Support for families ‘essential for more growth and jobs’

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The Commission is urging action on  better gender-equality policies and support for families so that Europeans can have the number of children they want and pursue a successful career, to counter the ageing population and reach the Lisbon targets of more growth and jobs.

The Commission adopted, on 10 May 2007, a Communication on ‘Promoting solidarity between the generations’ examining how best to support families so that, in particular, women no longer have to choose between having children and a career. The objective is to curb declining birth rates.

The EU executive calls on member states, social partners and civil society to help support this goal with:

  • Financial support to cope with the costs of raising a family; 
  • quality care services, both for children and for the dependent elderly, and; 
  • flexible working time.

“Women continue to bear the lion’s share of care responsibilities, so unless we put a stronger emphasis on gender equality and equal opportunities, low birth-rates will persist, Europe will not meet its employment targets and we will not achieve our goal for a more prosperous and inclusive Europe,” said Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimír Špidla.

The Communication points to big differences among the EU-27, in particular with regards the provision of childcare and social spending on families and children and states that the European Alliance for Families (see EURACTIV 12 March 2007) will act as a platform for the exchange of knowledge and experience between member states on family-firendly policies. A high-level group of government experts on demographic issues is expected to be set in June 2007. 

The move is part of a follow-up to the Communication on the demographic future of Europe, published in October 2006 (see EURACTIV 12 October 2006), which sets the promotion of demographic renewal as one of the ways of meeting the demographic challenge of an ageing population.

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