European Parliament calls for joint European action

CC – 07/2022

The European Parliament adopted its resolution on nursing care and support on 5 July. A large majority of MEPs (436) voted in favour of the nursing care and support report "Towards common European policies on nursing care and support". Only 143 MEPs voted against and 54 abstained. In the report, MEPs call for targeted and sustainable investments for nursing care and support. The report highlights the European Care Strategy, slated by the European Commission for 7 September to lay the groundwork for a long overdue reform of Member States' systems for nursing care, support and social security.

Sustainable investment called for

The number of people in need of long-term care in the EU is expected to increase from 30.8 million in 2019 to 38.1 million in 2050. Key challenges faced are the expected increase in demand for nursing care services, ensuring and further developing quality in nursing care, including the potential offered by digitisation, securing skilled workers through appropriate working conditions and remuneration, among other things, and financial sustainability. The European Commission should support EU countries with targeted investment programmes through European structural and innovation funds to create equal access to affordable, appropriate high-quality nursing care services. Professional and family caregivers should receive adequate pay and be able to work under conditions that are compatible with their private and professional lives and career opportunities. In this context, MEPs call for the provision of informal, unpaid nursing care and childcare to be recognised and supported. It must also be ensured that caregivers from the EU and non-EU countries receive adequate transnational social protection and are better informed about their rights as employees.

Tackling gender inequalities

Reference was made to the special role of women both in the report and during the debate in the plenary session. Targeted support measures are particularly called for here. Gender gaps in employment, wages, and pensions between men and women are particularly evident in nursing care and support. Women make up an overwhelming share of recipients of nursing care and support as well as underpaid and unpaid nursing care and support workers. The numbers are clear on this: 81 per cent of licensed nurses in the EU are women. In the informal, unpaid care sector, women in the EU perform 13 more hours of unpaid nursing care and support work per week than men. This means that around 7.7 million women in the EU are excluded from the potential labour market due to their informal nursing care and support work. Only about 450,000 men are in the same boat.

European strategy for nursing care and support envisaged in September

The European Parliament resolution highlights the need for action in the nursing care and support sector. The European Commission will present the requirements for its European Care Strategy on 7 September this year. The initiative proposes two Council recommendations to revise the Barcelona targets on early childhood care, upbringing and education and on strengthening long-term care. German Social Insurance has already commented on the proposed strategy with feedback.