The Minister set out five clear priorities: youth employment, the social dimension of Economic and Monetary Union, reducing poverty and social exclusion, the social economy and green growth. These were largely supported and welcomed by the various political groups in the committee, with the exception of the Eurosceptic faction.
While youth employment remains a priority area, the Minister was careful to point out that this would not distract the Presidency from addressing the issue on increasing women’s participation in the labour market and other issues of gender equality.
On strengthening the social dimension of the EU, the Minister demonstrated that Italy was keen on deepening the political debate, with a first discussion on automatic stabilisers (a potential minimum income scheme) taking place between Labour Ministers and social partners in the recent The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO).
On the issue of the European Semester, the Minister said that Italy wanted a more ‘functional European Semester’ with Member States taking more ownership, with the promotion of surveillance and sharing information, while at the same time thinking about incentives and about the timescale the Semester is focused around.
Among other things, the Minister touched upon tackling undeclared work, which currently has harmful effects on public budgets, working conditions and social dumping, and addressed how the EU can continue to promote labour mobility through the EURES, the European Jobs Network.
Mr Poletti also explained how the European Parliament can better engage in the programme of the Italian Presidency. For the Minister, the Parliament is there to give direction, to promote a climate of dialogue and to engage different bodies in this dialogue, including civil society, trade unions and citizens.
The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU member states every six months. During this six-month period, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping to ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council. Latvia will take over the presidency from January 2015.
© European Parliament: Thomas Händel, chair of the EMPL committee, and Giuliano Poletti, Labour minister in Italy.