Social Priorities hidden but reinforced under von der Leyen European Commission

Brussels, 11th September 2019, MEDIA RELEASE

COFACE Families Europe responds with proposal for a New EU Deal for Families of Today to support implementation of new Commission mandate.

On 10th September, President-elect Ursula von der Leyen presented her team and the new structure of the next European Commission, reflecting the priorities and ambitions set out in her Political Guidelines.

At first sight, the new Commission seems to have dropped the European Social Agenda altogether – no Commissioner-designate has a “social affairs” in their job title. But on closer look, social priorities get an upgrade as they are spread across different Commissioners. While this can pave the way for making them cross-cutting priorities for the European Union, this can also lead to confusion and overlap of tasks.

We can find important social agendas in four main portfolios:

  • The Demography portfolio of Dubravka Šuica (Croatia) is equivalent to appointing a European Families Commissioner, with an explicit focus on reconciling work and family life and supporting people throughout their careers, action on the long-term impacts of ageing, building a Child Guarantee as well as a comprehensive strategy on the rights of the child protecting vulnerable children both offline and online.
  • The Economics and Finance portfolio of Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia) is about creating an “Economy that works for the people”, with a view to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights.
  • The Jobs portfolio of Nicolas Schmit (Luxembourg) is about implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights through a wide range of employment and social actions to ensure access to sufficient resources as well as working towards a European Child Guarantee as a tool to fight poverty and ensure children have access to basic services.
  • The Equality portfolio of Helena Dalli (Malta) focuses on closing the gender care gap through monitoring of the EU Work-Life Balance Directive implementation, includes the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensuring EU accession to the Istanbul Convention.

The demographic transition and evolving family patterns, coupled with low economic growth, increasing digitalisation of our lives and an ever-changing labour market, are placing pressure on families. There is an urgent need to design welfare policies to support families through a smart social safety net based on access to adequate resources, services and time.

“We believe that this very first gender-balanced Commission will be in a position to deliver a strong agenda for families in all their diversity. Our New EU Deal for Families of Today and our call for economics at the service of society are in line with the ambitions of President Ursula von der Leyen. COFACE Families Europe is ready for a strong partnership to support implementation of this mandate.” says Annemie Drieskens, COFACE Families Europe President.

The New EU Deal for Families of Today contains key short-term demands to be achieved by the new European Commission, which are to be seen as concrete steps to meet the long-term goals of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. They reflect the needs and challenges of families of today in all their diversity, and call for a mix of European actions (policy, legislation, funding, benchmarking, innovation) to drive real and lasting change through tangible results.

It is on this basis that we will closely measure and monitor the actions of this Commission to ensure it delivers on the results promised.



– European Commission press release:

– Commissioners-designated portfolios:

– Full press conference Ursula von der Leyen:


More information contact Isabell Wutz, Communication Officer:



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