COFACE not only studies how families live and the challenges they face, but also aims to address how policy might be shaped to try and make the lives of men, women and children happier, and the decisions they make easier. In 2010 COFACE initially proposed that 2014 should be a year to focus on family well-being. Having advocated strongly since this initial proposal, COFACE and its members have now received positive reactions from the European Parliament and the European Commission to have 2014 designated the European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life. Whilst one focus of the year aims to match people’s skills to jobs, it also aims to improve the well-being and lives of European citizens. COFACE hopes that 2014 will mark a year of positive change for families in Europe.
The current issues families face
With European families feeling increasing stretched to reconcile their family and work life balance the 2014 CAMPAIGN European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life hopes to provide the opportunity to concentrate on work and family life balance policies which are impacted and challenged by European trends. Demographic challenges such as inequality, social exclusion, and lack of economic efficiency mean that work and family reconciliation policies must be typical throughout employment, social services, social security and education policies, both at National and European level. Family and work life balance policies also need to promote gender equality so that women can participate in the labour market more easily and flexi-time arrangements are available.
The Campaign’s central themes and aims
2014 CAMPAIGN European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life will have four core themes which aim to ensure work family life balance, improve social integration, address child and family poverty and provide quality employment which will include care services, satisfactory wages, job security and working conditions which acknowledge family life. The 2014 European Year aims to continue pursuing previous policy aims such as 2010 the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, 2011 the European Year of Volunteering, 2012 the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, and 2013 the European Year of Citizens. The 2014 European Year also aims to fulfil the following objectives: to increase awareness of European and EU Member states reconciliation policies, to seek new political commitment to respond to familial challenges, to initiate social engagement and good practices on family and work life reconciliation policies, and to evaluate and encourage family friendly policies and their implementation.
On 7th February 2013 over half of the European Parliament (388 signatures) officially supported the declaration which calls for 2014 to be European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life. With support from the Irish, Lithuanian and Greek Presidency and authorisation from the European Parliament, COFACE and its members are making a strong case to the President of the EU Commission and heads of Member States that 2014 should be officially designated as European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life. Updates on the campaign’s progress and analytical engagement with the relevant issues can be found on the blog and further information regarding the 2014 campaign and Confederation COFACE can be found on their website.