Policy Study

08/03/2023

Today Europe might be standing at the crossroads of a new care paradigm shift as the EU Commission has presented its ‘European Care Strategy’ in September 2022. A particular focus is laid on childcare and long-term care (LTC) through two Council Recommendations on the revision of the Barcelona targets on early childhood education and care (ECEC) and access to affordable high-quality long-term care.  

By taking leadership in this under-explored policy area, the EU may take a more proactive approach to rebalance persisting inequalities attributable to the neglect of care. The true question lies, however, in how this recognition translates into wide-reaching answers addressing the challenges faced by women whose individual situations are as diverse as Europe itself. The EU plays a crucial responsibility in initiating transformative policies towards a change of social and gender norms and incentivising public investment in care

That is precisely why this policy study, published in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, seeks to feed and guide the discussion by critically assessing whether the European Care Strategy can be seized as an opportunity to trigger a new approach to care that is truly inclusive and fair for all. In other words, this publication explores whether the EU is sufficiently equipping itself to live up to the claims that European values “can only flourish in a caring society”. On the one hand, it offers an analysis of the positive developments welcomed by the key stakeholders. On the other hand, it also serves to better understand the remaining blind spots of the Strategy. Care being such a complex and multifaceted policy field, each chapter thus dives into a different dimension relevant to understand how the Strategy can give itself the means to ensure that care-givers and -receivers do not fall short of the EU’s fundamental values and the fulfilment of social rights. 

By gathering diverse voices from academia, civil society and policymaking, this policy study thus makes the case for strengthening care policies across the EU. The last chapter provides an overview of the policy recommendations put forth by this policy study. 

Chapters of the Policy Study:

  • ‘Introduction’ by Laeticia Thissen and Agnes Mach
  • ‘Care as a driver of sustainable growth’ by Cecilia Navarra and Meenakshi Fernandes
  • ‘Demographic challenges for social cohesion’ by Chiara Saraceno
  • ‘Ensuring universal access to childcare’ by Anna Gromada
  • ‘Building a resilient care sector: a human centred approach’ by Tuscany Bell
  • ‘The new challenges of care work in light of digitalisation and platformisation’ by Claire Marzo
  • ‘Towards a home care strategy for long-term care’ by Jean-François Lebrun
  • ‘The care strategy as a remedy for gender inequality?’ by Barbara Helfferich
  • ‘Care at the intersection of multiple discriminations’ by Elisa Chieregato
  • ‘Independent living for disabled people and personal assistance’ by Florian Sanden

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