The European Parliament’s Interest Group on Carers, coordinated by Eurocarers, met on the 4th February in Brussels to discuss how the EU could support action towards the social inclusion of carers.

Since 2009, the number of people living in poverty and social exclusion has increased by 10 million in the EU, now amounting to over 124 million, or one in four people. Unpaid carers are disproportionally affected by poverty and social exclusion. Disability, the impact of reducing employment to care, higher utility and household costs and discriminatory or altogether missing social security protection for unpaid carers indeed all contribute to a faster cycle of financial and social poverty. At the same time, demographic challenges increase demand for informal care and economic policy in many European nations reduces public service provision. These trends place unpaid carers in a vicious and deepening cycle of poverty.

The meeting provided an opportunity to showcase the specific example of Scotland but evidence is available to demonstrate the negative financial impact of caring in most EU member states. The EU context for work was also depicted with relevant entry points in the EU2020 Strategy, Social OMC, Social Investment Package and Structural Funds. The potential offered by a call for a Carers Leave Directive as well as by an own Initiative report on long term care/carers (both supported by participating MEPs) was welcomed by participants.

The conclusions of the meeting underlined the need to explore preventive measures and to bear in mind the three key trends – i.e. increasing care demand, decreasing care supply and limited budget – which set the context for progress.

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