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The second stage of the consultation of the social partners at European level on possible action addressing the challenges of work-life balance faced by working parents and caregivers is still ongoing. Nevertheless, according to our sources it reveals extremely difficult to reach a consensus between social partners on an EU-level initiative on carer’s leave. As a result, the chair of the EMPL Committee at the EP has been instructed to draft a letter to the responsible Commissioners jointly with the FEMM Chair inviting them to submit as soon as possible a legislative proposal following the failure of the social partners to reach an agreement.

Against this backdrop, Eurocarers and other relevant civil society organisations (including trade unions) are stepping up coordination in order to align their messaging and strategy on what to do next. Politically speaking though, it seems that there is limited room for manoeuvre left, which is why most of the secretariat’s efforts now focus on informing trade unions on the ‘win-wins’ of carer-friendly work environments for both carers and companies.

To do so, DG ECFIN’s recent Report on Health Care and Long-Term Care Systems & Fiscal Sustainability comes handy since it clearly states that Informal care helps increase the sustainability of LTC systems but can have a significant personal impact on the carers themselves. EU Member States should ensure that policies to support informal carers are consistently implemented.[…]Member States have set up a number of measures to support informal carers, including carer allowances, increasing giving carers the right to carers leave and flexibility of employment in order to keep them attached to the labour market, respite care, counselling as well as information and training. There is however variation in the breadth and depth of these measures across EU Member States, which emphasises the potential for improving support for informal carers.

Eurocarers will also keep pushing at Parliament and Commission level but already anticipates a probable neutral position by the EC as a result of this complex process. This might translate into a non-legislative (i.e. non-binding) EU initiative on the topic.