© Yves Damien, Fotolia
The declining and ageing population has a major impact on Europe's society and economy. At the Council for Employment and Social Affairs on 17 June, ministers discussed policies which encourage the reconciliation of work and family life in the context of demographic change.
In order to face the demographic challenges and to respond to businesses' employment needs, it is crucial to meet the target of a female employment rate of 75% set by the EU. This is necessary if the Union is to remain competitive and if Europe is to continue to function well. This goal, however, cannot be achieved without sustainable family policies which guarantee gender equality at work and a more family-friendly work-life balance in the labour market.
In the conclusions adopted by the Council, several measures were proposed to tackle barriers to reconciling professional and private life. These measures included:
- the promotion of flexible working arrangements and various forms of leave for both women and men (parental leave, possibility to work part-time)
- the sufficient supply of affordable, high-quality childcare services and care facilities for other dependants
- encouraging employers to offer their employees childcare and other forms of family support
- taking into consideration the needs of families, and in particular those which are most vulnerable, including large or single-parent families.
The presidency also informed member states about the informal meeting of ministers responsible for family affairs on 1 April in Hungary, and took note of a Trio-declaration signed on this occasion by the Spanish, Belgian and Hungarian Presidency, together with the incoming Polish Presidency, on the impacts of the reconciliation of work and family life on demographic dynamics.
Press release (pdf)
Council conclusions (pdf)
Trio declaration (pdf)
European Alliance for Families