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Document 31998Y0724(02)

Resolution of the ECSC Consultative Committee on the need to maintain the specific nature of the Safety and Health Commission for the Mining and other Extractive Industries

OJ C 232, 24.7.1998, p. 4–5 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

In force

31998Y0724(02)

Resolution of the ECSC Consultative Committee on the need to maintain the specific nature of the Safety and Health Commission for the Mining and other Extractive Industries

Official Journal C 232 , 24/07/1998 P. 0004 - 0005


RESOLUTION OF THE ECSC CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE ON THE NEED TO MAINTAIN THE SPECIFIC NATURE OF THE SAFETY AND HEALTH COMMISSION FOR THE MINING AND OTHER EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES (98/C 232/04)

(adopted unanimously less one abstention during the 340th Session of 25 June 1998)

1. Introduction

1.1. The Commission's proposal to merge the Safety and Health Commission for the Mining and other Extractive Industries with the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work, as set out in the Community programme 1996-2000 (1), has not yet been implemented.

1.2. The Consultative Committee has already expressed its opposition to this proposal, in a resolution adopted unanimously at its 328th Session on 14 March 1996 (2).

1.3. The Safety and Health Commission was set up as long ago as 6 September 1956 and 10 May 1957, at the 36th and 42nd sessions of the Council of Ministers (3). A clear, detailed mandate giving it the right of initiative was conferred upon it under a Council Decision adopted at the 44th session on 9 July 1957 (4). It originally covered coal mines only but later, under the Council Decision of 27 June 1974, its scope was extended to all the extractive industries (5).

The Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work was set up under the Council Decision of 27 June 1974 (6) to help the Commission prepare activities in the relevant fields and put them into effect. Whereas the Safety and Health Commission has a highly specific mandate, the Advisory Committee's remit is very general, namely to help the Commission prepare and put into effect activities for which it is responsible.

1.4. The recent important changes in the construction of Europe, in particular the introduction of a social chapter in the Amsterdam Treaty, call for a critical and constructive review of the experience gained through dialogue and of the bodies set up for this purpose among the social partners in the European Union.

1.5. The Safety and Health Commission has a wealth of solid, highly productive experience behind it and has worked unceasingly and to good effect to improve safety conditions in the extractive industries by developing technically sound working practices.

2. The sectoral aspect of this social dialogue

2.1. A critical review of European-level advisory bodies suggests that the more sharply they focus on sectoral aspects the more effective they are. This would appear to be a logical consequence of the principle of subsidiarity.

2.2. Unlike the advisory bodies set up under the ECSC Treaty, which were necessarily sectoral, later ones such as the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work, have cut across sectors.

2.3. At a time when the characteristics of the social dialogue of the future are up for discussion, it is appropriate to bear in mind that Community experience over many years has shown such a dialogue to be most effective and productive when it focuses on a specific sector of activity and develops within a single forum, at different levels and dealing with various subjects ranging from market trends, research and innovation to training, the safety and health of workers and the social aspects of restructuring.

3. The need to maintain the specific nature of the Safety and Health Commission

3.1. Although the Safety and Health Commission is based on the general Treaty and does not therefore depend directly on the ECSC Treaty for its existence, there are several reasons why it needs to continue its activities in both the short and the long term.

3.2. The first harmonised European statistics on accidents at work indicate that, even though enormous progress has been made, working conditions in coal mines and in the extractive industries in general are still much harsher than in most other sectors of production and the risks inherent in this particularly hostile working environment are still greater.

3.3. Moreover, the working conditions in coal mines and in the extractive industries in general are so specific that they have led to specific legislation in most Member States of the European Union.

3.4. The need to pass on specific work experience to both young workers in mines where many experienced workers have been made redundant during periods of drastic restructuring and to workers in countries applying to join the Union makes it vital to use instruments of dialogue such as the Safety and Health Commission to enable improvements in working conditions arising from past experience to be incorporated gradually into the Single European Market.

4. Conclusion

The ECSC Consultative Committee

4.1. CONSIDERS AND RECOMMENDS to the Commission that, despite the expiry of the ECSC Treaty under which it was set up, it would be desirable for the Safety and Health Commission for the Mining and other Extractive Industries to continue as an independent body;

4.2. consequently ASKS the European Commission to prevent the Safety and Health Commission from disappearing in a merger with the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work;

4.3. RECOMMENDS that, with a view to possible future rationalisation, the Safety and Health Commission continue in existence as a specific, independent body even if it has to be linked from an operational point of view with the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work;

4.4. WISHES TO MAKE THE POINT that this type of structure, namely an operational relationship between one or more specific groups which create their own momentum and a more general body, might serve as a model for an effective tie-up between the sectoral aspects in other branches of industry and the multi-sectoral aspects at Union level.

(1) COM(95) 282 final.

(2) OJ C 138, 9.5.1996.

(3) OJ 487, 31.8.1957.

(4) OJ 487, 31.8.1957.

(5) OJ L 185, 9.7.1974.

(6) OJ L 185, 9.7.1974.

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