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Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, 9-10 December 2019

The Council held a debate on ‘Economy of Wellbeing – next steps in investing in health as its key component’, based on a discussion paper. Ministers exchanged views on health-related topics, in particular mental health, healthy ageing and the digital transformation of health and social services.

Based on a presidency note, ministers also held a debate on how to strengthen co-operation and coordination with the aim of improving access to medicines throughout the EU.

Krista Kiuru, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services of Finland said: “This debate was extremely important because shortages of medicines pose serious risks to patient safety. We also have to see how to deal with the different levels of access to new medicines across the EU. Cooperation and coordination are key, as these challenges require measures both at EU and national level.”

The Commission provided information about the state of health in the EU
The Commission also provided information on the state of play of the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2017/745 on medical devices and of Regulation (EU) 2017/746 on in vitro diagnostic medical devices.

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On the basis of a discussion paper, ministers held a public debate on the future gender equality policies and gender mainstreaming in the EU. At the beginning of the debate the director of the European institute for gender equality (EIGE) presented the findings in the latest on the main trends, current progress, and major challenges in the field of gender equality in the EU.

The Council adopted conclusions on gender equal economies in the EU. The adoption is part of the review of the implementation of the UN agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment by the EU and its member states (Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action).

The Council also adopted conclusions on a new EU strategic framework on health and safety at work. The conclusions invite the Commission to present a new framework for the period 2021-2027.

On the basis of a presidency steering note, ministers held a public debate on the future of the social legislation in the context of rapid changes in the labour market. The aim of the discussion was to explore possible avenues for further developing EU legislation in the area of social affairs, to identify difficulties in its implementation, to share ideas on how to fill the remaining legislative gaps and to better enforce existing laws.

Ministers also adopted conclusions on inclusive labour markets. The main aim of these conclusions is to highlight the economic value of providing better employment opportunities to people with disabilities, low-skilled and long-term unemployed people, young people and people with a migrant background.

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