One year ago the European Commission presented the European Care Strategy. One year after, several actions were launched to ensure high-quality affordable and accessible care services and to improve the situation of care providers. This was done in close cooperation with Member States, social partners, and stakeholders.
The Strategy is accompanied by two proposals for Council Recommendations on the new Barcelona targets on early childhood education and care, and on access to affordable high-quality long-term care, adopted by the Council on 8 December 2022.
Supporting policy reforms for high-quality affordable long-term care
Among other actions, Member States appointed national long-term care coordinators/contact points to design and monitor national reforms.
The first in a planned series of mutual learning events among national coordinators and experts focused on quality for long-term care, one of the key aspects of the Council Recommendation on long-term care.
To support national reforms, 18 Member States are tapping into the Recovery and Resilience Fund. Additional EU funding support is also available through European Social Fund+, European Regional Development Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the Just Transition Fund, the Horizon Europe, or Digital Europe programmes. Moreover, at least 5 Member States will receive technical assistance to design long-term care reforms from the European Commission.
The strategic partnership between the European Commission and the World Health Organisation will support the training of informal carers and help Member States design national reforms.
The Commission and the Social Protection Committee keep improving data collection for better evidence and monitoring of LTC.
Improving working conditions in the care sector
Care services, education and training providers as well as social partners also set up a large-scale skills partnership for long-term care in April 2023. The partners committed to train at least 60% of the long-term care workforce (3.8 million workers) every year by 2030.
On 10 July 2023, the new European social dialogue committee for social services was established, bringing together employers and trade unions of the sector. This will contribute to improving working conditions.
Early child education and care
In March 2023, the Commission launched a communication campaign on challenging gender stereotypes, which still hinder equal sharing of childcare between parents.
The Commission continues to monitor the implementation of the Work-life balance directive 2019/1158 for parents and carers to ensure the correct transposition of its provisions by Member States.
The directive specifically provides non-transferable paternity and parental leaves for fathers to tackle the unequal share of care responsibilities between women and men.
In June 2023, the Commission co-organised a seminar with EQUINET for representatives from equality bodies and labour inspectorates to identify measures to tackle possible unfavourable treatment of workers who take family leaves.
The European Care Strategy supports the implementation of the principles enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights, in particular the principles on gender equality, work-life balance, childcare and support to children and long-term care.
The European Care Strategy and Long-Term Care Recommendation will also contribute to achieving the three EU social headline targets on employment, skills and poverty reduction for 2030, welcomed by EU leaders at the Porto Summit in May 2021 and by the European Council.
The Barcelona Targets Recommendation, as part of the 2020-2025 Gender Equality Strategy, builds on other EU initiatives such as the Recommendation on Early Childhood Education and Care, the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the Recommendation on the European Child Guarantee.