European governments must take into account role of family as key pillar for sustainable social models
Mon, 15/05/2017 - 07:00

Statement on the occasion of the International Day of Family

Caritas Europa reminds European state governments about the importance of protecting family life. Families have a central role in any sustainable and inclusive social model as they create and ensure well-being in our societies.

In its recent publication Social Justice and Equality in Europe is possible!, Caritas Europa identified family as one of the three pillars of sustainable and inclusive social models. Investing in families must therefore be a fundamental priority for all European governments to ensure social justice and sustainable social protection systems.

“When my children are not there, I don’t heat my apartment. For food, when they are not here, I eat less. I don’t want them to feel that I don´t have money. I tighten my belt. The hardest part is that I cannot give them what I would like. I’m afraid to appear like a bad dad who doesn’t please their children, and it’s hurting a lot. I think men are too proud and ashamed to seek help,” said Fabrice, single dad of three children in shared custody with an income of EUR 1100 per month, who receives support from Secours Catholique – Caritas France to make ends meet and to support him in his role as father.

Like Fabrice, millions of people across Europe struggle today for their families. Their situations resonate with the words Pope Francis told European Heads of State during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome: “Europe finds new hope when […] she invests in the family[…]. When she makes it possible to have children without the fear of being unable to support them”.

Article 16 of the revised Social Charter of the Council of Europe recognises the fundamental place of family in societies, and that investing in them would also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals one to five, relating to eradicating poverty and hunger; ensuring healthy lives and educational opportunities throughout the lifespan, as well as achieving equality between women and men.

“The European Commission’s latest proposal to facilitate the combination of work and parental care responsibilities is a good step in recognising the value of family in society. All European states should consider this proposal because it will contribute to increasing equality between mothers and fathers, and to strengthening the family, offering children a good start in life,” says Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary-General of Caritas Europa.

For more information, please contact:

Shannon Pfohman
Advocacy and Policy Director
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 26 51
Mob: +32 (0)476 98 44 77
Alain Rodriguez
Communication Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 26 54
Mob : +32 (0)478 58 54 37

Notes to the editor:

  • The International Day of Families is observed every year on 15 May. The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 and reflects the importance the international community attaches to families. The International Day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.
  • The European Commission’s proposal for a directive on work-life balance for parents and carers (COM(2017) 253).
  • Pope Francis address to EU Heads of State on 24 March 2017.
  • Article 16 of the Council of Europe’s revised Social Charter.
  • Sustainable Development Goals.
  • In Caritas Europa’s view, a sustainable and inclusive social model provides social welfare and social security if it is based holistically on the following three pillars:
    • The family as vital cell of society and primary safety net
    • Inclusive labour markets recognising the value of work and people contribution to society
    • Social protection systems as sound social investment

    (described in the publication Social Justice and Equality in Europe is possible! –