On the 24th of November 2020, the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth organied an online event on “Overcoming COVID-19 – jointly developing prospects for strong families”, where representatives of the EU Trio Presidency (Germany, Portugal, Slovenia) and European Commissioners discussed a common vision for family-friendly policies.

Ana Sofia Antunes, Portuguese State Secretary for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, recalled the need to rethink and adopt structural changes in family policies. Juliane Seifert, German State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, added the need to pay a special attention for vulnerable groups such as large families. Lastly, Cveto Uršič, Slovenian State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, expressed his interest in the reconciliation of family and work life, stressing that investment in human capital is essential to face the demographic challenges.

European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, stressed how inequalities for families and children have deepened during the lockdown, which is why “we need more investment in children “. He recalled that, although family policies are a Member State competence, the European Union “can promote programs that have already been submitted by Member States and allocated to social housing: strong families also need good housing conditions”.

Vice-President in charge of Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Suica, shared her concerns for all family members (parents, children, and grandparents), who have been deeply affected by this crisis. She stated that “pandemic clearly showed how difference between cities, regions and families affect children rights”. She already demonstrated her support last week during an online event on European Family Friendly municipalities, organised by the European Large Families Confederation (ELFAC): “These discussions will further help in making our municipalities, cities and regional spaces more resilient and welcoming for children and families in this uncertain COVID-19 times. This is especially so at the time when we are being forced to rethink many of our approaches in light of our new circumstances. Let us make sure together that this reflexion keeps the well-being of our families and children high on the agenda”.

”Our future lies with our children. We need to equip them with the best possible tools to make sure that they feel safe and comfortable and that they can achieve their full potential.”

European Commisson Vice-President in charge of Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Suica

Last June, The European Commission Report on the Impact of Demographic Change recognised that less and less children are being born in the EU, and encouraged regional and local initiatives to provide innovative solutions to tackle the demographic challenges. The European Commission is also committed to ensure a better work-life balance for parents as part of the EU directive on work-life balance for parents and careers (2019) and the European Pillar of Social Rights, alongside additional measures against poverty that will be addressed in the European Social Fund Plus (2021 – 2027) and in the upcoming Child Guarantee.

FAFCE welcomes the statements  of the Trio Presidency to support and further develop family-friendly policies. We hope that these words will not be forgotten in the implementation of the NextGenerationEU, the EU instrument of 750 billion euros that will finance (when adopted) the post-pandemic recovery. Indeed, although attention was paid to education, skills and job, the word family was the big absent from the EU Recovery Plan. FAFCE and its Members will continue to monitor and encourage any  steps taken towards renewed family and demographic policies.

Learn more about FAFCE work to support family policies in Europe: