NewsSeptember – WLB

Work-Life-Balance update – onwards and upwards

EU Legislation 

Together with 13 European and international organisations on 5th November (day before a key trilogue), we issued a public statement  highlighting our ambitions and red lines on the EU work-life balance directive. The negotiations between Parliament and Council are in full swing, and they are constructively trying to find an agreement. A trilogue meeting took place on 19th November, and two more trilogues are planned in December with the aim of reaching an agreement under the Austrian Presidency of the EU. In the meantime, key technical and COREPER meetings are taking place. While things are moving more swiftly on paternity leave, the negotiations are stalling on parental leave with European Parliament having higher ambitions than Council which are trying to keep it at 2 months non-transferable (paid at least 1,5 months). As for the proposed 5 days/year of carers leave, this part of the directive is essential to make family carers more visible, and the leave must be adequately compensated. There unfortunately remain diverging views on this in COREPER. This directive is about setting European minimum standards which are compatible with the diversity of systems, alleviating poverty with adequate compensation for all leaves proposed, and reconciling Europe with its families. We call on the co-legislators, under the leadership of Austria, to reach a quality agreement with well-paid leaves. Last week, the FEMM Committee (and the EMPL committee this week) had a post-trilogue discussion to keep Members of European Parliament fully informed on the state of play of the negotiations, which are led by David Casa MEP (Malta, EPP).

Some national actions are being taken across countries both offline and online in support of the directive by NGOs and trade unions. You can see some of these using the #iwantworklifebalance hashtag on Twitter and Facebook – here are some examples in Italy, France, and Germany, as well as general articles fostering debate on work-life balance in Belgium and The Netherlands. Many European partners (especially members of the WLB alliance) are also actively keeping up the campaign momentum on social media, as well as organising events (Eurocarers with the  EP interest group on carers and Women Entrepreneurship Platform in European Parliament).

As for our #iwantworklifebalance social media campaign, it will only end once the directive is adopted. So please keep up the momentum online, translate our message and videos, share the actions of different organisations working together at European and national level to contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

EU initiatives on services

A report was adopted by the European Parliament on “Care services in the EU for improved gender equality”. We wish to congratulate the FEMM Committee for the excellent work and for, once again, showing a clear will to make Europe gender equal. This will help strengthen the care agenda at EU level, providing a mandate to renew European targets on childcare and calling for more recognition/support for family carers as well as promoting independent living. Then of course, you saw in our last newsletter that we have published a paper on the family dimension of long-term care which was further discussed at our COFACE seminar on “Economics at the service of society”. We will keep giving a strong voice to family carers in EU discussions, working to ensure they are adequately supported. See our European Charter for Family Carers for more. Note also that Eurocarers has called for an EU strategy on Carers.

A new cycle of the EU semester has been launched, with the publication of the Annual Growth Survey 2019 and other key documents which sets the agenda for the work ahead in the next 6 months, to drive reforms at national level. It includes different recommendations on services including investments in childcare and long-term care. More here.

COFACE welcomes the work on a Council recommendation on early childhood education and care, which is still in discussion and should be adopted in May 2019 to pave the way for a renewed impetus for developing the supply of quality, accessible and affordable childcare in Europe, essential both for child development and to support the worklife balance of families.