Diversity Card(13)

EPSCO – Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs meet in Brussels

The ministers met in Brussels on 6-7th December 2018 to discuss a number of files. The directive on work-life balance for parents and carers was on the agenda, in the form of an update by the Austrian Presidency on the progress in the trilogues with the European Parliament and European Commission.

The highlights include:

  • Adoption of the Joint Report on Employment accompanying the Annual Growth Survey 2019
  • Implementation of a Council recommendation on long-term unemployment
  • A political agreement on a proposal for a Council recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed.
  • A joint declaration on gender equality as a priority of the European Union today and in the future.
  • A progress report on the directive on equal treatment.

The adopted Joint Report on Employment uses indicators of the EU social scoreboard to measure and report on progress in Member States. The report concludes there is unequal access to quality and affordable childcare and long-term care services, which contributes to the negative effect of parenthood on the employment of women.  As shown by the Social Scoreboard headline indicator on participation in formal childcare, in 2016 around 33% of children aged 0 to 3 were enrolled in formal childcare. This means that the Barcelona target on the availability of (high quality and affordable) childcare facilities for children in this age group has been nominally reached. However, major differences persist among countries. While in Denmark the enrolment rate stood at 70% and in Portugal, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Netherlands at around 50%, in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Greece it was well below 10% (the latter countries, together with Bulgaria, are flagged as “critical situations”). In these Member States, lack of formal childcare arrangements also translates into poor labour market outcomes for women (in all of them the gender employment gap is above the EU average and parenthood has a negative impact on employment rates). In 2017, 21.6% of women with caring responsibilities in the EU were inactive or worked part-time due to a lack of childcare and long-term care services. In Greece, Spain, Croatia and Cyprus this share was well above 50%, reaching a record high in Romania and Latvia (above 89%).

See more on the Council website.

The next meetings of the EPSCO will take place on 15th March 2019 and 13th June 2019 under the Romanian presidency of the EU.