Czech EU Presidency to work under the motto "Europe without Barriers"

30 Jan 2009

On 1st January the France handed over the leading role of the EU to the Czech Republic which priorities for the next 6 months will be based on the motto "Europe without Barriers" to reflect the four basic freedoms: the free movement of goods, capital, workers, and services.  This priority was welcomed by many EU countries.  In addition and in the framework of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, the Czech Presidency added a fifth symbolic freedom of free movement of information and knowledge. The main priorities of the Czech Presidency can be summed up as "the 3 E's": Economy, Energy and External Relations.

The programme of the Czech presidency mainly addresses disability in the area of employment, services as a tool for preventing social exclusion and for active inclusion of the most vulnerable persons, cross-border health care and rare diseases.  

On 23 January, during the informal meeting of EU Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs, the Czech Presidency pointed out that the current financial and economic crisis highlighted the need for greater workforce mobility, including rapid re-inclusion of unemployed and inactive persons into the labour market.

In his speech, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Petr Nečas, highlighted the priorities of the Presidency to concentrate on increasing the employment rate and labour market flexibility using the general principles of flexicurity. He also added the wish of the Presidency to achieve horizontal support for families and to focus on social services as a tool for active social integration and employment opportunities. He also mentioned the new anti-discrimination directive and his concern that he did not expect to reach a political agreement during the Czech Presidency due to the need to conduct lengthy debates within the Council mainly on legal and interpretation issues.

Among the events planned during the Czech Presidency, two events will address disability among other issues disability from the perspective of employment, social services and telecommunications :

 

  • 17 February 2009 - Ministerial Conference on e-Communications
  • 25-26 March 2009 - Conference on the implementation of common principles of flexicurity during the economic crisis
  • 22-23 April 2009 - Conference on "Social Services - A Tool for Mobilising the Workforce and Strengthening Social Cohesion". 

 

It is also expected that the formal Employment and Social Affairs Council in June addresses the implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities based on the report of the High Level Group on Disability.