A cohesive and strong Europe is one that guarantees equal opportunities for the development of all its citizens, ensures their safety, social protection and inclusion, and guarantees fair and non-discriminatory access to all the benefits of the Single Market. In addition, it is important to prevent hazards and promote safer and healthier working conditions with the vital aim to improve living standards for all citizens.
In this sense, the Romanian Presidency has fought for the protection of citizens’ social rights and employment, giving major importance to social files and being firmly committed to complex negotiations. Through key achievements on new EU laws such as Work-Life Balance, Transparent & Predictable Working Conditions, the European Labour Authority, and reducing exposure to carcinogens at work, we ensure that all citizens benefit from fairness & social justice: the right to quality jobs, healthcare, lifelong learning and gender equality.
Through the Work-Life Balance Directive, a huge boost is given to promoting gender equality across the EU by encouraging the participation of women on the labour market and the equal sharing of care responsibilities between women and men. The current legislation on parental leave, paid paternity leave and flexible working arrangements for parents and carers is significantly improved. The new EU rules will also contribute to reducing the gender gap, a topic which is currently on focus in the EU. Gender equality is a cross-cutting theme of the Romanian Presidency and as a result, a TRIO Declaration on gender equality was signed on 15 March 2019 together with the future Finnish and Croatian Presidencies of the EU Council. The Declaration stresses the need for a dual approach that combines the inclusion of a gender perspective in all EU policies with specific targeted actions and highlights the importance of recognising women’s economic independence as a key factor that contributes to social cohesion and sustainable economic growth. We have also organized several events around the topic of gender equality.
The European Labour Authority (ELA) will support member states in implementing EU legislation in the areas of cross-border labour mobility across the Union and will provide information to employees and employers. ELA will also facilitate the access that mobile workers have to information on rights and obligations, and will provide support in tackling undeclared work.
Through the directive aimed at making working conditions across the EU more transparent and predictable, we respond to labour market challenges triggered by demographic developments, digitalisation and new forms of employment. The Romanian Presidency of the EU Council ensured the introduction of new minimum rights for workers, including for those on atypical contracts, as well as new rules on the substance, form and timing of information provided to workers on their employment relationship and working conditions.
The Romanian Presidency has also helped reduce the exposure of workers to five carcinogenic chemical agents, thus protecting millions of citizens and preventing thousands of cases of ill-health at the workplace.
EU citizens have demanded via the ‘Right2Water’ initiative that tap water across the EU is safe to drink. The Romanian Presidency has delivered on this request and successfully finalised the drinking water directive that includes new rules on the quality standards of drinking water, and improves access to water.
A big step has also been taken towards ensuring transparency and sustainability of EU risk assessment in the food chain, through the update of the General Food Law Regulation. This agreement will allow European citizens to have easier access to scientific information on the fundamental issue of food safety and human health. The new rules will provide better legal certainty to the food industry and improve the sustainability of the governance and scientific performance of EFSA, the European food safety authority.
Ensuring the protection of consumers is one of the key responsibilities of the EU towards its citizens. The Romanian Presidency has contributed to the modernisation and reinforcement of the consumer protection laws, part of the ‘New Deal for Consumers‘ launched in 2017. The new rules will ensure rights such as individual remedies for consumers when they are harmed by unfair commercial practices. It will also ensure enhanced transparency in online transactions, in particular regarding the use of online reviews, the protection of consumers in respect of ‘free’ digital services, namely digital services for which consumers do not pay money but provide personal data, such as cloud storage, social media and email accounts. The new rules will also clarify the way misleading marketing of ‘dual quality’ products should be dealt with by member states.
The Romanian Presidency of the EU Council has also successfully tackled key files that ensure the safety of the EU citizens! New EU reforms will make roads safer and strengthen road infrastructure management, making it mandatory to take systematic account of pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users. The Romanian Presidency has also successfully negotiated the introduction of new enhanced safety standards for car manufacturers. These measures will have an incredibly large impact in saving lives and reducing road fatalities or serious injuries.