Future EU care policy faces major social challenges (cepInput)

shutterstock/Lebid Volodymyr

Europe's population is ageing dramatically. Care systems are facing ever greater social and financial challenges with massive staff shortages. The Commission therefore announced a new care strategy on 7 September. The Centrum für Europäische Politik (cep) believes that a reform is urgently needed. The think tank insists on more help for friends and relatives who act as carers.



"Care technically is a matter organized by the Member States, not on the European level. The Commission must respect the competences of the Member States and still propose measures to substantially strengthen care systems", stresses Patrick Stockebrandt. The cep health expert’s analysis, which was co-authored by Marco Mazzone, deals with the  so-called informal care by relatives, friends or neighbours. Together Mazzone and Stockebrandt developed proposals for a new EU care strategy.

"Informal carers are the backbone of care systems. Almost all of us will have to care for someone close to us at some point. These carers must be supported much more than they have been in the past", Mazzone demands. In addition, possible conflicting goals must be resolved. The compatibility of work and private life as well as gender equality are particularly important. Most informal carers are currently women. "Therefore, the EU must promote more flexible employment models and also strengthen incentives for men", emphasise the two cep experts.

According to Mazzone, it is necessary to establish a uniform definition of informal care. This does not exist yet. "The EU should promote more cooperation between member states. This can be done through the exchange of best practices, through central information portals, the organised exchange of expertise, or even the funding of studies", explains the cep expert.