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Work-life balance Part 2: An ambitious new EU deal for childcare

MEDIA RELEASE, 17th December 2018

It is the ambition of COFACE Families Europe to achieve a reconciliation economy and society by developing policies around three axes: access to Resources, Services and Time. These three dimensions are covered in the package of measures on Work-life Balance proposed by the European Commission in April 2017 as first concrete outcome of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The proposal for an EU work-life balance directive covers aspects of Time: family leaves and flexible work arrangements) and Resources (through adequate payment for the family leaves). As this proposal is in its final stages of discussion between Commission, Council and European Parliament, COFACE Families Europe, helped by its members and a strong Alliance of European NGOs, is pushing for prompt adoption to ensure minimum EU standards as a cornerstone for the future. In the meantime, these common actions are already driving national reforms on paternity, parental and carers leave in different EU Member States.

Families need adequately paid leaves but they also rely on care Services every day. These services are crucial for their chances to reconcile the different aspects of their lives such as family, work, care, leisure, education, as stated clearly in the European Commission package on work-life balance, which also included proposals for boosting investment in reconciliation Services such as long-term care and early childhood education and care. While we continue to support EU and national discussions in the fields of disability and long-term care through various initiatives to build 21st century community-based services for families, we call on the European Union to show leadership by boosting the supply of accessible, affordable and quality childcare.

“Adequately paid family and care leaves tackled by the EU work-life balance directive combined with childcare, are key building blocks to ensure a decent quality of life for families. Coherence and continuity between both is essential to ensure there are no gaps in support to families and no families left behind. It is therefore time for Europe to set clear targets and invest in 21st century childcare” says Annemie Drieskens, President of COFACE Families Europe

Our recent paper proposes certain key elements for A new EU deal for childcare:

  • The need for a systemic two-generation approach to childcare both as an investment in the health and education of children and as a support to parents in reconciling work and family life;
  • Key EU frameworks which support investment in childcare, with an important role for revised Barcelona targets;
  • The multiple benefits of childcare as a measure to support child wellbeing, education and cognitive development, a social inclusion measure that prevents and reduces poverty and social exclusion, and an crucial employment support measure for parents;
  • The childcare that families want: it has to be accessible, affordable and of high quality; it has to be diverse, and adapted to the emerging realities in the world of work; it must be available for children below 3 years of age;
  • Recommendations for a #ECEC2030 Roadmap to guide the development of a 2030 agenda for childcare based on a mix of policy, targets, funding and monitoring.

With such a new deal, COFACE Families Europe would be ready to take up the challenge to support actions at EU, national, regional and local level to make accessible, affordable and quality childcare reality, leaving no child behind.

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Contact person: Isabell Wutz, Communication Officer, COFACE Families Europe: iwutz@coface-eu.org

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Note to the editor

COFACE Families Europe is a European network of civil society associations representing the interests of families (all types, without discrimination). COFACE’s areas of work include social/family policy, education, disability, gender equality, migration, consumer issues, and also protection of children online, privacy, data protection and reflections on technological developments and how they may impact families. More: www.coface-eu.org

Additional information:
COFACE position: “Families on the Edge” (2017)
European Commission worklife balance package (2017)
#iwantworklifebalance campaign launched in 2017
Alliance for Investing in Children: “The Post-2020 MFF Must Invest In Children And Aim To End Child Poverty” (2017)
COFACE position: “Long-term care: The family dimension” (2018)
European Parliament report: “Care services in the EU for improved gender equality” (2018)