While family policies vary between Member States, their goal is the same: to support families. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recommends to mainstream family issues in all European policies.

Currently, European families are changing due to demographic trends. New at-risk social groups, who are more likely to experience social exclusion, have emerged. These groups consist of single-parent families, the long-term unemployed, the working poor, and children living in or at risk of poverty. Children’s moral, health and educational well-being is an important aspect of comprehensive family policies, as well as enabling parents to balance their family responsibilities on the one hand, and their social life and work on the other.

Family friendly policies vary throughout Europe but successful policies have some points in common, and include good quality child-care (particularly public provision of early years child-care), family support, in a way that it meets expectations of parents and meets the emotional, physical, and psychological needs of children. The policies also include a focus on preventing and combating family poverty and are maintained over long term. Employment and housing are found to be very important policies related to family policies as well.

The recommendations, besides mainstreaming family policies among all EU policies, include enacting legislation on balancing work and family life, and on equality at work between men and women, as well as child protection and development. Hope for a better future is a crucial factor in people’s decision to start a family.

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Last modified on June 4 2011.