European Parliament Interest Group on Carers
Meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers on "Work-life balance: A new EU initiative" - Brussels, 15 June 2016
On 15 June 2016, a meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers took place. It addressed the new Commission initiative to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families.
The main rationale for this initiative is the fact that women tend to work less hours in paid employment and spend more time in fulfilling unpaid care responsibilities. It will address the low labour market participation of women by adapting the current EU legal and policy framework to today's labour market to allow for parents with children or with dependent relatives to better balance caring and professional responsibilities.
The initiative, aiming at increasing the participation of women in the labour market through better work-life reconciliation, appropriate protection and strengthened gender equality will therefore contribute to the priority of the Commission on growth and jobs. The initiative specifically addresses carers and underlines that there is a ‘strong economic case for supporting the participation of women-carers in the labour market, both by protective measures and work-life balance policies: they can help to boost employment, contribute to resolve emerging labour market shortages and address fiscal challenges arising from demographic ageing without imposing any specific preference on parents and those caring for depending relatives for organising their family life. They also contribute to reducing the risk of poverty and social exclusion of people with caring responsibilities’. The initiative also links in well with the European Semester Process.
Given the relevance of this initiative, the meeting served to:
• Inform participants of the new work/life balance initiative and its state of play;
• discuss how this initiative could best address carers and their work/life balance needs, in order to ensure that it will reflect and address their issues in the most appropriate and helpful way.
Presentation - The need for an EU inititiative to facilitate work/life balance - Robert Anderson, Eurofound.
The Report of the meeting is available here.
Joint Meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers and the Interest Group on Mental Health, Well-being and Brain Disorders - Brussels, 12 January 2016
On 12 January 2016, a Joint Meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers and the Interest Group on Mental Health, Well-being and Brain Disorders has been held in the European Parliament, in Brussels.
The meeting aimed to address the issues faced by carers providing care to people affected by mental health disorders.
Basis for the meeting was EUFAMI’s recent ’Caring4carers’ survey on this topic, carried out by LUCAS, the Centre for Care Research and Consultancy of the University of Leuven. This survey, which has a strong focus on the experiences of carers for persons with severe mental illness, clearly demonstrates the areas where these need support.
Background to the survey is the fact that recent reforms in mental health care are seeing a gradual move away from hospital-based to community care; therefore the demands on family carers has increased. Over the past decades there has been some scientific survey-based research data documenting the carer burden. However, the research is limited, not recent and often based on single country examples. ‘Caring 4carers’ was specifically designed to address this evidence gap and assess the experiences of family carers in caring for a relative with severe mental illness, from an international perspective.
The joint Interest Group meeting served to:
- Inform participants of the outcome of the EUFAMI survey;
- Hear about the experiences of carers;
- Discuss what the EU level can do to ensure more awareness of this topic and more policy attention, both in existing initiatives as well as in future actions.
Please find the report of the Meeting here.
Meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers on "Family vs. state responsibility in long-term care provision - The feasibility of one model" - Brussels, 6 May 2015
The EP Interest Group on Carers and Eurocarers met on the 6th May and addressed family vs. state responsibility for long-term care across the EU.
Despite the huge variety of approaches, challenges and levels of progress, all Member States are engaged in political discussions on this topic. While the EU cannot legislate in this area, it can facilitate discussion and exchange of good practice and experience and the area of long term care seems to lend itself well for this type of informal cooperation.
A comprehensive meeting report is available here.
Meeting of the EP Interest Group on Carers and EU action in the field of social exclusion - Brussels, 4 February 2015
Since 2009, the number of people living in poverty and social exclusion has increased by 10 million in the EU, now amounting to over 124 million, or one in four people. Unpaid carers are disproportionally affected by poverty and social exclusion. Disability, the impact of reducing employment to care, higher utility and household costs and discriminatory or altogether missing social security protection for unpaid carers indeed all contribute to a faster cycle of financial and social poverty. At the same time, demographic challenges increase demand for informal care and economic policy in many European nations reduces public service provision. These trends place unpaid carers in a vicious and deepening cycle of poverty.
The meeting provided an opportunity to showcase the specific example of Scotland but evidence is available to demonstrate the negative financial impact of caring in most EU member states. The EU context for work was also depicted with relevant entry points in the EU2020 Strategy, Social OMC, Social Investment Package and Structural Funds. The potential offered by a call for a Carers Leave Directive as well as by an own Initiative report on long term care/carers (both supported by participating MEPs) was welcomed by participants.
The conclusions of the meeting underlined the need to explore preventive measures and to bear in mind the three key trends – i.e. increasing care demand, decreasing care supply and limited budget – which set the context for progress.
To read a summary report of this meeting, please click here.
Presentation - Carers and social exclusion, The Coalition of Carers in Scotland, C. Cairns
Presentation - Carers in EU initiatives on poverty and social inclusion, EC, R. Jacob/S. Matzke
First formal meeting of the EP Interest Group on Carers in the new EP - Brussels, 15 October 2014
On 15th October 2014, the first formal meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers in the new Parliament has taken place.
The main aim has been to discuss the Social Protection Committee report ‘Adequate social protection for long-term care needs in an ageing society’ and to explore the possibilities for further action and concrete policy initiatives in the field.
The report of the meeting is available here.
Meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers on work/life balance - Brussels, 9 April 2014
The first part of the meeting addressed the EU Carers Strategy campaign, which was launched by the Interest Group and Eurocarers in October 2013. Marian Harkin, one of the co-chairs of the Interest Group, underlined the importance of an EU-level strategy, as there many overarching issues which are shared by all Member States such as:
- The impact of caring on the physical and emotional well-being;
- The risk of poverty, due to inadequate pension contributions as a result of leaving or reducing paid employment in order to care – carers risk being the next generation of poor older people;
- The need to integrate formal and informal care provision, as a basis for sustainable care systems.
The second part of the meeting focused on carers and work/life balance.
To access the Meeting report, click here.