Social Policy : 2020 Plan to Top Belgian Agenda
Despite much political will, Belgium's EU Presidency will not be dominated by social policy issues. No major European Commission initiatives are expected before 2011, be they about revision of the Working Time Directive or the Posting of Workers Directive. There are just three draft directives in the legislative pipeline. These cover maternity leave, assisting spouses and discrimination. But little progress is expected on any of them.
The first, which would put in place measures to improve the health and safety of workers who are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breast-feeding (amend. Directive 92/85/EEC), is currently frozen. Before taking a position in plenary, the Parliament is waiting for the results of an impact analysis assessing the costs/advantages of lengthening maternity leave to 20 weeks of fully paid leave and the introduction of paternity leave. This report was initially expected to arrive a few weeks after the vote in the parliamentary committee, but is now not expected until October. The second proposal, on equal treatment between men and women working freelance, was agreed at the Transport Council, on 24 June without debate, as amended, at second reading. As for the directive on the fight against discrimination based on religion, disability, age or sexual orientation, no agreement is expected during the Belgian Presidency since member states have not managed to agree on the scope of the future legislation.
FIVE KEY POINTS
No major proposal underway is likely to be finalised. Instead, the main social policy objective for the Belgian Presidency will be to put in place the strategy for growth and jobs, Europe 2020', and its main initiatives. A key one on youth in movement' is set to come out in September, while two others, which are considered as social', namely the platform for poverty' and new competences for new jobs', are due to emerge before the end of 2010. …