The Hungarian Presidency aims to initiate a Union level debate on Europe’s demographic and family issues. Before the relevant ministerial meeting, Miklós Soltész, State Secretary for Social, Family and Youth Affairs of the Ministry for National Resources, also sought the opinion of non-governmental organisations on the matter in Budapest, on 17 March.
The State Secretary met with the affected NGOs, before the informal meeting of Ministers for Demography and Family Affairs, to be held on 31 March and 1 April. The Hungarian Presidency identified family and demographic matters as important objectives, even though family policy falls within the competence of Member States, not the EU. “Family matters have never come up or been discussed at the highest level,” said Miklós Soltész.
The Hungarian Presidency aims to make decision-makers aware of family issues and demographic changes. Mr Soltész thinks that these issues should be treated as the third element, in addition to migration and active aging, which have so far received widespread publicity. Although some Member States have tackled these problems in one way or another, it is still difficult to find common grounds, said the State Secretary. Precisely for this reason, Mr Soltész considers it as a huge success that José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, welcomed this choice of subject. This shows that families deserve attention at all levels, said the State Secretary.
In late March, the informal ministerial meeting’s agenda will include the future of European families, possibilities of cooperating European family policy, the role of family policy in demographic changes, the exchange of Member State experiences, and the Europe 2020 Strategy’s effects on families. After the discussion of these issues, the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian Presidency Trio, and the next country in office, Poland will accept a common declaration, as Warsaw has indicated its intention to keep family issues on the EU’s agenda, in the second half of the year.