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Department of Education and Skills; Dept Health; Social Protection

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) is serviced by a number of Government Departments, including the Department of Health, the Department of Social Protection, and the Department of Education and Skills.

Within the Permanent Representation, EPSCO Council issues are divided along the following lines:

  • Employment Policy and Labour Law issues (including health and safety at work, corporate social responsibility, social dialogue, restructuring) are dealt with by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. 
  • Equal Opportunities issues (including gender and disability equality, anti-discrimination) are dealt with by the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence. 
  • Health issues (including public health, pandemic preparedness planning, food safety and medicines, issues relating to cross-border health care) are dealt with by the Department of Health. Health Ministers generally meet twice a year.
  • Social Protection issues (including pensions, social security, poverty and social inclusion) are dealt with by the Department of Social Protection
  • (Occasionally, consumer policy issues feature on the agenda of the EPSCO Council, but they are usually on the agenda of the Competitiveness Council).

Within the Council, Member States may exchange ideas, information or share the results of the respective national experiences.  This is done, in particular, within the framework of the Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee.   

The EU’s mission in these areas is to raise the standard of living of its citizens, especially through high-quality employment as well as a high level of social protection, health and consumer protection, while ensuring at the same time equal opportunities for all its citizens.

The EPSCO Council approves European rules to harmonize or coordinate national legislation in issues such as working conditions (health and safety of workers, social security, and employee participation in the running of businesses) and reinforcement of national policies that promote health, prevent illness and combat major health scourges and protection of consumers’ rights.  However, since policies on employment and social protection are still the specific responsibility of Member States, the contribution of the EU is confined to a definition of common objectives, the analysis of measures taken on a national level and the adoption of recommendations addressed to Member States.