By Paola Panzeri
During the month of February two important reports, on Women domestic workers and carers in the EU (2015/2094(INI)) and on the application of Parental Leave Directive (2015/2097(INI)) were approved respectively in the FEMM (women’s rights and gender equality) and EMPL (employment and social affairs) Committees of the European Parliament.
COFACE welcomes the initiatives of the rapporteurs MEP Kuneva and MEP Arena for initiating these reports and bringing to light these two major challenges for families in the EU. COFACE is very engaged in both areas of work, at EU level and through its Members who provide advice and services to families.
The issue of women having to go abroad to look for a job, very often in the care sector and leaving their families, children and older parents behind is a growing trend in Europe and, considering the demographic projection, it will continue to grow. Therefore, we can easily imagine that also the number of transnational families will grow in number. However, specific policies to address their needs are still lacking and they will remain in this situation of vulnerability unless we start immediately to consider this as a European issue. The need for a systemic and coordinated response is, indeed, becoming more and more urgent. COFACE has been following this trend for the past few years and has dedicated its last major event, in November 2015 in Sofia (Bulgaria) to transnational families and the impact of economic migration on families.
In the past four years, COFACE has also intensively worked on policies to support families to better reconcile work and family life, and this includes leave provision such as parental leave. COFACE believes that parental leave is a key instrument and has welcomed the Social Partners agreement that led to a Directive. However, having legislation is only the first step because only if this is properly applied, it can have the positive impact that inspired its creation in the first place. For this reason, COFACE has welcomed this parliamentary initiative to recall the importance of monitoring and verifying the application into practice of European legislation. For more information about COFACE’s view on leave provisions and other legislative and soft law initiatives to support families reconciling work and family life, please consult the European Reconciliation Package.
The next steps for these reports will be their adoption with a vote in one of the upcoming plenary sessions of the European Parliament in Strasbourg and COFACE stands for their approval because even if these reports will have no binding obligation, they carry a strong political value. They, indeed, represent and demonstrate, once more, that many of the challenges that families face are shared at EU level and part of the solution may be found by working together for a European response.