The EU: Employment, social policy, health and medical care

Work on employment policy, labour law and working conditions, social security and public health takes place in the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (the EPSCO Council). It is important to increase women’s participation in the labour market, and functioning childcare and elderly care are prerequisites in achieving this.

More about the EPSCO Council on the Council of the European Union website

A strong and social Europe is based on a synergy between growth, competitiveness and solidarity, where growth and social progress reinforce one another.

Europe needs more people in the labour market, and initiatives for greater gender equality facilitate higher labour force participation among women. The large migration flows and the high level of youth unemployment are two of the EU's greatest challenges. A place in the education system is of fundamental importance for the possibility of new arrivals to become part of society and enter the labour market.

More women in the labour market

Gender equality is a question of power and justice, but at the same time also a prerequisite to increase Europe's growth and competitiveness. There are few areas in society where the growth potential is as extensive as the area of gender equality, and the EU must work strategically on gender equality issues and prioritise work to promote women's labour market participation.

Effective cooperation in the area of employment is important for encouraging the Member States to implement necessary reforms to get more women and men into work.

Increasing women’s participation in the labour market contributes to increased growth and a stronger economy in Europe. Within the EU, women’s labour force participation is higher in countries that have invested in childcare. The European Council has set targets on childcare. Some progress has been made, but despite this childcare provision in the EU has still not reached the targets.

A common labour market must not lead to worse conditions

A key objective concerning labour law and work environment issues is improving the living and working conditions of employees. One important aspect in this area is the dialogue between the social partners.

A common European labour market must not lead to poorer conditions for the workers of Europe. The Government will work to ensure that the principle of equal pay for equal work according to applicable laws and collective agreements in the country of employment is acknowledged, and that foreign employees are, as far as possible, treated in the same way as domestic employees, particularly with regard to fundamental work and employment conditions within the framework of areas covered by the Posting of Workers Directive, while respecting free movement.

Coordination provisions to promote mobility

The Government welcomes a review of the regulations coordinating social security systems. The regulations need to be reviewed to ensure that workers do not lose their right to social security, and to adapt the regulations to the Free Movement Directive.

The Government will work to ensure that the coordination rules for social security systems promote mobility for people within the EU, in particular for employees, and that they help improve people's standards of living and opportunities to earn a living. The Government's ambition is that the provisions must include the balance between an individual's social security and the division of responsibilities and costs among Member States.

Public health

Health and medical care and public health mainly come under national competence, but there is added value in working together at EU level in certain areas. One example is work in the area of pharmaceuticals, which among other things involves the development of EU pharmaceutical legislation. Sweden is particularly engaged in work on antimicrobial resistance and the harmful effects of alcohol.

EU's alcohol policy and action

The Government wants to see an ambitious alcohol policy with a focus on preventive measures. At EU level, the Government mainly wants to see initiatives regarding cross-border issues such as marketing and advertising, e-commerce, pricing, import quotas and product labelling.

Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the largest health threats to our world. It is important to have a 'One Health' approach where animals and humans are dealt with together. Sweden has pushed to lift the issue to EU level.