Europe is a world leader in social protection. High standards are in place for well-being, work-life balance and fighting poverty. But the European Parliament calls for better application and higher standards.
Europe is the world leader when it comes to social protection. The EU has set global standards for fighting poverty, well-being, family cohesion and work-life balance. How welfare systems are run is left up to individual member states, but the European Parliament calls for higher standards. One example of this is the families' package. We call for a paternity leave directive, we say it's essential and urgent, we ask member states to extend the period of parental leave What really sets EU countries apart from non-Eu countries is the buffer of time offered to working parents: at least 4 months of parental leave during the first 8 years of a child's life. Dario lives in Italy and works in the public administration of Rome. He is allowed to take 30 days of parental leave, spread over longer period. We decided to become parents jointly, and consequently, raising children is also an opportunity to do something together. I get the chance to dedicate a lot of my time to spend with them, not just the week-end, for instance. My rapport with them continues to be fairly constant, there's no "See you in the morning, see you in the evening" lifestyle. However, only 10% of fathers in the EU take parental leave. Many are afraid of losing part of their salary or their jobs itself and some prefer to leave parental care to mothers. We recommend that the parental leave not be transferable, or at least, that it be transferable, insofar as possible, within a framework which doesn't reinforce traditional roles. The promotion of social welfare and the respecting of equality between men and women are enshrined as fundamental values in the EU and the Parliament warns against reversing progress that has been made. The pay gap is 16.2%, almost the same level as in 2012. We have barely made any progress. Estonia has the highest gender pay gap, 10% more than the EU average. But the situation has improved after accession to the EU. The European context is definitely important, this is why in 2004 Estonia adopted the Gender Equality Law. More than 64 million women are at risk of poverty in the EU, 48% are single parents like Triin. She works as an assistant in the health sector in which the gender pay gap is very high in Estonia. Managing expenses is the main difficulty at the moment: on clothes, shoes, everything, both for me and the kids. Let's say I need to see a dentist, well, I can't afford it. Unexpected expenses are my greatest concern. Like any other EU country the gender pay gap is mainly due to the segregation of the labour market into jobs traditionally done by men or women. To achieve equal pay for equal work is a top priority for women's empowerment and the lack of progress is frankly frustrating. The gender pay gap is a challenge throughout Europe in all kinds of jobs. The European Social Fund is trying to promote equality and fights poverty. The European Union has made the commitment to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived has been given a budget of more than 3.5 billion euros. In Belgium, this Fund finances the distribution of about 7,000 tons of different products to almost 150,000 people in need. Twice a week, Jean Charles comes to this food bank in Brussels in order to pick up ingredients that he will use for cooking in a charity restaurant, Nativitas, in the center of the city. Among the elderly who are with us there are some who have nearly no pension, who have a small survivor's pension and can't make ends meet. In Belgium, like in many other countries, 16% of the elderly population are at risk of poverty. With my small pension, I can't afford to rent an apartment. My pension has to cover my rent and charges and I have to eat. Fortunately, I can eat at Nativitas for much less. Improving social rights in everyday life is at the heart of the agenda of the European Parliament in the coming years. What really matters is the commitment to deliver on better social standards for our century.