European care strategy: Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission's initiative

Briefing 06-09-2022

This briefing provides a pre-legislative synthesis of the positions of national, regional and local governmental organisations on the European Commission's forthcoming European care strategy and related proposals. It forms part of an EPRS series offering a summary of the pre-legislative state-of-play and advance consultation on a range of key Commission priorities during its 5-year term in office. It seeks to present the current state of affairs, examine how existing policy is working on the ground, and identify best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of the European system of multilevel governance. This analysis of the positions of partner organisations at European Union (EU), national, regional and local levels suggests that they would like the following considerations to be reflected in the discussion on the forthcoming initiative on the European care strategy. In addition, these points could be reflected when discussing the forthcoming proposals for Council recommendations on long-term care and the revision of the Barcelona targets. * The input gathered reveals the key implementation role of local and regional authorities in the care sector, which entails extensive organisational and financial responsibilities. * In relation to childcare, public authorities – even in EU countries in which comparatively more children have access to childcare – are keenly aware that they need to do more to ensure equal access, also for vulnerable and single-parent families. They suggest a range of measures to this end, such as introducing a non-contributory kindergarten system or, alternatively, fixing income-based rates for kindergartens. * When it comes to long-term care, local authorities adopt similar strategies: they aim at preventing loss of autonomy, encourage caring at home and in the community, whenever possible, and implement care in nursing homes and hospitals, when needed. Common trends for action at regional and national levels include use of digital and new technologies and inclusive housing solutions, such as adapting existing homes to the needs of elderly and disabled people. * Governmental organisations suggest that care worker shortages could be addressed by making the jobs more attractive through better remuneration, improved working conditions and training. Some countries started addressing the over-representation of women in unpaid care work with initiatives seeking a more equal split between women and men and offering accessible or free childcare to enable women to participate in the labour market.