Balancing national leanings and Community solidarity is the challenge the Irish Presidency faces on social and employment policy. Faced with skyrocketing unemployment that began four years ago and is likely to continue over the next six months, Dublin is committed to putting initiatives for employment-rich growth high up its list of priorities. These include proposals to make it easier for workers to move around the Union. It promises not to shirk from any issue, even the most sensitive, such as those linked to equality (directives on maternity leave and against discrimination) and to solidarity (Globalisation Adjustment Fund and aid programme for the deprived).
Most of the issues being negotiated concern cross-border mobility. Like its Presidency predecessors, Dublin will first try to progress the implementing directive on the posting of workers presented in March 2012. The text, which amends Directive 1996/71, aims to clarify rules for when employees are sent to a member state other than the one in which they usually work for a limited period when delivering defined services. The main stumbling block between the co-legislators, and also within Parliament and Council themselves, is over the principle of joint and several liability in the subcontracting chain. The European Parliament's rapporteur, Danuta Jazlowiecka (EPP, Poland) and several member states want to delete this key provision in the legislative proposal.
Ireland will pursue work on the portability of complementary pension rights based on the draft directive presented in 2005 and revised in 2007. The proposal has run up against different national practices. Some countries, such as Germany, do not have company schemes, whereas 75% of Swedes aged from 20 to 64 pay into them. Dublin is due to take up the negotiations begun by Nicosia on the legal basis to be applied.
The Presidency wants to move forward the directive on recognition of professional qualifications, which creates a European professional card. The text, tabled about a year ago by the Commission, is stuck in the Council, while MEPs have not yet voted in committee.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AND SOLIDARITY
Ireland inherits a whole series of dossiers stuck in the Council because some consider them to be "too social". Several member states, led by Germany, think that some Community initiatives based on solidarity and equality should be renationalised. This is particularly the case for the European...