On 1 January 2024, Belgium took over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, in particularly challenging times for our industries.
The Belgian presidency already announced that their agenda will be influenced by the evolution of the Ukraine war and the upcoming EU elections. The Belgian presidency will also have the task of finalising the work of the current institutional cycle which will end in June 2024. Their presidency will follow six main priorities:
- Defending rule of law, democracy, and unity
- Strengthening EU competitiveness
- Pursuing a green and just transition
- Reinforcing our social and health agenda
- Protecting people and borders
- Promoting a global Europe
The Belgian presidency have suggested that they will have a strong focus on the social agenda during their leadership of the EU Council. Based on recent declarations regarding this legislative agenda, Ceemet expressed concerns about its overly social nature, addressing issues such as psychosocial risks at work, right to training, and information and consultation rights.
Despite the fact that the Belgian presidency announced to “deliver a labour market equipped for the future”, it also declared that it would seek to complete the important remaining files before the close of the current legislature. Yet, the current files such as the Platform Work Directive and Corporate Due diligence do not take into account the real situation of the different labour markets across Europe, the several crises and difficulties faced by EU companies and run counter to the subsidiarity principle.
As EU competitiveness is also a priority for the new presidency, Ceemet is ready to support the work of the presidency and the EU institutions to achieve this goal and also the objectives to ensure the digital and green transitions. Ceemet will continue to participate in expert groups such as the one to ensure the transition of the automotive and transport industries, especially regarding the skills shortages that those industries are facing.
Ceemet supports the Belgian presidency in its plans to “strengthen the European education area, enhance the quality of education, and promote lifelong learning. This plan aims to ease mobility for learners and educators across Europe and initiates discussions on the forthcoming higher education package.” Ceemet explained that it’s crucial to make a strong focus on STEM and attract youth and women in this field. MET members call for an effective VET system and support for companies to invest in up-skilling and re-skilling of workers, especially for SMEs.
MET employers stand ready to play their part in helping the Belgian presidency achieve their goals to improve the lives of workers and facilitate the operations of MET companies.