COFACE Families Europe: Call to action to safeguard a social, inclusive and democratic Europe!

Speech by COFACE President, Annemie Drieskens, on the occasion of the European Economic and Social Committee event: “Civil Society for rEUnaissance”

“Thank you to European Economic and Social Committee President Luca Jahier for the invitation to be here today to represent COFACE Families Europe. We are a pluralistic European network of civil society organisations. We represent and support millions of families of all types without discrimination. Families play an essential role in society.

“For over 60 years, COFACE Families Europe has listened to the needs of families in the EU, striving to ensure they all have access to sufficient financial resources, available quality services and adequate time arrangements.

“These are challenging times, and we try to provide a strong voice for families as citizens, as consumers, as workers.

“We do this especially in driving the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. We welcome very much the agreement on the EU work-life balance directive recently struck after negotiations between Commission, Council and Parliament. The road was full of hurdles but at the end we achieved a very important milestone for families.

“The upcoming European elections are a central part of the democratic process, and we need a strong European Parliament to support policies and laws founded on core democratic values of gender equality, non-discrimination, social inclusion, solidarity, and human rights.

“These basic values are under threat today in a number of countries, which is deeply worrying. Here are some examples.

“Gender equality in some countries is being challenged, with the idea of paying women to stay home. In the 21st century, we need to allow both men and women to work and care for their family. We need to close the gender care gap.

“There are still hate crimes and discrimination against families on the move and migrants. This is simply unacceptable.

“There are growing inequalities. Too many families are left behind with no access to decent work and services, and children living in poverty.

“Shrinking civic space in some countries is a disfavour to our European societies. Civil society organisations are watchdogs and agents of change drawing attention to the emerging needs and upholding human rights.

“In view of these challenges and in view of the upcoming European elections, we would like today to launch a call to our European network as well as to friends of COFACE Families Europe to vote in May 2019 using 10 values as a compass.

“We want a Europe which promotes:

“A strong gender equality agenda and Social inclusion of all families through access to resources and community-based services.

“A Europe which invests in the health and education of all children.

“Supports civil society organisations.

“And which builds an economic and financial system at the service of our society and our planet.

“Political parties and candidates with objectives and ambitions which meet ALL 10 principles are the ones we want to see sitting in the European Parliament for the next five years.

“This is the only way to continue defending a social, inclusive and democratic Europe.

“It is our shared responsibility.

“Please get involved and spread our call to encourage all families to speak out through their vote. The clock is ticking.

“Don’t be afraid to strike a conversation at the family dinner table about the European elections. You might agree to disagree, but that is the beauty of democracy.

“Let’s not take it for granted.

“Thank you.”

Full article.