CESI SOC/FEMM-Commissions discuss the future direction of EU employment and gender equality policies

Today, CESI's Commissions on Employment and Social Affairs Commission (SOC) and Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) convened for their first meeting of the year in Brussels. As CESI's most important members' committees for deliberation and positioning on horizontal aspects of EU employment, gender equality and social policy, the meetings saw orientation debates on the major topics that will be worked on during 2016.

CESI SOC/FEMM-Commissions discuss the future direction of EU employment and gender equality policies

Discussions centred around three major topics: The impacts of digitalisation on employment, working life and trade unionism, the EU’s agenda concerning labour mobility, occupational health and safety, working time and the recently announced European pillar of social rights, and the EU’s current work-life balance and gender equality priorities.

Digitalisation: A major challenge for trade unions

A keynote intervention on the topic ‘Impacts of digitalisation on employment, working life, and trade unionism’ was given by Agnes Parent-Thirion from the Working Conditions and Industrial Relations Unit at Eurofound. Her intervention made clear just how profound the implications of digitalistion are and will be on the different forms of employment, working conditions as well as on collective bargaining and trade union membership. Digitalisation will be one of the core priorities for CESI to work on during 2016.

European Commission: A full agenda in employment and social affairs

Stefan Olsson, Director ‘Employment’ at the European Commission, spoke about the political priorities of the European Commission for 2016 in the field of employment and social affairs. He referred in particular to the Commission’s work on the Labour mobility package, plans for a New skills agenda for Europe and the ongoing REFIT-analyses of the EU’s occupational health and safety acquis, the Written statement directive and the European works council directive. He also outlined the Commission’s plans to develop an entirely new European pillar of social rights and underlined the role that the trade unions and social partners should play its development and implementation. CESI will concentrate its work in particular on aspects related to labour mobility, occupational health and safety and the development of the Pillar of social rights. 

An unclear future: The EU’s work-life balance and gender equality agenda

A further debate took place on ‘Work-life balance and gender equality priorities beyond the withdrawn maternity leave proposal’. This discussion was informed by interventions of MEP Arne Gericke, member of the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, and Paolo Panzeri, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at the Confederation of Family Organisations in the EU (COFACE). Both explained their view of the Commission’s recent withdrawal of its Maternity leave directive proposal and the subsequent publication of a Roadmap ‘New start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families’. Given that the roadmap is still to unfold into concrete proposals and measures in 2016, CESI will work to further specify its priorities and bring them to the EU institutions.

Note: CESI’s SOC and FEMM Commissions are separate entities with their own agenda and presidency but are composed of the same members and meet jointly, usually twice a year. Visit the SOC-FEMM section on CESI’s website for further information.