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(ix) Regulation on a Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling (information from the Commission)

(x) Impact of the proposal for a regulation on the law applicable to contractual obligation (ROME I) (requested by the Luxembourg delegation)

(xi) Information on Poland’s proposal to organize the exhibition EXPO 2012 in Wroclaw, Poland (requested by the Polish delegation)

The European Space Council and discussion on the remaining agenda items will take place on 22 May.

The European Space Council will convene in the morning and will be chaired by German State Secretary Peter Hintze and Dutch Economics Minister Maria van der Hoeven. The main item on the agenda will be the adoption of a Resolution on the European Space Programme.

The remaining items on the agenda relate to research and will be chaired by Annette Schavan, the German Research Minister. The first issue to be dealt with in this section of the Council will be the Commission proposal for the European Institute for Technology. UK broadly supports the objectives of the proposal but there remain a number of outstanding issues including budget and governance.

Following on from this there will be a presentation from the Commission on the establishment of the ARTEMIS joint undertaking to implement a joint technology initiative in embedded computer systems. This will be followed by a presentation by the Commission on a regulation setting up the innovative medicines initiatives joint undertaking. The UK supports the establishment of joint technology initiatives in principle.

This will be followed by an exchange of views on the Commission’s Green Paper “The European Research Area: New Perspectives”. The UK supports the launch of a debate on the future of the European research area.

The next item on the agenda will be on research infrastructures in the European research area (ESFRI). There will be an exchange of views followed by the adoption of Council conclusions. The UK welcomes the ESFRI road map and supports the Council conclusions.

Two research points will be taken under any other business:

(i) Euro-Med Education and Research Ministers meeting (information from the presidency)

(ii) Commission proposal on article 169 Initiatives (information from the Commission).


Departmental Report

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Douglas Alexander): I have today published my Department's Annual Report for 2007. Copies have been laid before Parliament and placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Report sets out the Department's activities and achievements over the last year. It also describes the
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Department's future expenditure plans for the period of the spending review 2004.

Work and Pensions

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 30 May in Brussels. The Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, My hon. Friend, the Member for Stirling (Mrs. MsGuire), who has responsibility for disabled people, will be representing the UK. Health and Consumer Affairs issues are being taken on 31 May.

The Council will seek political agreement on guidelines for the Employment Policies of the member states. The UK supports this text.

There will be an endorsement of the Active Ageing opinion following a study of all member states policies in this area. We welcome this exchange of good practice underpinning a key Lisbon priority.

The Council will consider the adoption and a policy debate on the Commission's published Communication on a new health and safety strategy for 2007-2012, published on 21 February 2007. The Council will be invited to adopt a draft Resolution on the strategy. It generally welcomes the strategy, but reinforces calls on the Commission to simplify the legislative framework and reduce administrative burdens. The UK will support the Resolution.

The Council will aim to reach agreement on a partial general approach on both the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/04 on the co-ordination of social security schemes and the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 883/ 2004 on the co-ordination of social security systems, and determining the content of Annexe XL. The UK is content, but will be making a statement for the Council minutes to make clear that our agreement to the provisions for healthcare is provisional and subject to future discussions on the proposal for health services.

The Council will receive an amendments package for Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons, to self-employed persons and to members of their families moving within the Community. This amendments package is non controversial.

The key agenda item will be the Presidency hopes to get political agreement on a directive for improving the portability of supplementary pension rights. Depending on the outcome of current negotiations, we are likely to support the Presidency proposal.

The Council will seek adoption of the draft conclusions on the importance of family-friendly policies in Europe and the establishment of an Alliance for Families. The UK supports this initiative on the
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basis that the Alliance works with existing EU structures and does not duplicate work.

The Council will seek adoption of the conclusions pertaining to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. The Presidency has chosen to work on the theme of “The Education and Training of Women” and has produced a report including a set of indicators. The UK supports the text.

The chair of the Social Protection Committee (SPC) will inform the Council on the progress on a communication on Social Services of General Interest. The SPC has discussed Member State responses to a consultation on whether significant problems exist between modernising social services and applying EU competition policy. There will be further EU level evaluation before any conclusions are drawn and any proposals brought forward.

Under Any Other Business, there will be reports of recent Presidency conferences.

Post Office Card Account (Successor)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry outlined a package of measures on 14 December 2006 to put the Post Office network on a stable footing, Official Report, columns 1026-28, volume 454.

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In that statement he said:

My Department has now started this process by submitting a notice which will appear in the Official Journal of the European Union. I will arrange for a copy of the notice to be placed in the Library. The key elements of the notice are:

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