Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO)
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The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) is composed of employment, social protection, consumer protection, health and equal opportunities ministers, who meet around four times a year.
It is the task of the European Community to raise the standard of living and quality of life of its citizens, notably through high-quality jobs and high levels of social protection, health protection and protection of consumers' interests, while at the same time guaranteeing equal opportunities for all its citizens.
In these fields, the Council usually decides by qualified majority, acting together with the European Parliament under the codecision procedure (social security is an exception: here the Council acts unanimously). It adopts European rules to harmonise or coordinate national laws, in particular on working conditions (workers' health and safety, social security, employee participation in the running of companies), strengthening of national policies to prevent illness and combat the major health scourges and protection of consumers' rights.
Since employment and social protection polices remain the responsibility of the Member States, the Community's contribution is confined to setting common objectives for all the Member States, analysing measures taken at national level and adopting recommendations to the Member States.
Within the Council, and in particular in the framework of the Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee, Member States can exchange ideas and information or share the results of their own experiences.