The European Parliament Interest Group on Carers met on 20th October and addressed the topic ‘Carers in the European Semester Process’.
Long-term care is increasingly becoming an important issue on the Member States’ health and social policy agendas.
This is one of the striking findings of last summer’s Social Protection Committee report addressing long term care: even though Long-Term Care is an area in which diversity amongst member states is greatest, all member states face the same challenges - a growing demand, declining supply of potential (professional and informal) carers, the quality challenge and the financing challenge. In our opinion, the fact that these challenges are consistent across all member states suggests that there is at the least a possibility of greater convergence over the coming years. Long term care involves the provision of both formal (paid) care as well as informal (unpaid) care. The focus of the meeting was mainly on informal care provision. 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.
Since 2011, the European Commission's country-specific recommendations for economic reforms in member states – as part of the European Semester process - are increasingly targeting health and long-term care systems, with financial sustainability as the key words. Therefore, the European Semester Process could potentially function as a helpful tool to ensure an EU-level as well as national focus on long term care, and, more specifically, on the indispensable role and contribution of carers to the long-term care provision. Therefore, the Co-chairs of the Interest Group on Carers and Eurocarers wanted to explore how this Process can be strengthened in terms of its focus on long term care and discuss what could be done in practice to facilitate this.
A comprehensive meeting report is available here.