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Meetings Calendar 2006
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Background information

 

The European Union and its Member States currently face a number of great challenges in the areas of employment and social affairs. Globalisation, rapid technological developments, social change and the demographic trend are having far-reaching effects on European society. Therefore, the Austrian Presidency wishes to invite Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs to informal discussions in Villach from 19 to 21 January 2006 in order to make a contribution towards meeting these challenges. The informal meeting in Villach will be divided into two parts: employment policy and social policy.

Discussions on the employment policy will be held under the main heading of “flexicurity”. Based on the fundamental premise that corresponding social security is an essential prerequisite for flexibility on the employment markets, discussions will revolve around balancing the European Social Model with European competitiveness. Particular emphasis will be placed on an exchange of experiences regarding the integratability of a flexicuritybased approach into the national employment systems. Furthermore, common problem areas at EU level, arising from the consequences of the “new international division of labour” in relation to globalisation, will be discussed. To conclude, possible room for manoeuvre will be sought on common policies and fields of activity at EU level within the framework of the flexicurity approach.

The social policy part will deal with the social dimension of the new Lisbon Strategy. In the area of social protection and social inclusion, the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is currently being applied at European level in three areas:

  • OMC on social inclusion (since 2000);
  • OMC on pensions (“adequacy and long-term financing of pension systems”) (since 2001);
  • Initial application of the OMC on the future of the health system and long-term care (since 2004).

A decision was taken in 2003 to streamline the processes by 2006 in order to better coordinate them in the area of social affairs and to harmonize them correspondingly with the Lisbon Strategy. The task of the Austrian Presidency is to complete the streamlining and harmonize the processes with the new Lisbon Strategy.

Within this context, the discussion process for the European Social Model in the run-up to the informal EU summit meeting of heads of state and government at Hampton Court on 27 October 2005 and the results of the meeting will be considered. The discussion will be based on the Commission communication on the new common goals and work methods in the area of social protection and social inclusion. At the meeting of the Ministers for Social Affairs in Villach, the aim will be to continue discussions on how to optimize harmonization of the new Lisbon Strategy with the streamlined process in the area of social protection and social inclusion in order to further develop the European Social Model and gain wider acceptance for the European Union in the interests of European citizens.

 

Date: 17.02.2006