György Hölvényi MEP and the National Association of Large families (NOE) hosted a conference ‘Towards a Family-Friendly Europe’ in the European Parliament

The conference ‘Towards a Family-Friendly Europe’ was organised by György Hölvényi MEP and the National Association of Large Families (NOE) in the Brussels building of the European Parliament, named after the former Hungarian Prime Minister Antall József.

During the second panel discussion conducted by Kinga Joó, Vice-President of NOE, participants have exchanged views about the EP elections due in May 2019 with the perspective of civil society and the research community.

As Edel Iren Segelsam (Sweden) argued, the family is the reality of the past and the future. The globalized world of today does not reflect the reality that is particularly problematic for young people. According to Segelsam, the Swedish state is active, but handles family policy by focusing on individuals rather than families. Young people do not trust politicians, their relationship is broken. Change is natural, but we must not go forward by losing our roots, our European values.

According to Inese Muceniece (Latvia), young people are impatient with themselves and the world. They need to be given the message to be more present in real life, ironically this is possible through social media. Their main message is that the family did not go out of fashion, thus this should be given importance. It encourages everyone to post pictures of family, family dinners, excursions and experiences, not lunch or cats. On the day of the families, as in 1989, following the Baltic human chain, many thousands of families will grab each other's hand in the Baltic.

Maria Regina Florio Maroncelli (ELFAC) explained that their organization constitutes 24 large family associations from 21 countries. Their organizations are asked to call on MEPs to support the reduction of the VAT key for basic child products (e.g. diapers), the recognition of unpaid household work, the driving of minibuses fit for more than 9 persons with a ‘B’ category license and the introduction of a European large family card. It is important not to punish large families because they have many children.

According to Zeljka Markic (Croatia), most women regret not having given birth to one more child. It is an important task for civil actors to mediate values, they are able to bring on change by real bottom-up initiatives. She has reported on the campaign aimed at amending the constitution in order to state that marriage is concluded between a man and a woman. Even though 70% of the media opposed to the amendment, 67% of the Croatian population supported it, 20% were impartial and only 10% were against it. This is a good indication of that today's media is completely torn away from reality and the needs of the population.

Balázs Molnár, Head of International Bureau at KINCS, has presented the Institute's work and the preliminary results of the research conducted at the Baby-Mommy Expo, according to which 76% of the respondents think the psychical and emotional background is very important for childbearing, and only 30% judge material aspects similarly important. According to three quarters of respondents, adequate housing conditions (76%), safe workplaces (79%), stable partnership (80%), love (80%), sharing of parental responsibility (78%), family-friendly environment 74%) and financial security (77%) matter, but most important are physical, psychical and mental maturity (91%). He also presented the data on the application for the Housing Allowance for Families (CSOK) and the results of the applications for family-friendly workplaces over the last 6-years. 

Kata Eplényi and Andrea Mihálffy have reported on the results of the European Youth Initiative for the Future of Families (EYIFF). The program, launched in 2016, aims to give young people the opportunity to share their thoughts on families throughout Europe. Civil society organizations, such as NOE, have an important role to play in getting ideas and knowledge about the families.

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