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EU-ministers discuss unemployment security, health programme and growth strategy

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 1.12.2011 8.22
Press release -

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) meets in Brussels on 1-2 December. Finland is represented in the meeting by Minister of Social Affairs and Health Paula Risikko, Minister of Health and Social Services Maria Guzenina-Richardson and Minister of Employment Lauri Ihalainen.

The ministers for social affairs deal with a Presidency proposal, according to which the most recent country of employment will be daily unemployment benefit for an unemployed entrepreneur if he or she does not have an unemployment insurance in the country of residence. The procedure would only apply to the so called frontier workers that reside in one country and work in another.

The issue has been on the Council agenda for a long time now, and there have been some principled problems from the Finnish viewpoint. The Council decides the matter by a majority vote. Finland is prepared to adopt a compromise that now has been reached where the Finnish views are taken into account better than before.

The health ministers adopt the Council conclusions on chronic respiratory disease in children, communication disorders in children and health gaps. Moreover, the health ministers discuss the Commission Proposal for a new Health for Growth Programme 2014-2020.

Finland commends the Commission Proposal for clearly recognising the link between health and economy. A healthy population is a condition for productivity, and when the economy is in shape, it is possible to invest in health. Finland hopes, however, that the programme would highlight more strongly also the traditional measures under the EU public health article, such as health promotion in all policies.

The ministers of employment discuss the implementation of the European growth strategy, i.e., Europe 2020 Strategy, in the field of employment and social policy in view of the European Council meeting in December. The implementation of the strategy is followed up through the European Semester. The Council adopts conclusions on the follow-up of the first European Semester and thematic surveillance in employment and social policies. Finland believes that the ministers of employment and social affairs must play a key role in the follow-up of the European Semester in these sectors. It is also important that the Member States commit themselves to the set targets for employment and poverty reduction. The topic for the Council lunch is youth unemployment. Finland emphasises the importance of effective implementation of a social guarantee for young people.

The ministers will also seek agreement on extending the higher level of assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund until the end of 2013. Finland will seek a compromise that all the Member States can accept by proposing that the higher level of assistance will be continued until the end of 2012.

Further information

Liisa Heinonen, Ministerial Counsellor/Legal Affairs, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, tel. +358 50 396 0605
Merja Huovinen, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 50 364 7816
Tuomas Leppo, Senior Officer, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 50 575 2996

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