On the 11 and 12 January, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union organised a significant gathering - the informal EPSCO meeting. This meeting brought together key players, including Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs from the 27 member states, EFTA countries, Ukraine and Moldova, Commissioner Schmit, the European Parliament, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the social partners as well as the Social Platform. Their collective mission was to discuss the implementation of social policies in the European Union ahead of the upcoming European elections scheduled for June 6-9, 2024.
In this event, CECOP attended as part of the Social Platform delegation, represented by Secretary General Diana Dovgan, and had the chance to participate in the three main breakout sessions on labour shortages, access to social protection, and the provision of social services.
Throughout the meeting, Member States and the ILO explored diverse subjects, such as the EU's role in the Global Coalition for Social Justice, a dedicated space for political action and initiatives toward social justice, and decent work. Furthermore, discussions focused on social convergence and better integration of fiscal policies in the Social Pillar.
The meeting was a great opportunity for the delegation to engage with ministers and representatives from Romania, Latvia, Italy, Spain, and France. CECOP took this opportunity to address key issues such as the transposition of the Platform Work Directive and the implementation of the Council recommendation on social economy framework conditions.
The discussions during the EPSCO also revealed a collective agreement among ministers on the central role the Social Pillar should play in the years ahead. The outcomes of this meeting will serve as valuable input for the interinstitutional declaration at the La Hulpe conference on the European Pillar of Social Rights, set to take place on the 15 and 16 of April.
This commitment towards a more robust Social Europe is particularly encouraging as the EU elections approach. Finally, there are strong expectations toward the upcoming EPSCO and ECOFIN meeting, often referred to as the "JUMBO Council," scheduled for March 2024.