Tuesday

6th Dec 2022

EU to tackle workers' protection against asbestos

Political agreement on a directive strengthening the protection of workers against asbestos is expected to occur during the Employment and Social Policy council on Monday. Alarming data by the British Journal of Cancer (1997) reveals that about 500,000 people from Western Europe alone, will die of conditions associated with asbestos over the next 35 years. The Council is also expected to agree on the extension of social security rights to non-EU nationals legally residing in the EU.

Some EU member states still allow production of asbestos and protection of workers from asbestos differs from one EU country to the other. Although in practice the EU member states do not extract any more asbestos, they have until 1 January 2005 to adopt a directive, which prohibits the trading and use of asbestos.

Ending discrimination against non-EU nationals

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An agreement is expected on the extension of the regulation on social security rights to non-EU nationals legally residing in the EU. Advances in this area are seen as important steps in reducing practical barriers to mobility for workers within the EU in line with the Commission’s Action Plan for skills and mobility endorsed at Barcelona.

There are about 13 million non-EU citizens legally residing in the EU. The scope of this initiative is to provide equal treatment for non-EU nationals who are legally resident in one EU state and are legally moving to another member state.

Protection of temporary agency workers

Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou will be presenting two recent Commission proposals to the ministers:the proposal for a directive on Temporary Agency Work and the proposal for a Council Recommendation on Health and Safety for the self-employed. No agreement is expected on the issue of temporary agency work and discussion is expected to continue during the Danish Presidency.

The Council is also expected to adopt two key resolutions giving further momentum to the implementation of the Commission’s Action Plan for Skills and Mobility, including the upcoming European Health Insurance Card, and the Commission’s Health and Safety Strategy for 2002-2006.

The Spanish Presidency will present the outcome of the Barcelona European Council and the Commission and Ministers will be debating the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPGs), drawing on previous work in the Employment and Social protection Committees. The result of this debate will be forwarded to the ECOFIN Council, meeting the following day on Tuesday, June 4.

Investigation

EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths

The EU Commission has watered-down a broad political initiative —but now governments of member states hold the key to what the EU should do. Some member states and regions have adopted asbestos strategies of some kind, from Poland to Flanders.

Investigation

Asbestos — two to three times more deadly than known

Where once working men in heavy industry were diagnosed with cancers related to a more direct exposure to asbestos, now women in professions such as teaching, nursing and other occupations are being diagnosed, as well as young people.

EU countries struggle to crack Hungary's vetos

Hungary will be in the spotlight on Tuesday as EU governments struggle over suspending EU funds to prime minister Viktor Orbán's government — despite rule of law concerns — and unlock key EU policies which Budapest has been blocking.

Opinion

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

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