Select Committee on European Union Fourteenth Report


25 MARCH 2003

By the Select Committee appointed to consider European Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.



CONV 516/03  Final Report of Working Group XI on "Social Europe"

  Social policy presents particular difficulty in establishing a satisfactory balance between action by the Union and action by the Member States. It will require close attention in the Convention on the Future of Europe.

  A strong case has not been made for the extension of Community competence in this area, except in the field of public health. But it is important that the opportunity is taken to clarify and simplify the legal base of EU social policy.

  The Government are opposed to the extension of Qualified Majority Voting in the social policy area, but it is doubtful whether in a Union of 25 Members it will be possible to make progress effectively by unanimity.

  The Open Method of Co-ordination is an effective way of co-ordinating Member States' social policies. It should be given a Treaty base, but not in such a way as to circumscribe its flexibility.

  Further consideration needs to be given to the role of the social partners and civil society in the development of social policy.  

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