tech and industry employers broadly welcome this initiative and in our twofold capacity of employer organisation and sectoral social partner, stand ready to play our part in its implementation. Regarding traineeships, the Council took note of the progress report on the Directive on Traineeships and the Council recommendation on a reinforced quality framework for traineeships. This sensitive file will continue to be discussed during the next legislative term where Ceemet stands ready to engage.

Other issues addressed

The Council further discussed a progress report on the proposed directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons. The current compromise text, which incorporates all the specific concerns laid out in this proposal, does not yet enjoy unanimous approval as it is only supported by 24 Member States. The discussion on this file will thus continue during the next Council Presidency.

The Commission presented the Spring Package of the European Semester during the meeting. They noted that we must not only focus on the fiscal issues and that for the first time there was a two-stage analysis of employment, skills and social challenges in each member state, based on the revised Social Scoreboard and the principles of a Social Convergence Framework. From a Ceemet perspective, we feel we must begin by ensuring we are on a solid fiscal footing, following this we can ensure the flourishing of our social market economy.