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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council configuration (EPSCO)

Council of the EU

The EPSCO Council works to increase employment levels and improve living and working conditions, ensuring a high level of human health and consumer protection in the EU.

How does the EPSCO Council work?

The EPSCO Council brings together ministers responsible for employment, social affairs, health and consumer policy from all EU member states. Relevant European Commissioners also participate in meetings.

There are usually four EPSCO meetings a year. Two of the meetings are generally devoted exclusively to employment and social policy topics.

About employment, social, health and consumer affairs policy

The overall objective of the EU action is to raise the standard of living and quality of life of its citizens, notably through high-quality jobs and a high level of social and health protection and the protection of consumers' interests.

In the fields of employment and social policy, the Council is responsible for drawing up annual employment guidelines which the member states take into account in their national policies. It also adopts legislation, together with the European Parliament, aimed at improving working conditions, social inclusion and gender equality.

While the member states have full responsibility for defining their health policies and for the organisation and delivery of healthcare, the Council adopts, together with the European Parliament, legislation relating to the quality and safety of human organs and blood, patients' rights in cross-border healthcare and the quality and safety of medicines and medical devices.

As regards consumer protection, the Council adopts, together with the European Parliament, EU-wide rules to protect the health and safety of consumers, as well as their economic interests.

Priorities of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council during the Slovak presidency

In the area of employment and social affairs, the Council will continue negotiations on the rules concerning the free movement of workers, the coordination of social security systems and the posting of workers. It will also focus on the revision of legislation aimed at improving the protection of workers from the risks related to carcinogens or mutagens. Another goal is to evaluate the effectiveness and results of the Youth Guarantee and to support the implementation of measures for Roma integration

In the health sector, ministers will discuss the revision of the current framework for medical devices and continue work on the procedures for the authorisation of medicinal products for human use and for veterinary use. They will also continue the debate on antimicrobial resistance, which is related to the high consumption of antibiotics in human medicine and in animal production. Finally, the Council will focus on promoting healthy lifestyles in the context of the prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases.