The European Care strategy - Related Opinions
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In the opinion, the EESC: calls for a paradigm shift in the treatment of older people, moving from a care-based approach to empowering them and eliminating ageist attitudes; urges the EU to adopt a comprehensive European strategy for older persons, safeguarding their rights and promoting their full participation in society and the economy (the strategy should be accompanied by a guarantee for older persons and encompass various areas such as equality, non-discrimination, gender, rights, participation, employment, education, income and social inclusion, with Member States developing national plans to this end); encourages the drafting and signing of a European declaration on older persons to demonstrate the commitment towards developing the European strategy for older persons.
This opinion underlines that the Social Imbalances Procedure (SIP) would offer an opportunity to improve the coordination of national efforts to achieve upward social convergence. It recommends that the SIP should be integrated into the European Semester, throughout its different phases. The opinion proposes social imbalances to be defined as the critical situations identified by the social scoreboard and clear deviations from the path towards achieving the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan targets. It also suggests that the Commission and the Member States consider making existing rules for funds allocation more flexible so that they can be quickly adapted to current societal challenges and critical situations identified in the implementation of the SIP.
This opinion draws attention to the needs of family members taking care of older, chronic ill or disabled relatives. Informal carers, as they are called, represented by a majority of women, work for free, and are more vulnerable to falling into poverty. The opinion calls for public policies in this field and a recognition of their important societal role.
This opinion presents the EESC's contribution to the current discussion on the future of care and health across Europe and to the European Care Strategy. The Committee recommends setting common minimum standards to ensure that every one living in the EU has access to affordable, accessible and high-quality care, that there is proper investment in the care services and in health, that the health sector, care providers and health workers are properly recognised and valued, including through investment in skills, decent working conditions, and the creation of quality jobs.
This Own-initiative Opinion analyses the structural causes that have led to the elderly care systems in general and to the nursing homes in particular, to become some of the most contagious and lethal factors of this pandemic. To this end, the different systems that exist in EU Member States are compared to learn useful lessons.
In addition, the opinion calls for the need to address the demographic transition as one of the major challenges of the twenty-first century, alongside environmental and digital transitions.
The EESC welcomes both the Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the Child Guarantee, and considers that their implementation will help support efforts at European and national level aimed at promoting children's well-being and reducing child poverty. This opinion calls for the consultation and involvement of organised civil society, children's and family organisations, amongst other stakeholders, in the drafting of national action plans and their monitoring mechanisms. The EESC recommends all Member States to earmark ESF+ funding for lifting children out of poverty, with the designated 5% taken as a minimum. Furthermore, it recommends them to grant free access to early childhood education and care, education and school-based activities and healthcare or grant these services free of charge.
In this opinion the EESC makes the following points:
1. The EU and Member States should ensure that the gender perspective is fully integrated in COVID-19 recovery measures.
2. Gender equality should be fully taken into account in the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
3. The Gender Equality Strategy should be coordinated involving all Member States, social partners and civil society organisations.
4. To put an end to the gender pay gap (16%), binding measures on gender pay transparency are unavoidable.
5. ... Read more
The EU's demographic situation requires a holistic approach that embraces social and economic policies, active labour market and cohesion policies, policies supporting families, measures for ageing workers etc. The best answer to the labour drain related to internal migration is the social and economic upward convergence of Member States. The COVID-19 crisis will strongly affect the policies on demographic challenges. We need urgent measures to protect citizens from the negative effects of this crisis.
The EESC thinks the "work-life balance" package is a step in the right direction, to be further analysed and be improved in the future. Social partners throughout Europe should be encouraged to examine additional practical solutions to promote a work-life balance that suits the specificities of workplaces, particularly in SMEs. Moreover, there is need for investment in high-quality, affordable and available care services and facilities for all families, as well as for tax deductions that help working parents to continue working.
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