ELFAC president discusses about Europe with delegates of the Italian association

Regina Florio Maroncelli brought her testimony on the final day of the national coordinators’ meeting held at Nocera Umbra from September 29 to October 1.

A president for European large families. Married to Fabrizio for 35 years, mother of many children, from Bergamo, journalist, speaks Bergamo, Italian, English, German and French. Provincial coordinator and longtime national advisor of Anfn (the Italian Large Families Assocation), founder and director of “Test Positivo” (the magazine of ANFN), author of publications dedicated to large families: “All Yours?” and “The Return of the Stork,” written by several hands with other associates. Since 2018, she has been president of ELFAC, the federation that brings together national associations of large families.

Natality in Europe

Her reasoning began with the worrisome demographic winter that Italy is experiencing. “In Europe things are a little bit better than with us,” the Elfac president noted. Because there are some countries – such as Ireland and France – that continue to maintain a good fertility index.”

Especially the Nordic countries “which are experiencing a decline in births, questioning demographers, because there, reconciliation policies, services and economic support to the family has not experienced re-diminishing.”

Countries such as Hungary and Poland and in general countries “that belonged to the area of influence of the Soviet Union, such as Estonia Latvia, Slovenia, Serbia and the Czech Republic, are investing a lot in the family and birth rate. Some say that the results are lower than expected, but one must also take into account that it is very difficult to climb back up the slope: it takes several years, many more than a normal election cycle, simply because the numbers, that is, the young women who could become mothers, are lacking at the start.”

Hungary has, however, in a decade gone from a fertility rate of 1.2 to the current 1.56 children born to each fertile woman, exceeding the European average of 1.5. The best results have been in the leap forward in marriages (up more than 40 percent) and the decrease in divorces and abortions, which have halved. That to me means a picture of more stable relationships, greater well-being and a better quality of life.”

Interestingly, the case of Portugal, one of the countries with the lowest rates in Europe, marked a 5 percent increase in births in 2022. Here, in particular,” Regina Florio noted, “family-friendly cities, those that have been awarded the green flag because they meet the quality requirements established by the Portuguese Large Families Association, have increased. By now, almost 1/3 of Portugal’s 308 municipalities are certified “family friendly,” and these are the realities closest to citizens, whose policies directly impact families….

A united team

«I am very happy with these years at the helm of Elfac. I know I could have done so much more. And yet we have achieved important goals: we have, for example, expanded our network, we have created and grown the network of mutual friends of the family, we have brought large families to the UN”. Regina Florio takes stock of the years she spent at the helm of the confederation of national associations of large families in Europe. 

«We have made – observed Regina – many contacts with other associations that deal with families. And this fills me with joy, convinced as I am of how important it is to work online and in agreement. And then, as an Italian and as a woman, I believe I have brought much more “feeling” and much more emotion to the confederation…”

The management group – confided Regina Florio – is very united and supportive, made up of splendid people who put their hearts into it and with whom it was very pleasant to deal travel. And it has always been very enriching to meet families from many different countries, so similar to each other even if in different environments and cultures. 

There are still many points to explore, we must continue to remove large families from invisibility, we must continue to ask for studies and attention. But in short, we do what we can. 

The most significant successes

«The most exciting was obtaining the Consultative Status at the UN. This gave us the opportunity to remember the existence of large families at all latitudes. 

At the European Union level we have established relationships with various entities, but we have not yet managed – also for budget reasons – to guarantee a continuous presence of Elfac in Brussels: paradoxically we manage to produce more documents for the UN than for the EU, simply because they ask us for them, while in Europe it is much more complicated. And then there is the network, which is a great opportunity of hope for families with children and in particular for large families. Because it is a practical response to practical needs, with immediate effects…

We have also tried to address the issue of birth rates and child poverty, but there is still work to be done here. Now, for the elections next June, we will prepare yet another manifesto to submit to the candidates, but without the push from individual countries, little can be done at a European level. 

Finally, we have just submitted the request for a tender for twinning between 4 European cities in the network, which will also see the active collaboration of young people. Our youth project is very ambitious: we would like to resume that training for young people interested in learning more about family policies. As soon as we have the financial availability we will work on it.”

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