On October 22nd, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on “Employment and social policies of the Euro area 2020” which recognises the vital importance of families and offers specific improvements in four different areas, as described in following paragraphs.
As it is widely known, pandemic only exposes already existing difficulties families face especially in regard to achieving work-life balance. This new Resolution of European Parliament could yield meaningful innovations in that area. The European Parliament called the Commission to propose an EU teleworking agenda to ensure “decent working conditions including respect for working hours, leave, work-life balance and the right to disconnect” with specific emphasis on “parents with children, single parents and informal carers providing continuous care to dependent relatives”. Not only did the European Parliament recognise specific difficulties families were facing during COVID-19 pandemic in particular in “reconciling work and family life when teleworking”, but the EP also underlined “the importance of appropriate childcare solutions”.
Tax justice for families
Given the fact that families are providing society with economic and social services by themselves, due to all different types of intergenerational care and help they perform, it is encouraging to see that the European Parliament recognized the same in its Resolution. As a result of concern “about limited intergenerational social mobility and increasing income inequality” European Parliament stressed that Member States should “design their national tax and benefit systems in a way that reduces inequalities, promotes fairness, protects households and families”.
Future of Europe: children’s well-being and demographic trends
Apart from stressing the need to help families, European Parliament devoted special attention to children’s well-being. In particular that would involve “calls for use of all opportunities in the 2021-2027 MFF for investing in children to be taken up” including developing “the potential added value of the EU child guarantee when combating poverty as well as harmful negative trends related to demographic change in Europe”.
On the level of Member States European Parliament would encourage and incentivise the establishment of “ European and national action plans to ensure children’s access to the five key social rights – access to free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition”.
Access to childcare facilities
The Resolution pointed out the question of childcare facilities and called Member States to “provide accessible and affordable quality childcare and early education services” including short- and long-term care facilities for elderly and people with disabilities. This proposal would facilitate women’s access in the labour market accompanied by implementation of the Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers and EU framework for care services to set minimum standards and quality guidelines.
European Health Union
Additional novelty of this Resolution is a call for creation of a European Health Union which would devote special attention “to the provision of healthcare and treatment for the elderly”. On the level of Member States, the Parliament is calling for “access to high-quality people-centred and accessible healthcare” and welcomes the shift in the European Semester from cost-saving to performance orientation and health outcomes for healthcare.
After all the hardship families went through during this pandemic it is a refreshing moment to read these statements in favour of a more family friendly EU. FAFCE will continue to monitor the EU Institutions so that these principles may be implemented, continuously calling to place the family at the centre of employment and social policies.