Demographic Changes : Commission Communicates without Making Proposals
The European Commission, on 10 May, adopted a new communication to help member states meet the challenges of demographic change. It looks at how Europeans can achieve a better work-life balance and how best to support families so they can have the number of children they desire. The communication highlights three areas where member states, social partners and civil society, as well as the EU, can play an important role in achieving a better work-life balance:
- financial support to cope with the costs of raising a family
- quality care services, both for children and for the dependent elderly
- flexible working time, with appropriate work schedules and leave arrangements.
However, the Commission generally avoids mentioning new methods for making progress, relying instead on those which have already been announced and which are above all aimed at exchanging knowledge, experience and research: the European Alliance for Families to set up a high-level group of government experts on demographic issues in June; the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions to collect information on successful policies at local level; and funding from the Seventh Framework Research Programme. The only further clarification in the document is the possibility of applying for funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) to pay for better child care. …