The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) presents a round-up of the latest developments in child and family policy in EU member states in August 2019.
(Each piece of news contains a link to the original source, which may be in a language other than English. In most cases, they are press releases from the relevant ministries).
Bulgaria: Supreme Court rules in favour of free movement for a same-sex spouse
The Bulgarian Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the right of residency for the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen. Whereas Bulgaria does not currently recognise any legal relationship for same-sex couples, this ruling confirms that the same-sex spouse of the Bulgarian citizen involved should be allowed to reside in the country. This judgment follows the June 2018 ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU, which confirmed that Member States are obliged to treat the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen the same as different-sex spouses, irrespective of whether or not the Member State allows same-sex marriage or civil partnership in its own legislation.
Estonia: Length of paternity leave to be extended
On 07 August 2019, the Minister of Social Affairs (Sotsiaalministeerium) signed a decree which will extend the period of paternity leave from 10 days to 30 days. In addition, the Social Insurance Board (Sotsiaalkindlustusamet) will now be responsible for paying paternity benefits, rather than the employer. These changes will take effect from 01 July 2020.
Finland: Preparation for family leave reform to begin
On 13 August 2019, Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health announced that in the autumn they will announce reforms to family leave in the next few months, with the aim of supporting families’ wellbeing. ‘To begin preparations, an unofficial, tripartite working group will be created to produce a preliminary draft of the reform. The group will include members from government ministries, the Social Insurance Institution (Kela) and labour market organisations. The reform itself is scheduled to come into force in 2021 at the earliest.
Ireland: New funding announced for youth projects and services
On 31 July 2019, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announced an initiative to make €1.7m in grant funding available to 116 youth projects and services and 20 national youth organisations. The funding is primarily intended for these services and organisations to spend on necessary equipment and small-scale refurbishment.
Italy: New funding for work-life balance projects
On 26 August 2019, the Department for Family Policies (Dipartimento per le politiche della famiglia) announced €74 million to fund projects that aim to support parents to balance their work and family commitments. Using the hashtag #Conciliamo (‘we reconcile’), the department will fund a range of projects, including those that support women in the workplace and the families of people with disabilities.
Italy: Family Card scheme announced
The Department for Family Policies (Dipartimento per le politiche della famiglia) has introduced a Family Card (Carta Famiglia) scheme. The Family Card will allow families with at least three children under the age of 26 to access discounts on a range of goods and services from both public and private companies.
United Kingdom: Funding to support projects that aim to help children and young people’s mental health.
On 20 August 2019, the UK Department of Health and Social Care announced new funding to improve mental health support for children and young people. Up to £3.3 million (approximately €3.6) will be allocated to 23 community projects which aim to help prevent mental illness by providing counselling, mentoring and arts programmes to children and young people.
United Kingdom: Newly released statistics on different family types
Research by the UK’s Office for National Statistics has revealed that families with cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK. These families, which consist of an unmarried couple who live together, are now the second most common family type in the UK and account for 17.9% of the country’s families. The research also found that the number of families formed by a same-sex couple had increased by more than 50% since 2015, while the number of married same-sex couples had quadrupled in number during the same period.
Europe: Report published examining rising inequalities in the EU
SDG Watch Europe (an EU-level cross-sectoral alliance of NGOs aiming to support implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals) has published a report that maps various forms of inequality at the national and EU level and examines their impact. The report explores several key dimensions of inequality, including inequality between generations, and finds that inter-generational inequality has disproportionately affected young people, contributing to several challenges regarding their social, economic and political inclusion.