The Social Protection Committee (SPC) will focus the majority of its efforts over 2006 on analysing and discussing the first reports on national social protection and social inclusion strategies. 2006 being the final year of the current programme on combating social exclusion, the Committee will aim to ensure a smooth transition to the new Progress programme which will run from 2007 to 2013. Guidelines should be finalised towards the end of March with a seminar due to be staged in Brussels on 30-31 March.
The member states are meanwhile due to present their first comprehensive reports on national strategies in all three areas by 15 September. The pensions chapter of these reports should be less weighty this year - having been the object of developments in 2005 - whereas the chapter on inclusion will be more substantial. The chapter on health and long-term care should meanwhile focus on the exchange of good practices. An in-depth debate is scheduled for November, pending a document from the Commission in 2007 on long-term care.
Regarding pensions in particular, the SPC should continue to work on income-substitution benefits and, on the basis of Commission documents, debate the definition of minimum social provisions (pensions and other benefits for the retired), poverty among the aged and the link between retirement age flexibility and a longer working life. The sub-committee on indicators will continue its work notably on child poverty, material privation, social inclusion and health. …