European Alliance for Families
Demographic change and the ageing of Europe's population is mainly the result of rising life expectancy and low birth rates. While rising life expectancy is a major achievement, the very low birth rates observed in many EU Member States seem to indicate that the conditions for raising a family – a key life goal for most Europeans – are too difficult. In this context, family-friendliness is becoming an increasingly important element of European Union policies. In particular the compatibility of family and career will play an important role in Europe’s future economic and social development. In an effort to meet these challenges, the EU heads of state and government, at the European Summit of 8 and 9 March 2007, decided to establish a European Alliance for Families.
The aim of the Alliance is to create impulses for more family-friendly policies through exchanges of ideas and experience in the various Member States and to foster cooperation and fruitful learning from each other in the European Union.
The Alliance is based on the recognition that there is a need to improve the living conditions for Europeans who want to raise a family. Low birth rates, high levels of child poverty and a significant gender gap in terms of labour market participation and earnings show how difficult it is, particularly for women, to realise the desire to raise children and to give them the best possible start in life and to combine family life with a normal working career.
The fact that this idea of a European Alliance for Families was immediately accepted across the EU demonstrates a willingness to review the traditional ways in which families are supported and to work together on the modernisation of family policies. This implies notably a shift in emphasis from cash benefits to forms of family support that help mothers and fathers to reconcile their professional and private lives. Better reconciliation has to be achieved through the provision of childcare (and increasingly also elderly care) and through family-friendly work organisation and working time arrangements.
By providing information on family policy issues across the EU,
this portal aims to support the key players in the Member States –
government officials, service providers, social partners and
representatives of civil society organisations – in their efforts
to create better conditions for all European families.
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