Informal European Council Meeting in France

IF – 02/2022

At the invitation of French Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne, EU social affairs ministers met at a special informal meeting in Bordeaux.

Within the framework of the French Council Presidency, the focus of the "Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Protection Council" was the transformation of the world of work. The debate focused on the effects from a labour market policy perspective as well as the influence of digitisation and ecological development.

Lifelong learning is indispensable

Ministers exchanged views on possible policy measures such as promoting skills development and training as well as support for professional transitions. Citizens must have the opportunity to further their education, retrain or acquire additional qualifications. This is essential in order not to overwhelm anyone with the changing world of work. Likewise, professional integration was discussed.

Implementation in partnership

In order to implement the ambitious goals, those present agreed that social dialogue should be intensified at national and European level. Cooperation on the part of employer and employee representatives is required. In the presence of the European collective bargaining partners, several MEPs as well as representatives of civil society and international organisations, the European ministers agreed to invest in qualification measures and to support professional transition phases.

Significant changes in the labour market

New jobs will be created, many will be cut back or will evolve to a higher level. These changes bring not only new skills requirement laid down by employers, but also the need to support vocational retraining of workers whose jobs have become insecure.

Skills more important than ever

The ministers also talked about how to create a fairer and more inclusive labour market. The European Skills Agenda could ensure that the right to education and lifelong learning becomes a reality in the EU. This right is set out in the European Pillar of Social Rights. Member States must bring skills improvement to the fore in policy-making. The debate could continue at the next Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting on 14 March 2022.