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Document 32000Y0112(04)

Council Conclusions of 17 December 1999 on the strengthening of cooperation for modernising and improving social protection

OJ C 8, 12.1.2000, p. 7–8 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

In force

32000Y0112(04)

Council Conclusions of 17 December 1999 on the strengthening of cooperation for modernising and improving social protection

Official Journal C 008 , 12/01/2000 P. 0007 - 0008


COUNCIL CONCLUSIONS

of 17 December 1999

on the strengthening of cooperation for modernising and improving social protection

(2000/C 8/05)

THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

(1) NOTES with satisfaction the views expressed by the Commission in its communication "A concerted strategy for modernising social protection" and regards it as a good basis for further discussion on European social protection;

(2) EMPHASISES that the aim of the European Union should be to ensure a link between economic and social development, RECALLS the competence of the Member States for the organisation and financing of social protection, and STRESSES that decisions in matters covered by the Community competence should complement and not weaken the conditions under which national social policy is conducted;

(3) UNDERLINES the need for cooperation in modernising social protection, based on a structured and permanent dialogue, follow-up and exchange of information, experience and good practice between the Member States, concerning social protection, since they are faced with the same type of challenges in its development; ACKNOWLEDGES the need to discuss the future of social protection at a European level in the new context as outlined in the Commission's communication. This kind of cooperation should cover all forms of social protection and should help the Member States, where necessary, to improve and strengthen their social protection systems in accordance with their national priorities;

(4) CONSIDERS it particularly important that this new cooperation towards improving and modernising social protection should be a coherent action, parallel to and interactive with the European employment strategy as well as to the macroeconomic dialogue;

(5) UNDERLINES the role of the social partners in the modernisation of the social protection process;

(6) ENDORSES the four broad objectives as identified by the Commission as follows:

- to make work pay and to provide secure income,

- to make pensions safe and pensions systems sustainable,

- to promote social inclusion,

- to ensure high quality and sustainable health care,

and WELCOMES the Commission's analysis of each of them as a basis for further work by a new high-level group. Public health issues should be handled separately in the appropriate bodies of the Council;

(7) STRESSES that social protection which guarantees an adequate safety net for all citizens is also an investment in balanced economic development and a significant competitive advantage in a globalising economy; RECOGNISES that the aspects relating to finance are common to all the objectives of social protection mentioned in point 6;

In addition to the broad four objectives for the development of social protection arrangements set out by the Commission,

(8) also EMPHASISES that equality between women and men must be mainstreamed in all activities aiming at the four objectives. This means assessing the consequences for women and men at all stages of planning, decision making and follow-up relating to such activities;

Furthermore,

(9) EMPHASISES that the Community should pay particular attention to a balanced economic and social development in the applicant countries in the process towards an enlargement of the European Union;

(10) STRESSES that full advantage should be taken of new technology and in particular of new information technology in the development of social welfare. At Community level, special attention should be given to activities which promote the utilisation of advanced information technology in the attainment of welfare goals. This technology must benefit the development of health and social services and the social participation of all sectors of the population;

In order to achieve the goals of this cooperation for improving and modernising social protection,

(11) SUPPORTS the Commission's suggestion to establish a mechanism for enhanced cooperation brought about by the work of a group of high-level officials for the implementation of this action. Without prejudice to Article 207 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, a group of high-level officials will examine the issues raised in the Commission's communication and in these conclusions, and will in particular prepare a report to be submitted to the Council;

(12) UNDERLINES the necessity to create this group as soon as possible, and in the meantime asks the Member States and the Commission to designate, as soon as possible, for an interim period, high-level officials to launch the abovementioned debate. Work should begin immediately and a progress report should be prepared in the context of the European Council in June 2000;

Finally,

(13) SUPPORTS the Commission's intention to associate the European Parliament with this process; also SUPPORTS the Commission's wish to involve the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions in this cooperation and WELCOMES the contribution of the social partners and social security institutions to this process.

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