On 11th April 2017, EBC attended the European Parliament’s Interest Group on Carers meeting. Held at the European Parliament in Brussels, the meeting was hosted by Eurocarers, the European network representing informal carers and their organisations, and MEP Marian Harkin.

The meeting primarily addressed the relevance of the new European Pillar of Social Rights in addressing the issues faced by carers in relation to employment, social security, social inclusion and health. Last March 2016, the European Commission put forward an initial outline of what should become the European Pillar of Social Rights. This will identify a number of essential principles common to Euro-area Member States, focusing on their needs and challenges in the field of employment and social policies.  Once in place, the Pillar should become the reference framework to screen the employment and social performance of participating Member States, to drive reforms at national level and, more specifically, to serve as a compass for the renewed process of convergence within the Euro area. A preliminary outline of the European Pillar of Social Rights was the subject of a EU stakeholder consultation. This contained three main categories in the field of employment and social policies, subdivided in a number of policy domains:

·         Equal opportunities and access to the labor market: skills development, life-long learning and active support for employment.

·         Fair working conditions: to establish an adequate and reliable balance of rights and obligations between workers and employers.

·         Adequate and sustainable social protection: access to health, social protection benefits and high quality services, including childcare, healthcare and long-term care.

 Given the importance of this initiative, the April meeting on Carers served to:

·         Inform participants of the content of the proposed European Pillar of Social Rights;

·         Explore how the Pillar could best support carers and their needs and issues:

·         Explore the synergies between the various health and social stakeholders are EU level.

In the next week, the European Commission will be releasing more details on the Pillar of Social Rights, the purpose of which is to find balance between economic and social issues in Europe.  The Commission will release a document outlining principles on how citizens should be treated, linked to a number of concrete policy proposals, to include work-life balance, and the right to long-term care.  Following consultation, a white paper will be released outlining how these rights will be implemented and who is responsible.

Representatives of the social platform are concerned that the principles create a momentum across member states to improve citizens’quality of life, and that the document is not simply aspirational.

For more information on the meeting with relevant links on the European Social Pillar, click here.