In 2018 COFACE Families Europe celebrated its 60th anniversary. In 1958, a year after the creation of the European Economic Community, family organisations joined forces and started defending the family as a consumer-unit in Europe! The years to follow COFACE members pushed for a “family policy” and mainstreamed the family dimension beyond consumer policy into the economic, social, education and disability fields. Today COFACE Families Europe is an open and pluralistic network. From 6 founding organisations we moved to 50+ member organisations. We shifted from the “family” to “families” as we represent millions of families in their diversity. We also celebrated the 20 years of COFACE Disability, as well as our 10th anniversary of successful partnership with the European Commission!
Our Annual Report 2018 shows clearly the wide range of expertise of our members and the activities we organised together: a series of successful European events and a conference “Building sustainable and future proof education systems“. We advocated for a safer internet for kids, and we adopted and promoted 13 digitalisation principles and core values to ensure digitalisation serves the general interest of all EU families. The #Iwantwork-lifebalance campaign was our main advocacy action in 2018 together with a broad Alliance of European NGOs, and helped by our Penguins, we supported the work-life balance package initiated by European Commissioner Marianne Thyssen. We worked day and night to convince the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to approve this first concrete legislative proposal of the European Pillar of Social Rights. We called on the European Parliament and the Council to seize the opportunity to meet the needs of families and we urged them to support and approve the Work-life balance directive without watering it down, we raised awareness of the need for fathers to be more involved in care, with the ambition to close the gender care gap.
Throughout the year there were tough moments – securing an agreement on the EU work-life balance directive was a road full of hurdles, and for all the progress we have made, we know we are not there yet: the challenges that tomorrow will bring are huge. We learned that change only happens when people get involved, get engaged and come together. And after 60 years we still believe that it is the beating heart of our organisation. I thank my colleagues of the board of COFACE and all our members for their active involvement and nice cooperation, I thank all our members for their engagement and our partners for their support. Especially thanks to our remarkable staff based in Brussels. More than ever, pluralistic civil society organisations like ours need broad support to promote core European values. We are the watchdogs and agents of change drawing attention to the emerging needs of families.
Annemie Drieskens, President of COFACE Families Europe