4th of April 2022,
On the 24th of March 2022, The European Commission introduced at the European Parliament its “European Care Strategy”, to improve the lives of carers and their dependants. The Commission was represented by Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Suica, Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, and Commisionner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmidt.
Vice-President Suica stated: “Care concerns everyone, every generation, from the very young to the very old. We all receive care at a point of our life”. She specifically stressed the care challenges associated with the demographic change in Europe, which creates unprecedented needs of long-term care. This demand however requires a younger generation to support it in the long run.
Vice-President Dalli mentioned the struggle for carers to achieve a satisfying work-life balance, especially women. In that perspective, the European Commission will include in the European Care Strategy a revision of the Barcelona targets, i.e. the availability of high quality and affordable childcare facilities for young children from birth to compulsory school age in the EU.
Commissionner Schmidt raised the difficult experience of rural areas when it comes to the accessibility and the affordability of care services.
In parallel, the European Commission launched a public consultation to gather the contribution of civil organisations on the Strategy. FAFCE welcomed the initiative of the Commission and contributed to the consultation:
The pandemic brought to light the structural weaknesses of our care systems in Europe, and the much-needed reforms. At the same time, it highlighted the resilience of the unpaid care produced by families. A structural shift is needed in the way care is perceived, starting with the recognition of the care role of families, as the first partner of public institutions when it comes to care. This recognition also supposes for the EU and its Member-States to invest in informal forms of care provided by the family.
Our Federation wishes to bring to the attention of the European Commission several points:
- Informal family care is the most common form of care, however overlooked;
- The work-life balance of parents and carers requires a flexible labour market;
- Women carers provide a higher share in care work, yet face additional discriminations;
- Families in remote and rural areas face additional difficulties in the access to care services;
- Family networks and family associations are key to support the care role of families;
- Intergenerational solidarity is a sustainable solution for the increased need sustainable long-term care in Europe;
- Intergenerational solidarity is only possible with a demographic balance.
The European Care Strategy is planned to be adopted on the first week of September 2022.