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The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament are the EU’s co-legislators. In a legal sense, the Council is a single body but it meets in various constellations (Council formations) that discuss and adopt the initiatives of the EU Commission in their policy fields. The crucial Council for the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, EPSCO for short. The competent EU ministers usually meet four times a year. But if needed, it is possible to convene additional informal meetings.

Generally speaking, the EU’s employment and social policies aim to improve the living standard and the quality of life of EU citizens. This includes high-quality jobs and a high level of social protection.

The EPSCO meetings then work on legal provisions fostering these goals. For example, the EPSCO is dealing with a draft Directive for adequate minimum wages in the EU proposed by the EU Commission that was published in November 2020. It aims to establish bottom levels if collective bargaining coverage and social partnership in the EU prove to be too weak. Topics such as the protection of workers against carcinogens at work or the fight against youth unemployment also feature regularly on the ministers’ agenda.

The Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee support the ministers in their work.

The Employment Committee regularly brings together experts for employment and labour-market policy questions from the labour and social policy ministries of the EU member states. For example, the committee analyses the labour market situation in the EU and discusses member states’ labour market policies. It issues reports or recommendations that are then submitted to the EPSCO.

The Social Protection Committee consists of representatives of the public administrations of EU member states and the European Commission. It advises EPSCO ministers and for example prepares reports or comments on the social situation in the EU member states.

Click here for more information on the EPSCO and initiatives of the current presidency.