Despite changing family structures, every European is connected with family life in some shape or form. Surveys show that family policy issues such as work-life balance, public support for families, and care provision rank among Europeans'' top concerns. A new initiative called ‘Family Platform” seeks to chart and review latest developments in the field of family research in the European Union (EU), discuss the possible future of families in the EU, and come up with suggestions for the next European research agenda in the area as of 2012. The Family Platform is funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme..
“A consortium of 12 partners, including leading European universities and non‐governmental organisations across the EU, the Family Platform seeks to involve a wide spectrum of stakeholders from businesses, trade unions, civil society groups, researchers, policy makers and politicians”, said William Lay, Director of COFACE, which is one of the leading partners of the Family Platform. This will be achieved through focus groups, conferences, and an online discussion and dissemination platform.
The point of entry for participation is an interactive website which contains information about all the activities and about how to get involved. The website was launched on 2 March 2010, following three information days in Budapest, Milan and Brussels.
In the short term, the Family Platform will identify key family-related trends and topics. Examples include work/life balance, gender equality, care provision, service provision to families and issues regarding immigration and social integration. Here, differences between countries, research gaps and how to improve research methodologies will be explored. Another activity will involve reviewing existing research while taking into account perspectives of key stakeholders such as family associations, children’s rights associations, policy makers and management and the workforce (social partners).
Specifically, consortium members will conduct a systematic literature review on European comparative research published since the mid-1990s using existing scientific and statistical databases, reports from the previous research projects funded by the European Commission, and other relevant publications. The results of the review will be published, and a joint summary report will be prepared.
In the longer term, the Platform’s ambitious objective is to help policy makers understand how to meet future challenges by taking stock of research findings Europe-wide, but also by exploring future trends for family models likely to take place in the EU.
The project’s final report will serve as a basis for the next research agenda and research roadmap as of 2012. It will identify key research topics and areas relevant to families which are important for national reform programs of the EU Member States, for example gender equality at work and at home, reconciliation of work and family life, and care of family members.