On the International Day of Families 2018, the United Nations is celebrating  families and inclusive societies, highlighting the role of families and family policies in advancing Sustainable Development. On this occasion, COFACE Families Europe is celebrating its 60th anniversary looking back at the achievements of family organisations in Europe, and starting from there to build a sustainable future for all families.


The history of COFACE is intertwined with the history of the European Union. COFACE was born in 1958 as a separate arm of the International Union of Family Organisations, following the creation of the European Economic Community. In this context, the family was considered a ’consuming unit’. COFACE members mainstreamed the family perspective beyond consumer policy, namely in the social, education, and disability fields. COFACE members followed the evolution of society through the years, with a formal shift from “the family” to “families”.

Today, COFACE Families Europe is an open and pluralistic network of national/regional organisations representing families in their diversity, striving to build a ‘better society for all families’ driven by solidarity, non-discrimination and equal opportunities. These values guide actions at EU level to support the implementation of key agendas such as the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the international obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. COFACE members create synergies both internally and externally through their wide range of expertise spanning different areas: from social policy to education, financial inclusion, disability, care/support, gender equality, migration, consumer issues, safer internet and data protection.

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility: “I warmly congratulate COFACE on its 60th anniversary. COFACE is a great promoter of families, of social progress and inclusion. As Commission we do what we can on the European level. But COFACE knows best what families want. I hope the next sixty years will be as fruitful, and as social, as the previous sixty”.

Looking to the future, Annemie Drieskens, COFACE Families Europe President: More than ever, pluralistic civil society organisations like COFACE need broad support to promote core European values, and to build bridges between local and EU level. Family organisations are essential for democracy holding governments at all level accountable. They are watchdogs and agents of change drawing attention to the emerging needs of families. Together they strive for the respect and implementation of fundamental rights and a better society for all European families”. This commitment must be reflected in the future ambitions of the European Union, in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

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COFACE has published a series of drawings illustrating 30 milestones of its history, as well as a digital exhibition with real pieces of history. Find all the material here: www.coface-eu.org/60-anniversary

See also: International Day of Families

Read our article written for Caritas Europe “COFACE Families Europe celebrates 60 years building the puzzle of an inclusive society piece by piece”

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