From recognition to rights – EU action needed for carers
On 4 February Social Platform’s Director, Pierre Baussand, spoke on the panel of a meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Carers. The meeting focused on ‘Carers and EU action in the field of social exclusion’. Participants shared the view that more must be done to address the needs of carers, who are currently stepping-in to conduct what should be a state responsibility with little to no support from member states.
The panelists, including John Dunne, President of Eurocarers and Sian Jones, Policy Coordinator of the European Anti-Network Poverty – both members of Social Platform – responded to a presentation by Claire Cairns, Network Coordinator at the Coalition of Carers in Scotland. The presentation revealed some shocking truths about the situation of carers, including:
- On average, carers face 75% higher utility bills than other households
- One-fifth of carers in the UK had to stop working, with 35% stating this was because there was no one else to provide care on their behalf
- Two-thirds of carers across Europe are women
- Half or carers have suffered physical injuries or seen their health decline, with 63% of those experiencing depression
Ms Cairns explained that despite the problem being noticed by some decision-makers, action needs to be taken to bring about change, and called for a shift “from recognition to rights”.
Following interventions made by other speakers, including Members of the European Parliament and representatives from the European Commission working on social protection and activation systems, and called for immediate EU legislative action. He explained that the ecosystem surrounding care policies needs to be addressed, and best practices researched and sharing between member states. Any directive proposed by the Commission should take into account diversity of families and meet the needs of all; it should respect existing services in member states, and should promote access to affordable, universal, high quality services. Mr Baussand concluding by expressing his hopes that a social movement could be initiated to garner popular support for this issue that affects so many, and suggested the European Citizens Initiative as one such vehicle for achieving this.