By Yves Roland-Gosselin, Honorary President
For this month’s editorial, it seems fitting to quote part of a speech which I gave in the European Parliament building in the presence of both Commissioner L. Andor and President S. Nilsson on Tuesday 27 March... READ MORE
COFACE’s newly elected President
Annemie Drieskens has been elected President of COFACE on 27th March 2012.
In her inaugural speech in the European Parliament, she expressed her wish that as newly elected President of COFACE she would like to develop further activities in promoting the wellbeing of families, work towards a child and family friendly society with strong social cohesion and special attention to vulnerable families.
"COFACE is open to all family organisations in Europe; all organisations that identify themselves with the aims and values of COFACE are welcome. We must therefore together always search for new members and work further on our pluralism. Knowing our differences and handling them with great respect”, she stated.
COFACE’s new President highlighted the fact that family policy cannot be reduced to one defined political domain but rather is or should be a dimension in every policy domain: i.e. Family mainstreaming.
More information: Read our press release
Annual Report 2011
2011 was a special year for the family dimension at official EU institutional level. Indeed, the Hungarian Presidency organised a whole week around the family and demography themes: a large conference, an expert seminar, the high level group on demography and an informal meeting of the Family Ministers. The Polish Presidency was less directly family-oriented but had an important equal opportunities and reconciliation between family and work content.
COFACE of course took an active part in these events, advocating its pluralistic message, defending the idea of family policies intended to support all families in dignity and freedom, and stressing the difference with population policies.
Download COFACE's Annual Report 2011
New COFACE leaflets
COFACE leaflet in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
COFACE-Disability leaflet in English, French, Italian
European Charter for Family Carers in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Slovak, Bulgarian
"Bio-Garlic Romanes" – a sustainable eco-socio project for the future
The official launch of the "Bio-Garlic Romanes – a sustainable eco-socio project for the future” event was held in Graz, Austria on the 8th of March. The project is the initiative of the European Neighbours association and aims to provide support for Roma families in Central and Eastern European countries through organic garlic production. As strategic partner, COFACE also participated in the event which consisted of a press conference and networking facilities for all involved stakeholders.
In his speech, William Lay, Director of COFACE has emphasized that the original idea of the project goes back to COFACE’s Working Group ‘Family and Social policies’ meeting in Slovakia held two and a half years ago, when a field visit to a Roma camp was organised in Trnava. Since this visit COFACE has not just joined as a strategic partner to the Bio-Garlic Romanes project but also developed a Policy Statement on Romani families and is eager to continue working on this question.
The first pilot planting phase of the project has already started last October with the involvement of 25 Roma families in Slovakia and Croatia. Several cities and municipalities are planning to join the project from Central and Eastern Europe which aims to involve more than 5000 Roma families who live under difficult circumstances.
COFACE’s reaction on the possible revision of regulation on air passenger rights
On 11 March 2012 the European Commission closed the Public consultation on the possible revision of Regulation on air passenger rights. COFACE welcomed the European Commission Report published on 11 April 2011, which proposed, among other things, to clarify the definition of Persons with Reduced Mobility.
The definition included in the Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 "PRM Regulation" states that a ‘disabled person’ or ‘person with reduced mobility’ means any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or age, and whose situation needs appropriate attention and the adaptation to his or her particular needs of the service made available to all passengers.
As this definition includes age and "persons whose situation needs appropriate attention”, COFACE believes that pregnant women, overweight people, young children and elderly persons are covered by that definition and should benefit, upon request, of assistance to meet their specific needs.
COFACE strongly recognises that persons with disabilities, including eventual family carers travelling with them, should have a priority access to airport assistance services but does not consider that extending the scope of the definition would affect the right of persons with disabilities to access these services.
And we must not forget parents with buggies!
Airport facilities should be encouraged to ensure that all persons in need of assistance have access to the appropriate support, taking into account, on a case by case basis, the specific situation of the passenger. | Download the full article
COFACE’s reaction to the EP resolution on equality between women and men in the EU
On 13 March the European Parliament adopted a resolution on equality between women and men in the European Union, based on the report of MEP Sophia in’t Veld (NL-ALDE). COFACE welcomes the resolution and the European Parliament commitment in fostering equality between women and men in the European Union.
In particular, COFACE shares the urgency to effectively improve reconciliation measures, such as care services and flexible time arrangements to balance work and family life. In this regard, COFACE recalls that these can greatly favour women (re)accessing the labour market. Moreover, especially for large and lone families, they strongly support families from the risk of poverty and social exclusion (see COFACE’s Factsheet on Reconciliation Policies).
COFACE also supports the European Parliament’s call to modernise the legislation on leave schemes, in particular the Council to move forward on the Maternity Leave Directive and the Commission to put forward proposals for a Carers’ leave (see COFACE response to the consultation on Carers’ leave).
Finally, COFACE strongly supports the EP resolution in its call "on the Commission and Member States to ensure that men and women caring for children or the elderly receive recognition by giving them individual social security and pension rights”.
