The social priorities for the Lithuanian EU Presidency
On 1 July Lithuania took over the Presidency of the European Council from Ireland and promised to focus its efforts on building “a credible, growing and open Europe.” The working programme of the Presidency has placed emphasis on promoting social cohesion and more sustainable social security through social investment and making youth a priority of the Lithuanian agenda.
The Presidency will aim to promote the implementation of the Social Investment Package, with a special emphasis on the investment in children in order to help break the cycle of disadvantage, and tackling poverty and social exclusion in the early years. Another priority will be the use of the European Social Fund to support Member States in this process, as the social investment approach will aim to “provide an adequate environment for economic growth and structural changes.” The Presidency will also start discussions with the European Parliament on securing the Fund for European Aid for the Most Deprived.
Employment with a focus on youth
The Lithuanians have promised to “dedicate full political attention” to the implementation of the Youth Guarantee Initiative which will aim to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 have a job, training programme or an apprenticeship. To support this initiative, the Presidency will also be initiating discussions regarding the European Alliance for Apprenticeship to develop high quality apprenticeships and on-the-job skills training as a part of vocational training. The presidency will also be aiming to improve cooperation of Public Employment Services to contribute to the resolution of youth unemployment issues throughout the EU.
Social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union
The Presidency will continue the discussions opened during the Irish presidency on the social dimension of the internal market, which will look at finding ways to better integrate the social dimension in the current structures for economic governance. This includes looking at the efficiency and sustainability of, for instance labour, goods and services markets, of the public sector in general, of education and vocational training systems, and of pension and healthcare systems.
Fundamental rights and non-discrimination
The Lithuanian Presidency will look at the enhancement of fundamental rights and strengthening the anti-discrimination agenda. In this way it will discuss progress made on negotiation regarding the non-discrimination directive to implement the principle of the equal treatment regardless of age, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation in areas other than the labour market. The Presidency will also work with the European Commission regarding the improvement of the implementation of national Roma integration strategies.
The implementation of policies emphasising gender equality as a horizontal priority in all policy areas, including employment, will also be highlighted by the Presidency’s agenda with a minister-level conference to be held in Vilnius in September.
Sustainable health systems
The Presidency expects to work with Member States to reach conclusions on how to implement “modern, responsive and sustainable health systems”, with a view to enhance the abilities of Member States to practically apply the principle of “Health in All Policies” and encourage confidence in best practice. The conclusions are expected to include the implementation of objectives under the Europe 2020 strategy in the health field, effective investment in the health sector and use of EU structural funds, integrated care models and better hospital management.
A credible Europe
In the European Year for Citizens 2013, the Presidency will aim to strengthen confidence in the EU and its institutions and will focus on the protection of the interests and needs of citizens.
You can find the website of the Lithuanian EU Presidency here