Childcare in the European Union: A Bumpy but Upward Path

Childcare in the European Union: A Bumpy but Upward Path

Childcare in the European Union: A Bumpy but Upward Path

Childcare in the European Union: A Bumpy but Upward Paths

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Référence bibliographique [3075]

Jenson, Jane. 2006. Childcare in the European Union: A Bumpy but Upward Path. Montréal: Chaire de recherche du Canada en citoyenneté et en gouvernance.

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Fiche synthèse

1. Objectifs

Intentions :
«Over the past decades both the European Union (EU) and the Government of Canada (GoC) have become increasingly active in the area of childcare. [...] There are major differences between the positions of these two jurisdictions, however.» (p. 2) «This short paper does not provide a full-scale comparison of these two jurisdictions’ attention to the linkages between childcare and their policy strategies, focusing instead on how the EU has confronted [the following] three shared circumstances.» (p. 3) «1. neither the EU nor the GoC has constitutional responsibility for childcare services; 2. both the EU and the GoC have relied on a variety of tools to gain some leverage over childcare policy and programmes; 3. both the EU and the GoC have seen the organisation of childcare services as well as incentives for some parental care as important to their overall policy strategy for future economic and social well-being.» (p. 2)

2. Méthode

Type de traitement des données :

3. Résumé

«Childcare, both parental (via leaves) and non-parental (via services), is an instrument that can address a number of objectives in any policy mix. For the EU, childcare is a significant part of its strategy for ensuring individual and collective economic and social well-being. Available and affordable services as well as leaves from work will provide parents with the supports they need to manage their working lives and insure their economic future. They will also help ensure the demographic conditions for continuing productivity gains. It is, therefore, part of any modernised social model. The normative foundations of this commitment to childcare are also multiple. A first is the principle of equal opportunities. The goal is both to enable women to take their place in the labour force and to encourage fathers to take up their fair share of household and childcare responsibilities. Parental leaves are key to realising this goal, but so too are services. An additional normative foundation is the idea of activation which underpins the EU’s current labour market strategy. Its intents is not only to increase employment rates; it also promises Europeans access to quality jobs in the new economy, and in order to take them up parents need to ensure that their children are well cared for. A third normative foundation is commitment to allowing Europeans to have the number of children they wish. With access to childcare and time to care (and many other things…) young adults will be able to realise their hopes for founding a family. The EU has arrived at this position despite facing many of the same constraints on policy action as the Government of Canada faces. Despite limited constitutional purchase, it has been able to set common standards for childcare service coverage as well as legislating parental leaves. A part of this has been the development and deployment of a shared analysis of the importance for Europe’s future of childcare services as well as improved leaves. It has been able to do so while respecting the diversity values across Member States as well as among individual Europeans.» (p. 9)