However, COFACE recalls that when considering support to carers, in particularly to family carers (including service provision, flexible time arrangement and leave schemes, financial resources), this must not be restricted to care for children of elders but also for all people with disabilities and other forms of dependency, regardless of their age. | Download the full article
European report on the needs of the youngest internet users
On 19 March, European Schoolnet, coordinator of Insafe, the European network of Safer Internet Centres, published a report which examines the needs of the youngest internet users (aged nine and under) in terms of their online safety education.
After a review of the existing material available in the various Insafe network members of EU Member States, the report issues several recommendations on how to provide better material for the youngest internet users including recommendations concerning various actors such as teachers and parents.
The report underlines, among other things, that at an early age "parents and carers are likely to be closely involved with their children’s use of technology. Unless there is good reason for not doing so, all materials designed for this age group should include family support materials."
Meetings of the month
Perspectives on Ageing: High-level Conference on Health and Long-term Care
COFACE took part in the "Perspectives on ageing” conference, the three days conference in Finland on 19-21 March organised by the regional authorities of North Karelia in close cooperation with the European Alliance for Families. This high level conference, under the banner of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations aimed to bring together various stakeholders from Member States of the EU and contribute to the realisation of the Year. Questions on care, ageing and intergenerational solidarity have special importance in the work of COFACE and its member organisations. This has been emphasized in our latest factsheet document on Active ageing for family carers.
COFACE has been collecting good practices on ageing and intergenerational projects since the beginning of 2012 to highlight and showcase them at European level through its communication channels. Furthermore, COFACE’s next Working Group meeting on Communication and Information Exchange will also focus on Intergenerational projects.
Accessibility and participation, full inclusion of disabled people in society
COFACE, represented by its Belgian member AP3, attended the European conference on participation and access for disabled people on 5 and 6 March in Copenhagen. The discussions were set against the backdrop of the benchmark document on inclusion for the disabled – the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
It was argued that the economic crisis requires signatory countries to establish an action plan and priorities for implementing inclusive policies for people with disabilities. Most of the speakers saw no reason why the crisis should stand in the way of implementing structural legislative changes for people with a disability. Research was presented showing that introducing inclusive policies that promote access for and participation by disabled people is good for the economy.
People with disabilities in the audience cautioned against such an overly "economic" approach, pointing out that the United Nations Convention talks about 'rights', not targets, and also stressing the need to cater to less visible groups.
Early school leaving in Europe - Presentation of a member’s Good practice
On 1st and 2nd of March, the European Commission organised a conference on 'reducing early school leaving: efficient and effective policies in Europe". COFACE attended the conference as well as the thematic working group meeting as part of its work programme on Early School Leavers (ESL).
Four workshop sessions were organised on the following topics:
1. Who leaves why and when? Evidence based approaches towards reducing ESL
2. It takes a village to raise a child – cross-sectoral and local cooperation
3. Challenge and chance – Vocational Education and Training and ESL
4. Learning differently
COFACE attended the second workshop and contributed to underlining the importance of the home environment in academic achievement as well as promoting a better communication between home and school.
Anne Alitolppa-Niitamo from the Family Federation of Finland-Väestöliitto (Member of COFACE) was selected to present a good practice on peer support groups for parents with a migrant background. For more information on the Finnish good practice, please click here.
The main objective of the peer support group activity is to strengthen parenting by giving information on the schooling system and on the various ways of communication between home and school. The peer support groups also discuss how parents could support the schooling of their children by creating a ‘culture of learning’ at home.
The next thematic working group meeting will be held in May 2012.
Learning for Well-being: A Policy Priority for Children and Youth in Europe
On 27th February, the Consortium of Foundations in Europe organised a conference on Learning for Well-being. The conference focused on the presentation of the various aspects covered by the policy glossary and a series of workshops to reflect on some key issues: Social innovation, Participative methods and the Systematic approach.
COFACE had the chance to comment on the document and provide input during the elaboration process by underlining certain key aspects that needed to be better taken into account such as the question of child poverty which cannot be dealt separately from the issue of family poverty since in many cases, the situation of poverty of children is a consequence of a poverty stricken household.
For more information on the "learning for well-being" initiative, please visit the following websites:
For more information on COFACE's policy positions and recommendations
19 April: COFACE Seminar on "E-Health: Challenges and opportunities for families" @ the EESC
COFACE will organise a Seminar on E-Health: Challenges and opportunities for families on 19 April 2012 at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels.
Progress in technology has created new opportunities but also new challenges. The main thread of the seminar will be to address the family dimension. Patients are rarely isolated. They are very often surrounded by their family and close relatives. It is not always easy for a family to reconcile their professional and private life in order to care for an ill family member. How can e-health help in this context?
More information | If you wish to attend this event, please contact our Secretariat.
15 May: Presentation of the COFACE-Disability publication on ‘The Family Dimension of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ @ the EP
On the occasion of the International Day of Families on 15 May, COFACE will present together with Ádám Kósa (MEP, Chair of the Disability Intergroup) the new COFACE publication The Family Dimension of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the European Parliament in Brussels.
More information | If you wish to attend this event, please contact our Secretariat.
List of forthcoming events