Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Brussels, 14 March 2022

The Council discussed the situation in Ukraine and the financial support measures decided on at European level for the reception of refugees.

The Council also adopted a general approach on a draft directive on improving the balance between women and men on company boards. Ministers also approved conclusions on a European Court of Auditors special report, adopted the joint employment report 2022 and approved conclusions on the 2022 annual sustainable growth survey and joint employment report.

The ministers participated in two policy debates aimed at contributing to the full realisation of the EU’s potential in employment, firstly in a debate on combating discrimination in access to employment and on promoting diversity in the world of work, and secondly in a debate on the full participation of older people in the world of work.


People displaced by the conflict in Ukraine must be given assistance for their reception and support, access to the labour market and housing and social assistance, with particular attention to children and people with disabilities. Ministers exchanged views after a presentation by the Commission of its initiative of 8 March 2022. The initiative, known as CARE, aims to renew the budgetary flexibilities and reallocations introduced in European social funds in 2020 to finance such assistance to the refugees.

Gender balance on company boards

With only 30.6% of board members and 8.5% of board chairs being held by women in the EU, the Council is moving forward with an EU law to improve the balance between women and men on these bodies. At their meeting in Brussels, ministers agreed on their position on this draft directive and thereby cleared the way for negotiations with the European Parliament to reach a final agreement on the text.

The directive aims to set a quantitative objective to be reached of the under-represented sex on boards of listed companies. When a company does not meet the objectives, it will be obliged to carry out appointments or elections for directors by applying clear, neutrally formulated and unambiguous criteria.

Today’s agreement in the Council is an important step. I would reiterate that I wish to see negotiations with the European Parliament commence rapidly to achieve the definitive adoption of this directive, which will make it possible to take action on the glass ceiling which women too often face in the world of work.

Élisabeth Borne, French Minister of Labour, Employment and Economic Inclusion

Combatting discrimination at work and promoting diversity in the workplace

Despite the extensive EU rulebook to guarantee equal treatment, more than 50% of EU citizens are of the opinion that discrimination persists in their country. Discrimination at work is among other things caused by the persistence of stereotypes, an inadequate awareness of employers and workers as regards their obligations and rights and an insufficient implementation of anti-discrimination measures. Ministers exchanged views on this subject and addressed, in particular, further actions that might be needed at EU level to combat discrimination in employment. They also discussed the means national authorities should be allocated to ensure the effective implementation of the EU’s rules.

Promoting the full participation of older people in the labour market

While the level of employment for people between 55 and 64 is only 59.6% (according to Eurostat data), ministers discussed possible EU actions to boost their participation in the labour market and training as well as ways to adapt their work environment and their working conditions to facilitate them staying in work.

The presidency recalled that a culture of life-long learning and investment in health and safety at work were two key factors to keep people in work. In this regard, the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 highlights the need to adapt the working environment and conditions in order to prevent professional exclusion.

European Court of Auditors special report

The Council approved conclusions on a special report of the European Court of Auditors about measures since 2014 of the European Social Fund (ESF) to tackle long-term unemployment. The report comes to the conclusion that ESF measures were not always adapted to address the specific needs of long-term unemployed people. The conclusions – among other points – call upon member states to offer in-depth individual assessments and guidance to jobseekers using all the resources available, including upskilling and reskilling schemes, to help remove social and psychological barriers to returning to work.

European semester

In the context of the 2022 European Semester, the Council adopted the joint employment report 2022 and approved conclusions on the 2022 annual sustainable growth survey and joint employment report. In their conclusions, ministers call on member states to reflect the priorities of the annual sustainable growth survey and joint employment report and to step up their efforts to implement the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Other business

The presidency and the Commission briefed delegations about the upcoming Social Tripartite Summit.

The European Commission informed ministers about the implementation of the EU action plan against racism, the annual report about equality between women and men, its recent communication entitled action plan for the social economy, the European child guarantee, and national objectives in the area of work, skills and poverty reduction in the context of the action plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The chairs of the Employment Committee and of the Social Protection Committee presented the work programmes of their committees for 2022.

Meeting information
  • Meeting n°3851
  • Brussels
  • 14 March 2022
  • 09:00
Preparatory documents
Outcome documents
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