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All the speakers of the event organised in the European Parliament emphasised the importance of implementing family-friendly policies.
The 15th of May marked the International Day of Families. This year’s theme was “Families and inclusive societies” which focused on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. The International Day of Families inspired a series of events in different European countries and also in the European institutions.
One of the events took place in the European Parliament.
“The main source of solidarity is family”
Several MEPs from different political groups, as well as European leaders of family policy organisations were among the speakers. The unique and fundamental function of the family in society was emphasised, as well as its pivotal role for the future of Europe.
Branislav Skripek, MEP said: “Have you ever stopped and thought what a remarkable invention the family is? …No society can manage without this fundamental design.”
“The family is an irreplaceable formation place of physical, emotional and intellectual growth”, Luigi Morgano, MEP added.
Gyorgy Holvényi, MEP noted: “Without family, Europe will not exist for long. And for us the biggest challenge is how to keep the role of the family outside of the ideological debate”.
“The main source of solidarity is family. True inclusion is built on the ability of people to stand side by side: healthy and sick, poor and rich…. Over the last decades the family in Europe had to face many challenges. My experience has taught me that laws and policies should not only reflect a reality, but also pursue an ideal,” said Anna Záborská, MEP.
The Demographic Winter
However, several family policy organisations have sounded a clear alarm bell about the “demographic winter” forecast for all European countries.
The Robert Schuman Foundation published a study in February 2018 entitled “Europe 2050: Demographic Suicide.” The document begins by expressing grave concerns: “A deafening silence surrounds Europe's demographic suicide, projected for 2050…. In fact, no one mentions these alarming numbers, especially not in Brussels. … In what follows, we reveal how economic growth and productivity have not been linked to key indicators in population figures”.
This troubling report points out that not a single EU Member State has a replacement birth rate. This will have grave economic and social consequences, such as fewer active workers, smaller pensions, higher taxes, increased health expenditures, and significantly more empty households.
The fact that the population in Europe is aging dramatically is also acknowledged in the European Parliament Think Tank’s Demographic outlook for the European Union.
However, Charles de Marcilly from the Schuman Foundation has not lost hope: “Although Europe’s demographic [winter] has already been announced, there is still time”.
After all, a good forecast is not necessarily one that takes place but rather one that leads to action avoiding it.
What can be done?
All the speakers of the event organised in the European Parliament emphasised the importance of implementing family-friendly policies – policies that do more than just provide social support, but work toward promoting families as a way of pursuing the common good of European society as a whole.
Such policies would therefore be a long-term investment.
“The support of maternity, schedule flexibility, streamlining work schedules, the possibility of a continuous work day or partial work day, the reduction of the working day, or working from home are fundamental elements for a true and effective reconciliation of work and family life” said Lola Velarde, from the Institute for Family Policies.
“Deep down, a dynamic society relies upon the same fundamentals as economics and demographics. In other words, the desire to live is expressed through economic initiatives and raising children. Somehow, the entrepreneurial spirit remains closely linked to the family spirit”, concludes the Schuman Foundation study.
At European Dignity Watch we seek to protect and promote the family – an institution which is based on and respects the complementarity of a man and a woman in a stable relationship as the basis of a family life.
We affirm the family as the best place for children and adults to learn and cultivate love, mutual respect, and solidarity, and we recognize the contributions of the family to the creation of future generations and a prosperous society.
We will approach this topic and analyse more statistics and information on family policies in one of our next articles.
Roxana Stanciu, Executive Director of European Dignity Watch, based in Brussels. Learn more about how this organisation informs, educates, and equips stakeholders in Europe to make a difference in public life, defending freedom, family, and life; visit EDW's website.