On July 7, 2021, the EPP group called for a European care strategy, covering the whole life, from early childhood to older persons. This holistic approach is supported by EFFE, since it fosters the access to Personal and Household Services (PHS).
EU health systems, which were weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic, require investments and reforms to meet demographic challenges. While ageing has become a major concern, the increasing participation of women in the labour market and the fall of the European fertility rate raises new issues in terms of labour force. Most women still carry out family and domestic responsibilities, which are the main reasons of their partial or total disengagement from the labour market and must be replaced at home.
Considering the potential for up to 8 million job openings in the next decade, the health and social care sector must meet EU citizen expectations. Among them, “the freedom to live as long as possible in the home should be a goal available to all“, according to the EPP, stressing the need to develop PHS in the same way as traditional health institutions. In this sense, the group chaired by Donald Tusk argues that a European strategy, in line with the principle of subsidiarity, could complement the actions of Member States, particularly in terms of social protection standards and access to health care services.
Therefore, the EPP group calls for the creation of a European common framework dealing with both workers and the beneficiaries of the services they provide, which fits the gender equality Strategy. The proposal underlines the need to collect data assessing their needs and drawing a clear line between formal and informal support. It also encourages Member States to formalise employment through tax deduction systems and service vouchers, which have proved successful in several Member States (Belgium, France, etc.). To achieve this, the document stresses the importance of developing vocational education and training (VET) in the sector, to enhance the professionalism of employees and the quality of the care they provide.
The use of EU funds is highlighted by the EPP, both to support the development of new health infrastructures (Next Generation EU, EU4Health, Structural Funds…), and to explore new multigenerational and inclusive care models (Pact for Skills, Just Transition fund…).
EFFE works closely with EPP MEPs to ensure that PHS are included in the discussion about a European care strategy. Our main objective aims at guaranteeing the freedom of choice to every citizen in terms of social and care services at home. Therefore, we urge Member States to support the creation of declarative tools and fiscal incentives promoting the direct employment model, which is still characterized by undeclared work.