EUROPE/BELGIUM - The family must be a priority for the European Union: COMECE statement

Wednesday, 17 March 2004

Brussels (Fides Service) - The COMECE Secretariat has today 16 March 2004 published detailed proposals for an EU Family Strategy designed to make the enlarged EU "the most family-friendly region of the world by 2010".
To complement the existing Lisbon Strategy on economic growth and social reform, the Secretariat of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) is proposing that European policy-makers develop an EU family strategy that would support Europeans in the area of their life they cherish most.
Family policy is and should remain the primary responsibility of Member States, says the COMECE Secretariat. However, EU legislation on social protection, working time, gender equality, competition, media policy, formation and vocational training, health, development and other policy areas already has a direct or indirect impact on family life. According to the COMECE Secretariat, the EU should consciously take this impact into account.

The strategy contains detailed proposals for reaching six headline goals:
1. Improve the integration of elderly people within society - primarily through helping their families to help them
2. Promote fairer children-friendly regulations and policies
3. Promote fairer regulations and policies on marriage and parenting
4. Promote closer links between generations
5. Promote public support for families in particular need
6. Promote family associations and a better representation of families in public life

"Promoting the family will ultimately make EU citizens happier, produce greater social cohesion, have a positive effect on public health and may in the process contribute to reversing the decline in the EU birth rate", the strategy concludes. MS (Fides Service 17/3/2004 EM lines 30 Words: 278)