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Fair wages, eradicating homelessness, advancing on the child guarantee, and inclusion of people with disabilities – these are the main priorities of the French EU Presidency, that began on 1 January. For the next six months, France will preside over the EU Council of Ministers seeking to ensure political progress in different areas such as social and labour market policy.

Fair wages and equal pay

“It is solidarity that has enabled us to save lives and protect jobs over the past two years,” declared French President, Emmanuel Macron while presenting France’s EU Presidency priorities at the European Parliament on 19 January. “I hope that this French Presidency … can take action to offer all people quality jobs that are better paid with decent minimum wages for all.” Indeed, one of the main social policy initiatives under the Presidency will be the start of negotiations on the recently proposed directive on adequate minimum wages in the EU between the European Parliament and the EU member states. In addition, the Presidency plans to move forward negotiations on the proposed directive on strengthening the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work. The European Social Network (ESN) will follow both initiatives closely to see how this will relate to the social sector.

Eradicating homelessness

France intends to use the Presidency to give new impetus to the EU goal of eradicating homelessness by 2030. Notably, on 28 February an inter-ministerial meeting shall discuss how to effectively combat homelessness and inadequate housing. ESN will be happy to provide input, as it is very active in this area, for instance through its participation in the recently established European platform to combat homelessness; our EU Semester reports, which gathered data on this issue over the past years and our upcoming Seminar on Integrated Social Services Interventions for beneficiaries of minimum income schemes, looking at joint approaches with social housing services. 

Advancing the Child Guarantee

On 3 and 4 March a EU Presidency conference will discuss children’s access to essential services, a key principle of European Child Guarantee. ESN will seek to provide input into the conference, based on its Response to the EU Child Guarantee Consultation.

Promoting social inclusion of people with disabilities

On 9 March the Presidency will hold a ministerial conference to provide an initial assessment of the implementation of the new Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021–2030. ESN welcomes this initiative and supports its implementation through its participation in the newly formed EU disability platform using evidence collected from social services, such as from its 2018 Report on Independent lives for people with disabilities.

ESN working hand in hand with the French Presidency

ESN CEO Alfonso Montero is ready to support the French Presidency and its social agenda. “ESN looks forward to work in close collaboration with the French EU Presidency. It will be important to take the views of local European social services into account, for a smooth implementation of EU social policy initiatives, such as the Child Guarantee.”

The full programme is available here. The French Presidency Agenda is available here.