Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (400)

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

530 Mr. O'Connor asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the plans her Department has to promote Ireland's EU Presidency with the Irish public; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2805/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

My overall focus for the Irish Presidency will be to advance the EU social policy agenda generally and in particular, make progress in delivering on the ten year goals set by the Lisbon European Council in 2000.

The Irish Presidency priorities for the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council formation are detailed in the booklet entitled, More and better jobs and greater social cohesion in an enlarged Union, which is also available on the Presidency website. In early January I issued a detailed press release setting out the priorities in the social policy area. These are making work pay; co-ordination of social security for migrant workers; migration; family issues; social inclusion; and pensions.

As part of our contribution to modernising social protection systems, "making work pay" was chosen as the main theme for discussion at the informal Council of Ministers for Employment and Social Policy, which was held on 16 January in Galway. The outcome of the discussions was explained fully through special press conferences and related interviews. I will also be hosting a number of major conferences over the period of the Presidency and these will be fully publicised at the appropriate times.

The Irish Presidency will work to secure, for the first time, an agreed high level paper to be presented to the spring European Council of Heads of State and Government. This will reflect in an integrated way the council's work on social inclusion, pensions, demographic developments, making work pay, gender equality and the employment related policy challenges addressed in the report of the European employment task force and elsewhere.

As Deputies are aware, a special Presidency website has been set up which can be accessed by the general public. Detailed information on the Presidency programme is available on that website. I will continue to make up to date information available on the website over the coming months.