Although family policies do not fall within the remit of the European Union, the EU may nevertheless enact legislation on balancing work and family life, equality at work between women and men, and child protection and development.
When it comes to knowledge of demographic situations and trends, at all the various geographical levels, evaluation of family-friendly policies - including both national policies and the family policies implemented by local authorities - and the exchange of good practice between Member States, the EU also has a valuable role to play.
Today, a number of initiatives and related funding arrangements are being developed under the leadership of the European Union.
It would be desirable for these to be better integrated and placed under the authority of - or at the least coordinated by - one body responsible for defining an overall policy and determining priorities for action and research. The role of conductor and coordinator could be divided between the European Commission, specifically via the European Alliance for Families, for the more policy-related aspects of coordination and management, and Eurofound, for the more scientific aspects.
Many of the policies determined at EU level have a direct impact on family life.
It would therefore be desirable for studies analysing the impact of legislation on families to be carried out systematically at European level, so as to avoid any such negative side effects on families.
The Committee firmly supports the idea of making 2014 the European Year for Families.