Open Letter to the EU Ministers for Employment, Health and Social Affairs
Re: The importance for Member States to adopt and implement, without reservation, the proposed Council Recommendation on access to affordable high-quality long-term care
On 7 September, the European Commission put forward an ambitious and much-awaited EU Care Strategy, including a proposal for a Council Recommendation, which you are due to discuss and endorse at the December EPSCO meeting.
On behalf of the European Parliament’s Informal Carers Interest Group and Eurocarers we respectfully urge you to adopt the Council Recommendation as proposed and without delay.
We believe that the Strategy represents a major step forward in the recognition of the contribution made by informal carers – both to the provision of care across the EU as well as to the economy as a whole. Moreover, the Strategy emphasises the impact of caregiving on informal carers’ social and professional life, it acknowledges that professional care and informal care go hand in hand and it calls on Member States to identify and support informal carers without delay.
The need for a coordinated approach on care and caring has been advocated for over 30 years. It is more urgent than ever as:
- Professional care is – and should remain – the backbone of universal access to good quality care in the EU;
- 80% of all care – usually unpaid – is provided informally by families and friends in the EU today;
- The estimated value of informal care (2,4-2,7% of EU GDP) far exceeds the average EU budget devoted to professional long-term care (1,7% of EU GDP);
- Informal carers often face a variety of challenges when not adequately supported, e.g. in terms of health outcomes, social rights, access to education or employment potential;
- These challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- The growing demand for care, declining supply of carers as well as the challenges related to the adequate provision and financial sustainability of care systems concern all Member States.
The proposed Recommendation provides relevant and timely references to :
- Supporting carers, e.g. via the provision of training, counselling, psychological support, respite care and financial support.
- Facilitating cooperation between formal and informal carers in order to develop care systems, centred around individual needs, preferences and choices.
Against this background, we call on Member States’ governments to swiftly adopt the Commission’s proposals to:
- Put in place national action plans to ensure a relevant and targeted approach, in line with the culture in and state of play of the individual countries, while contributing towards a shared EU-level aim. These plans should include the clear identification of informal carers and their rights, to ensure relevance and support, including financial support.
- Appoint national coordinators to develop and implement these plans and to solidly embed these plans in social protection systems as well as in other policy domains, linking with all stakeholders involved or affected.
- Agree on long term care indicators to be used as part of the European Semester Process and Social Open Method of Cooperation.
In addition, we also call for robust monitoring and assessment systems and measures, both at national and EU levels, based on the dimensions of quality, accessibility and affordability.
Last but not least, we call for the meaningful involvement of relevant stakeholders in the implementation, monitoring, assessment and adaptation of the Strategy and related national plans.
Informal Carers are an indispensable piece of the care puzzle and they need support – the Strategy is a historic opportunity to concretely address these needs.
We hope that you will consider our call favourably and look forward to informing and supporting your implementation efforts in the future.
Sirpa Pietikäinen, MEP
Luke Ming Flanagan, MEP
Marisa Matias, MEP
Sari Tervonen, President Eurocarers
Stecy Yghemonos, Director Eurocarers